CAR : MGC
REG : `VHY 5H`
ENGINE : BMC in-line 6 cylinder 2912cc
POWER : AROUND 200 bhp in race trim
MODSPORT CAREER : March 1970 - April 1970
KNOWN MODSPORTS RACES : 6
CLASS WINS : 6
BEST FINISH : 4th overall Thruxton ,March 8th
Chatham was a vastly succesful pre-Modsport era racer with his wide arched Healey 3000 and returned to that 3000cc class for the new era with his first MGC lightweight at the start of the 1970 season. Racing against his old friends and rivals still in Healeys Chatham raced in 6 modsport championship rounds that spring winning his class at each one ,including 2 on the easter weekend. During this time the car was advertised for sale for £2000 ( about £30,000 in todays money ).
On May 3rd Chatham and co-driver Alan Harvey raced the car in the world famous Targa Florio round of the world sportscar championship in the mountain roads of Sicily . Not homolgated as a GT car the pair had to mix it in the 3-litre Prototype class along with the winning Porsche 908-3s. They did finish though ,in 39th place 3 laps behind the winner. Whilst never likely to win outright the venture marked one of the last races for a BMC car in the world championship after a long history of competing at the highest level with production-based cars.
In April 1971 John advertised the car in Autosport stating 'regretfully I am offering for sale the only full works spec car available in the country...' for a reduced £1795 ono ,the car went to Bill Kember. It remains a famous MG to this day.
"Chatham had the MG really screwed up into all sorts of inspiring angles" -
Autosport ,Castle Combe 1970
Chatham returned to racing late in 1970 with his second Modsport lightweight MGC . This was the only one of the 4 he built not to be road registered and turned out to be his long term racer and he owned it until 2004. 5 class wins in Modsports ,mostly at Castle Combe.
The MGC is widely regarded as the British Motor Company`s unsuccesful attempt to build a hairy chested 6-cylinder middle market sports car to replace the ageing Austin-Healey 3000. Some 9000 were built between 1967 and 1969 ,around half in GT Coupe form. When BMC closed their works racing departmenty in the late 60s it was up to a few privateers to continue to fly the flag. One such ,John Chatham the Healey racer from Bristol talked BMC into selling him the last 4 lightweight MGB GT bodies and he built them up in 1970 . Two of them featured here raced in Modsports.