BMC Competitions Department Celebrates its 60 Years

Photo for BMC Competitions Department Celebrates its 60 Years

The “Comps” Department was born in 1955, and was based alongside the MG factory in Abingdon. They prepared MGAs for LeMans, Sebring, Daytona, and other road races, but their greatest successes came with Austin Healeys and Mini Coopers which dominated International rallying over many years. The Mini won three Monte Carlo Rallies.

At MGLive at Silverstone this year (June 20th & 21st), there was a display of some 20 Works cars, along with the BMC Corporation’s transporter.


Included in the “Comps” display was an MGA Coupe that is still competing today in Historic Rallies. This car is registration # 151ABL, a 1622cc Mk II and has been owned by John & Sharen Halfpenny for more than 20 years. It has some minor modifications – Perspex side and rear windows with no winders (to save weight), glass fiber fenders, a 15 Imperial gallon fuel tank, a 4.5:1 ratio diff, and a bulge in the boot lid to allow 2 spare wheels to be stacked in the boot. Three driving lights are mounted up front. All modifications were homologated by the factory.


151ABL with John & Sharen Halfpenny

The car is pictured with its “summer” grill fitted – modified in a recent rally to prevent overheating on modern fuel. During its time with “Comps” it had a standard grill.

This MGA Coupe has a successful rallying history:

  • January 1962 – Twins Don & Eric Morley, finished first in class and 28th overall, in the Monte Carlo Rally
  • May 1962 – Rauno Aaltonen and Gunnar Palm won first in class, and 15th overall, in the Tulip Rally. In this event on the famous Col de Turini section, the MGA Coupe recorded the fastest time for all cars, beating the second place car by 13 seconds.

The last works event for this car was the 1962 Liege-Sofia-Liege rally in September, but the rough roads resulted in retirement due to a split fuel tank.

Typical Silverstone weather

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Reader Comments (1)

Picture of Ralph Zbarsky
Ralph Zbarsky (Vancouver, BC Canada)
on July 7, 2015 10:45pm
As an owner and racer of 2 BMC Works cars, I am always interested in articles featuring such cars. The MGA coupe 151ABL is a superb example.
Unfortunately the photo of the BMC transporter also shows the MGB GT #30, which some believe to be a Works car, but it is not. The real car, know as LBL591E, continued to race as a BMC Works entrant, with BMC team drivers, until being sold off after Sebring 1969 in the USA. It continues to race today, in the USA and Canada, and has a continuous known record of ownership.

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Last updated on July 7, 2015.