The British Motor Heritage Certificate for the car gives a build date of 20th January 1970 although the date of despatch was three months later on the 27th March 1970. Presumably this was because it took three months to build the car up at Abingdon into World Cup Rally specification as the Heritage certificate gives the destination as 'For the Mexican Rally'.
Entered privately for the Rally by millionaire (when millionaire meant something!) Bobby Buchanan-Michaelson BYE 377H was built to full works specification. The special bodyshell mirrors the earlier works shell fitted to WRX 902H World Cup test car, in that it shares WRX's earliest petrol tank arrangement, and jacking point location. The two cars originally had a standard petrol tank and a large flat tank in the base of the boot floor with a filler cap exiting through the rear lamp panel. The works cars had supplementary bag tanks in the rear wings with separate fillers in on each wing. The jacking points on BYE, and WRX are unique in being built up around the standard factory sill jacking points, whereas the works entered cars rear sill jacking point was further back towards the rear of the sill. Small and some might think inconsequential points of trivia, but important to the anoraks, me included! The rest of BYE's shell is identical in every respect to all the other Abingdon cars, flared rear wheel arches, and front wing vents. Aluminium boot lid with raised hump for extra spare Minilite. Aluminium bonnet with small 'tit' to clear Austin 3 litre thermostat housing and filler assembly used on the works PI's. Aluminium doorskins. Seam welded, and strengthened throughout. I could go on at great length, but you get the point.
The rest of the specification is more straight forward in that it's identical to a work's car in every respect with such things as Perspex windows, works dash and instruments, huge fabric covered wiring loom with multiple relays, and fuse box's. Koni shocks, and every suspension component drilled and safety wired.
Registered on the 8th April 1970 BYE 377H was then delivered to Janspeed where it spent a further week being prepared for the rally. Principle amongst Janspeed's modifications included a hefty bull bar affair with clever integral headlight wash/wipers and Perspex covers. Janspeed also fitted one of their tubular manifolds, the same as those fitted to the work's PI's.
The crew entered for the rally included the aforementioned sponsor Bobby Buchanan-Michaelson, Triumph works driver Roy Fidler, and journalist Jim Bullough. They had problems from the very start with a petrol injection 'issue'. Rumour has it the injection 'issues' were nothing more than the metering unit manual altitude adjusting control being set incorrectly in the car! To add insult to injury in an attempt to make up time the car was pulled over in central London for speeding, and pictures of the copper ticking off the driver appeared in the National papers the following day.
Once onto the European mainland further traumas unfolded including a collapse of a rear spring mounting, and more injection 'issues' culminating in retirement before Monza. Speaking to an ex Lucas experimental engineer a few years ago who was tasked with retrieving the PI and driving it back to Blighty revealed that the injection 'issues' were nothing more than plumbing faults. Apparently a critical pump seal had been assembled the wrong way round, he blamed Abingdon, doubtless Abingdon would have blamed Lucas!
After the rally Mr Buchanan-Michaelson transferred the private registration 'X300' onto it, and retained the car until 1976. After that it changed hands a few times eventually ending up in York where it was modified for drag racing! The car fell into disuse in the 1990's and deteriorated in not ideal storage conditions. It's now being fully restored to it's former glory.
We are on the hunt for any pictures of this car (specially colour). There must have been loads of pictures of it taken at the time bearing in mind it was number one off the starting ramp in the World's most famous rally!
I am indebted to Ted Taylor for sending me a raft of new (new to me) pictures of BYE at the start of, and during the 1970 World Cup Rally.
Thanks Ted, that's all I needed to raise the enthusiasm levels and dust off the welding gear!
World Cup Rally 40 celebrations, Car Number 1 progress.
It's been a while since any major work was carried out to our World Cup PI. I spent a couple of weeks just prior to the Christmas holidays before last on major surgery to the bodywork. Those of you who have seen the car know what's involved in putting the roof right!
All the recent hoo ha surrounding the anniversary of the rally has inspired me to pull the dust sheet off and think about starting again. Not that I need inspiration, owning a genuine World Cup PI was always one of my greatest ambitions. However one still has to make a living and private projects play second fiddle to paying the bills!
I'll try and keep you up to date of progress when, and if, I start swinging the welding torch again!