Exceedingly Rare and Ultra Interesting Supercharged Alternative to a W.O. Bentley at a Fraction of the Cost!
1932 Marendaz Special 13/70
Chassis No. 3434
Original Registration No. JB753
Decorated Royal Flying Corps Pilot Captain Donald Marcus Kelway Marendaz was, Portuguese by descent, with generational roots in South Wales. As such Captain Marendaz proudly and frequently referred to himself as a Welshman. Though Brits often challenged his swarthy looks, he dedicated himself as a pioneer of early military aviation during the Great War, a career which ended in 1918 after he sustained a war injury. During his convalescence, he would discover engineering, beginning as a partner in the coventry-based Marseal Motors, where cars built at Marseal were already earning benefit from Marendaz’s engineering influence. Marendaz quickly applied his engineering skills to the growing automobile industry, eventually opening DMK Marendaz Ltd, sharing space with the London Cab Company and the London agent for Bugatti. Proud of his British upbringing, early examples of his designs combined a great deal of influence from Bentley. Without the funds to develop their own engines, the company used the 1.5 Liter Anzani engine, developing the first cars to bear the nameplate “Marendaz Specials”, which were built through the late 1920s. Having rapidly outgrown his space in the shared quarters and feeling a need to establish his own name and brand, Marendaz expanded to a larger location in Maidenhead, Berkshire where the company name was also changed to “Marendaz Special Cars Ltd”.
Officially a car manufacturer and now building cars of his own design, the company utilized Continental engines which Marendaz highly modified to meet their own specifications. Nearly all the automobiles built at this time were open configuration, holding either two or four passengers, all of which were decidedly of a sporting nature and suitable as competition entries. Captain Marendaz himself greatly appreciated the value of spirited competition and did his best to attract top drivers to campaign his cars, driving many of them himself to victories and records. Competing at Brooklands in the 20s and 30s, his passion for speed was evident in his cars, but also as a record-breaking driver in his own right behind the wheel of the American built Graham-Paige. Of particular note, Aileen Moss, mother of Sir Stirling Moss, would serve as a competition driver for Marendaz.
In addition to his automotive exploits, Marendaz was a very colorful character who was charming to the ladies, a taskmaster to his employees, often prickly with potential customers, and frequently involved in financial disputes. Though his business was operating at brisk capacity during the Great Depression, he demanded respect and productivity from his workers, but fairly compensated them especially if workers refrained from challenging his authority – something he often demanded as a show of respect. Securing customers who were patient with Captain Marendaz's bravado was challenging, but often won over when Marendaz himself would take a potential client for a speedy drive in one of his cars. Among the many hand-built items prepared on these cars, the earlier 13/70 series featured a Marendaz-designed and constructed gearbox that utilized ball-joints at the front and a torque tube clamp at the rear as well as a later evolved Laycock unit. The engines, originally supplied by Continental, were also rather specialized as they were eventually cast and machined at the factory while each of the uniquely built cars were constructed essentially piece by piece in accordance with customer order. Body designs, directed entirely by Marendaz were low, dynamic, and rather advanced for the period. In all, though sources vary on the actual number produced, approximately 80 cars were built, with the most desirable being the later 13/70 series cars constructed at the Maidenhead factory.
After the factory closed in 1936, Marendaz moved on to designing and manufacturing light aircraft, but disputes further dampened his spirits when charged and arrested by authorities in the UK, causing him to flee to South Africa in 1940 where he eventually set up a tractor factory. Troubles followed once again, this time fomented by Marendaz’s political ire, ushering his urgent return to the UK in the early 1970s where he remained until his death in 1988. Today any citing of a Marendaz Special must be considered both rare and extraordinary as merely a handful of these amazing pre-war cars are known to exist, fewer still in here in North America and in such rewarding mechanical and cosmetic condition.
