McBegg carries a big heap of history

22:31, Feb 14 2013
RESTORED: Walter Willmott, left, and Jamie Conroy, with the McBegg that will be on show at Teretonga this weekend as part of the Classic SpeedFest.

A car with a huge connection to both Southland and New Zealand motorsport will provide some demonstration runs at the Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest at Teretonga this weekend.

The original McBegg sports car was the eighth of 18 cars built by Drummond's George Begg.

Begg had worked for Kiwi motor racing icon Bruce McLaren at the McLaren factory in England and packed a container with bits and sent it to Drummond where it arrived on December 23, 1968.

Included in the container were a chassis from the 1966 McLaren M1B and the body from Denny Hulme's M6 Can-Am car.

Rebuilt at Drummond as a McBegg, the car ran successfully throughout New Zealand for several years with a number of drivers, including Southlander Barry Keen and West Otago's Laurence Brownlie, who broke a land speed record in it.

After it fell into disrepair, Walter Willmott, now resident in Southland, who was at McLaren when the original M1B and M6 cars were built, decided to restore the vehicle as it was the missing link of the Begg cars.

"I knew the chassis and I knew George," he said.

He located the few parts remaining, a new chassis was built in England and a Can Am body from Canadian Jay Esterer was sourced and, after much painstaking work, the car will be on track this weekend.


The Southland Times