Monday, 25 January 2016

Racing Car Show 1966: Peel Viking and Mini Marcos

50 Years back in time, the 7th Racing Car Show was still brimming in Olympia with even more Mini based surprises that were unveiled at the spot. The Peel Viking and the Mini Marcos were another two of them, and several magazine reports compared them. Sports Car Graphic, an American motoring magazine with a soft spot for British oddities, wrote: "Another method of transforming a Mini into a thing of beauty is to throw the body away completely and hang the two end assemblies beneath a replacement body shell. This is the Marcos-technique. Their Mini Marcos being offered in several states of trim, from bare glassfibre up to a fully-finished structure, including glazing and some interior trim. This is quite a good looking car (it was shown as just a shell, and as a complete 'runner'), a somewhat happier result than provided by a similar structure marketed as the Viking Peel, and manufactured in the Isle of Man, off England's West coast, and the scene of well-known hair-rasing activities on two wheels."

Marcos Cars Components Ltd. had great plans with their very cheap (199 GBP) wonder car, and hired a big stand. Number 15 . Now, I've seen plenty of pictures from Marcos later stands at the Racing Car Show (here for example) but strangely not a single picture taken at the 1966 show. Perhaps a reader has? I expect the car on display to have been '919 PYB', which was Marcos' demonstrator at the time, but it would be nice to see this confirmed. Of the Peel Viking there is little more pictorial evidence, and again it is my guess that the car on display was the one registered 'HUE 177D' - that car was later used in auto crossing and does not survive. Looking back at the 1966 show, Peel founder Cyril Cannell said a few years before his death: "This was a great opportunity to meet some of the most prominent designers and builders in the racing a sports car field, at least one of whom subsequently produced a car using virtually the same technology." He clearly meant the Marcos there, which became of course the best known Mini based car in history, while his Peel never achieved a status like that.

Only picture that I know of showing the Peel Viking at the 1966 Racing Car Show
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Like several other mags, Autocar compared the two, here with beautiful drawings by John Hostler
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


This early ad for the Peel Viking dates back to 1965, prior to the show, when the car was still marketed by its original builder - Peel Engineering Ltd. By January '66, Viking Performances Ltd. had taken over 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


This was probably the Peel Viking shown in Olympia in that year. It ended up auto crossing
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

While this must have been the fully-built car on display with Marcos Cars Components Ltd.
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The 20-page Mini Marcos brochure handed out at stand number 15 in January 1966
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


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