Some notes on the Marendaz Special

The 2-litre Marendaz Special possesses some appeal as coming between the vintage and modern eras, as it were. The following notes on this make are contributed by J. V. Bowles, of the 750 Club.—Ed.

Whilst on holiday at Hastings in 1933 was then running a new Hillman “Aero Minx”—I parked by the side of a very smart black-and-chromium Marendaz Special. I was greatly attracted by its appearance, and after having a chat with the owner and a good look found the car, I decided to pay a visit to the Marendaz works at Maidenhead. There were three cars available for demonstration runs—a “17/100” Supercharged tourer, a “17/80” unblown tourer and a “13/70” tourer. I was particularly interested in a “13/70” as I wanted a solidly built 4-seater, fairly fast, with, above all, long wearing qualities and accessibility.

During a demonstration which took place with four on board the car clocked 70 m.p.h. on the level and 76 on a falling gradient. The brakes were applied hard at 60 m.p.h. with hands off the steering wheel, and 60 m.p.h. was obtained in third gear. Minimum speed on top gear (4 to 1) was 6 m.p.h. without snatch. I was very pleased with the car and bought one soon afterwards. This car has, to date, covered 142,000 miles, the only replacements being (besides batteries, tyres, plugs mid contact-points) a new spider in the differential and a set of distributor gears. Starting is always instantaneous, even in the coldest weather, although the car is kept in the open.

The engine

The engine is a greatly modified American 6-cylinder side-valve, manufactured by the Continental Engine Co. These engines, in standard form, were fitted to the Erskine car. The following modifications were carried out by Marendaz Cars Ltd.: The blocks were linered and fitted with special pistons and con.-rods. (The crank in my own car is machined all over, as also are the rods.) A special head was fitted, also a three-branch external exhaust manifold incorporating a hot spot for a horizontal downdraught S.U. carburetter. The clutch was removed and a flat steel plate bolted in its place, serving to seal the rear of the crankcase and forming the rear engine bearer. An exposed flywheel and Borg & Beck clutch were fitted, the clutch shaft being in two pieces to enable either gearbox or clutch to be removed independently. This shaft is spigoted in the flywheel by a self-aligning ball-race, and this, and also the clutch centre-plate spline, are provided with a means of lubrication. The rear end of this shaft is supported by a very large, self-aligning race, carried in a housing which forms the front cover of a very large two-piece socket, the bottom half of which is built in one with a tubular cross member. This socket supports the gearbox, the front of which is cast in the shape of a hollow ball.

The gearbox

The gearbox, which is bolted on to the torque tube, rests in this socket, and inside the hollow hall, which forms the front end of the gearbox, is a Hardy Spicer universal joint. The main shaft of the gearbox is secured to the pinion shaft by a flanged coupling with four bolts. Provision is made to obtain access to these flange bolts through the torque tube, and the gearbox can thus he removed in 15 minutes, The complete clutch can also be dismantled in approximately the same time. The rear axle is of the fully floating type and is of very massive dimensions. Rear springing is cantilever. the rear ends of the springs running between bronze rollers under the axle casing. The whole of the drive is, therefore, taken by the large ball and socket previously mentioned, on the cross member amidships. Brakes are Lockheed, operating on very wide 14-in. drums, and combined with the foot pedal is a form of servo arrangement whereby the pressure exerted by the foot is increased by employing gears to step down the movement. Very powerful braking is obtained without using heavy pressure. Incidentally, the clutch pedal is also fitted with this device.

Quite recently I purchased from a breaker’s yard a complete 2-litre Marendaz identical to my own with the exception of the gearbox. This box, I understand, is of Marendaz manufacture, and the main shaft is in one length down to the pinion.. My own car has a beautiful gearbox, a Moss, I believe, with ball bearings throughout and straight-cut teeth. It is operated by a remote control working in an open gate. Some gearboxes fitted to the later 2-litre cars had plain bearings throughout.

Some successes

In 1935 a new 2-litre model was introduced, with a 3-carburetter Coventry Climax engine. This model broke the Class E Lap Record in the T.T. over the Ards Circuit: in 1935, driven by the late T. W. McCalla, and won a handicap race at Brooklands in the same year, driven by Miss D. Summers, at an average speed of 89.3 m.p.h. The white Marendaz Special. owned and driven by Mrs. A. E. Moss, was another well-known and successful Marendaz Special.

Beautiful bodies were fitted to these cars, the hoods disappearing into a well, which, in turn, was covered by a leather flap fitted with a zip-fastener. Later cars had a hinged decking in place of the leather flap and zip-fastener. Lighting and starting was by Lucas special series equipment. If any owner is troubled by excessive backlash in the transmission it can usually be traced to the spider in the differential being badly worn. The spider, and wheels, of a Ford “14.9” or “T” will, strangely enough, fit, and are very cheap and easy to obtain. Cylinder-head gaskets and manifold gaskets for the side-valve model are the same as used by the 18-h.p. Erskine and can still be obtained from Studebaker Ltd., Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London, N.W.

[Although our headnote states that the Marendaz Special came after the vintage era, this is, of course, not true of the “11/55” Anzani-engined model. But we believe all these cars are defunct, save, perhaps, for one in use overseas. Ed.]