Big, bluff, curly-haired Bernie Marriner has been with Ford SA’s Competitions Department at Port Elizabeth for so many years that it would not surprise us to find that his name had been included in the inventory of fixtures and fittings. But if it is listed it is about to be removed, for after a sizeable chunk of his lifetime massaging the department in his own unique, somewhat unorthodox way, he has accepted the position of manager at the Opel Team of South Africa. This is not a revival of what was called the GM Dealer Team some years ago, when they ran a group of fearsome “Little Chevs” — Vauxhall Firenzas into which huge Chevrolet V8 engines had been squeezed — but a completely new operation, and we imagine that Marriner will be just as eager to avoid becoming content with overseas isolation as he was with Ford. He was always badgering Boreham for newly developed parts and information on the latest improvements, and he became known as an expert on finding short cuts around ponderous paperwork and protocol invariably grasping every opportunity to keep his team on a winning streak. We imagine that he will pressure Russelsheim just as much as he did Boreham.
Taking his place as Competitions Manager of Ford SA will be an equally ebullient character, known wherever a service point has been set up in desert, jungle, alp or farmyard, and as much part of Ford’s sporting activities as Marriner was. Mick Jones is one of Boreham’s veterans, and has seen more changes among drivers, team managers, mechanics and others than he cares to remember. What is more, he has probably forgotten more about Zephyrs, Anglias, Cortinas and Escorts than most people have known, whilst his “battlefield” mannerisms in the field command instant attention and respect. This, coupled with his extrovert character, even prompted a film company to make a documentary around him.
At Port Elizabeth his engineering and tactical skills will be put to good use, but although his old colleague Marriner will be his professional rival in the future, there is no doubt that they will continue to be firm friends off duty. We wish them both every success. — G.P.