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The UDT World Cup Rally 1974 Reunion

How London to Munich turned out to be the toughest Marathon of them all!

The 1974 World Cup Rally probably provided the inspiration for the Dakar Rally as it crossed the Sahara twice on its innocuous sounding route from London to Munich. With the petrol crisis significantly reducing involvement by works teams, the 1974 World Cup rally was also one of the last big victories for a privateer. The incredibly varied entry included notables such as Stirling Moss in a Mercedes 280E, ‘Marathon Man’ Andrew Cowan in an Escort RS2000, Shekhar Mehta in a Lancia Fulvia, Innes Ireland in a Jeep Cherokee and former European Rally Champion Sobieslav Zasada in a Porsche 911. None, however, featured in the final results.

Just five cars completed the whole course as set out in the official regulations, led home by the Australian Citroen DS23 of Andre Welinski, Ken Tubman and Jim Reddiex who had prepared the car. In second to fourth places were three works Peugeots crewed by Christine Dacremont/Yveline Vanoni, Robert Neyret/Jacques Terramorsi and Claudine Trautmann/Marie-Odile Desvignes respectively. Fifth place went to James Ingleby/Robert Smith in their privateer Jeep CJ6 which still sees service on the driver’s farm in Scotland. A further 14 cars, including Andrew Cowan, did not reach the southernmost point of the route in Kano, Nigeria but were allowed to restart in Tamanrasset, Algeria and completed the route through Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Austria (where snow chains were required in the Alps) and finally Germany.

Cars from the event that appeared at the reunion on 21st April at the British Motor Museum included James Ingleby’s fifth place Jeep CJ6, a 1957 Hillman Minx fitted with Hillman Hunter running gear that retired in Morocco due to broken suspension, a Ford Escort and Capri that entered the 1970 and 1974 World Cup Rallies (though neither finished both), a genuine ‘barn find’ Rover 3500 complete with cobwebs, and a replica of the semi-works Morris Marina V8 Coupe driven by John Hemsley who remembers it as one of the best rally cars he ever drove. Better even better than a Lotus Sunbeam: so another ‘close but no cigar’ for British Leyland. Also at the reunion were FEV 1H and H1FEV the Escorts that Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm drove to victory in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally and 1995 rerunning of the same event. 

The Historic Rally Marathon Group do a great job of keeping alive memories of the three major marathon events: the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon, 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally and this 1974 London – Sahara – Munich World Cup Rally. I look forward to their next reunion.

Words and pictures: Keith Mainland


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