The BMC Farina is a world championship winning racing car!
Banger Racing during the 1970's and 1980's was sustained by a seemingly limitless supply of these cars. Despite the bad reputation the sport has achieved in more recent times as a minority of unscrupulous drivers have stolen classic cars, Banger Racing is inextricably linked to the history of the Farina. A large proportion of the club's membership consists of people who were involved in banger racing when younger buy who have now restored an example of the cars they used to smash up! Indeed some of the finest examples still in existence have been preserved or restored by former Banger drivers who all have great affection for these cars.
One such car is seen here- an Austin A110 Westminster Mk2 Super Deluxe now owned by our former Chairman and still active member Les Williams. This car was bought in the 1970's by former Banger Driver, Dave "The Guv" Melbourne (100) of Yateley in Surrey. "The Guv" was the head of a racing dynasty that produced two World Champions in the early 1970's and he only raced 3 Litre Farinas. This car was bought by him and locked away in a garage with just 6,000 miles on the clock and, when it emerged from its long slumber a few years ago, was established as probably the best surviving original example still on the road.
It is ironic but the success of these cars in the classic car world, their continued popularity and consequent popularity of the club is definitely due in large part to the car's suitability for banger racing.
The BMC Farina dominated Banger racing throughout the 70's and early 80's. The first properly recognised Banger World Champion, "Blondie" Melbourne (93) was crowned in 1974 driving an A60. The cars won the Championship a further 5 times with the last victory coming quite some time after they were truly competitive; when Sean Gallagher (112) became the 1986 World Champion in a Wolseley 6/110.
The cars are the very reason Banger Racing flourished. Often a whole field would be nothing but A60s because they were so much better than anything else for the job in hand, creating destruction and spectacle, noise and glory, but due to their inherent strength and lack of power, rarely injury. The steering box is well protected and will continue to function if bent, the distributor (unlike that of the otherwise strong P5 Rover) is well hidden low down on the block and is protected from damage whilst the heater box shelf is tailor made for a water tank once the radiator is removed.
One of our members recently met Kenneth Rider who worked in the engine testing shop at Longbridge. Apparently when they were developing the twin valvespring Magnette and Riley version of the B-series they were concerned about longevity so ran a number test engines in this sequence:
5,000rpm for 30 minutes
900rpm tick-over for 10 minutes
5,000rpm for 30 minutes
Then another 10 minutes of tick-over etc etc.
This was done for 24 hours non stop. After the 5th or 6th cycle the manifolds would glow red for the remainder of the test! As a young apprentice this really impressed Ken. Well we can confirm that the testing paid off in Demolition Derby wins at least… although somehow I doubt Len Lord had that in mind when this sort of testing was demanded. In short, if Colin Chapman had designed a car specifically for banger racing he would have designed the BMC Farina!
Some people now say that Banger Racing killed all the Farinas, but as time has marched on all those family cars of the 1950's and 1960's have faded away.
The 1100/1300 range was the most prolific British car of that time and yet there are still very few left - no use for Banger Racing, they have simply succumbed to rust and the scrap-man's axe
- as the Farinas surely would have too had they not been seemingly built for destruction and mayhem.
Farinas were cheap, plentiful, strong, easy to prepare and would often run without water or oil for long periods!
Granadas and Jaguar XJ's are currently the banger of choice but the A60, A110 and derivatives will always have a special place in the heart of anyone involved in Banger racing.
For generations of banger drivers at least, no other cars will be as cool, or as much loved...