I must bear the dubious responsibility for getting Jean-Louis Marnat and Jem Marsh together (15 Minutes of Fame, December).
Marnat was a client of mine in Paris whom I had met at hillclimbs in France and Switzerland in 1962 and ’63. He was the man to beat in Mini Coopers but I don’t think he was as quick as Mauro Bianchi in a Fiat Abarth; I was the scourge of the 1600 Porsches in a Lawrencetune Morgan Plus 4, and occasionally beat the odd AC Ace-Bristol.
I informed Jem at the 1965 Racing Car Show that I had a Frenchman who was keen to import his Mini-Marcos kits to France and dangled the possibility of a Le Mans entry.
The Le Mans shell was delivered to Paris on the back of my Mini pickup. I was also involved in talks with Stuart Turner about the engine. He released one on condition that it was not attributable to BMC Competitions’ Special Tuning.
I have to concur with everything Jem said in the article: the French made an absolute pig’s ear of the car and we just slunk away when we saw it ‘finished’ at scrutineering. The team never even bothered to run-in the engine beforehand; it was a little bit tight to start with but was running a lot better by the end of the race!
Gregor Grant was absolutely correct, too: to classify as a finisher, cars had to come within a certain percentage of the winner’s speed and the little Marcos just squeaked in despite Jem’s entreaties to the team to go slower.