One of the fascinating aspects of aiming to complete a column each month – is sourcing a useful story.
The other week I received an email from Ken Smith, the editor of Classic MG Magazine published in California. Ken is researching the story of Sydney Perelman, a well known humorist, traveller, script writer for the Marx Brothers and an MG owner.
In 1978 he wished to undertake a trip from Paris to Peking in his MG YT (Chassis No YT 3174) that he had originally bought in Bangkok in 1949 but in fact collected from the UK in June of that year. The YT had been in store in the US for several years from 1970–78 and was shipped to the UK in June in 1978 prior to commencing the run. The avowed aim of this exhibition was to commemorate a then half forgotten Peking to Paris road race of 1907 when nine motorists accepted the challenge of a French newspaper and crossed Europe and Asia in a duel with time and hardship.
I briefly recalled an article of the time that featured in the Sunday Times and was due to be followed up as the journey progressed. Ken’s request had me searching through a set of files containing copies of John Lawson’s Y Type Register newsletter. These were forwarded to me by fellow committee member and long time scribe of Safety Fast! Neil Cairns. Amongst these was a set of press cuttings from the Sunday Times dated 3 and 24 September 1978 and from the Abingdon Herald of August 1979.
Perelman originally selected as his travelling companion and mechanic a ‘blonde amazon from Pine Bluff, Arizona’. He was quoted in the Atticus column of the Sunday Times: ‘She knew zilch about engines, but she was a dazzling creature of six feet two inches of dimpled beauty’. He added, ‘I think she was in love with a white hunter in Kenya and hoped we might be passing through.’
Continued next month…