This particular example, one of just seven built in 1932, is outfitted with the 2 Liter side valve six-cylinder Continental engine which, during the time this was manufactured, was cast, machined, and specially modified by the Marendaz factory. Among the many features of this fine example, the car was restored by well-known UK experts Wilkensons of Derby and has been fitted with a Supercharger, as offered by the factory in 13/85 or 13/90 model configuration. Documented in the online registry for Marendaz Specials, this example was first registered under license JB753 in August 1932. After delivery, this 13/70 remained in the UK with records showing ownership in Essex (1936), Middlesex (1946), Surrey (1950), Leicester (1958), and Derby (1960). Eventually the car was sold to G. Unsworth and subsequently shipped to Norway, then being restored by Wilkensons, shortly returning to the UK by way of owners in Germany and Austria before it was purchased by the current owner, a renowned Northern California classic car collector. Under current ownership, the engine has been rebuilt by the very capable experts Ricky and Randy Reed of Antique Auto Restorations, CA.
Today this remarkable Marendaz Special remains as one of the most impressive examples in existence today. The low-slung hand-formed alloy body exhibits a competition inspired stance with its louvered hood, doors dipped down in roadster style, and a raked windscreen. The rear of the car is bobbed in typical British fashion with a single spare tire mounted to the fabric covered and leather strapped fuel tank, capped by a machined external fuel filler. The beautifully curved fenders fit tightly to the tires, which feature wire wheels finished in silver. The British racing green finish is glossy throughout, exhibiting very good finish overall. The condition, design, and exterior details all display exceptional visual harmony – a pleasing surprise given that the design was intuitively evolved, becoming a dramatic improvement from previous executions. The roadster bodywork offers a classic profile with desirable proportions offering a bit of stately presence and sporting looks, particularly in the impressive front view.
The interior continues the sporting themes with original type instruments arrayed across a leather wrapped dashboard and accented by a commanding black steering wheel, complete with engine idle, throttle, and mixture controls. Although some provisions have been made for modern use, the overall look and feel is very authentic. The pleated leather seats have relaxed a bit since the restoration was completed, but seating surfaces, door panels, and carpeting have a unified and pleasant appearance overall. Just as with so many prewar cars, the beauty lies in the combination of restoration and enjoyable use, embodied by the preservation of such a rare car. Further unique details delight the eye including specially cast foot pedals bearing the company logo, an exposed switch gear for the later series and vastly improved Laycock 4-speed gearbox, and a delightful bronze cast emblem of St. Christopher affixed to the dashboard. The underside of the car is properly preserved with no evidence of structural compromise, boasting a remarkably clean and composed visual condition consistent with the originality and authentic finishes found throughout the car.
Under the hood, mechanical artistry is evident at every corner. Recently rebuilt by experts at Antique Auto Restorations, CA, the engine is updated with a few modern items, such as an electric cooling fan and modern hose clamps, however overall, the engine conveys an authentic feel, warmly hued by use and proudly displaying the Marendaz name. The Supercharger is a key feature of the engine and a wonderful visual as well as mechanical treat. Though originally offered on later series cars, this one has been recently fitted. Boasting a ribbed alloy casing, a trumpeting single carburetor, and delightful sounds, the Supercharger greatly adds to the aura of this roadster. The various mechanical components are a feast of detail and casting brilliance including the exhaust manifolds which terminate with flexible stainless pipes cascading down the passenger side. Studying each of the features of this fine car, one is instantly impressed by the hand crafting and engineering excellence from the engine compartment to the gearbox, suspension, and small details throughout the car. The underside of the car offers further evidence of handmade features all of which appear to have been restored with attention to detail offering a clean and tidy visual presentation consistent with the restored finishes found throughout the car.
In addition to being beautifully constructed, this roadster can also be driven with confidence. Aided by documented procedures included with the car, the starting process is quite simple within a brief period of familiarization. Once started and underway, the Supercharged engine offers a hearty roar when prompted. When on throttle, the acceleration is quite reminiscent of an Alfa 6C, particularly when the Supercharger comes on and the car comes to life. The manual gearbox is engaged in typical fashion, and within a few minutes at the wheel, shifting becomes familiar as the joy of the engine sounds take over. Under higher speeds, the ride is quite refined, enhanced by excellent visibility, comfortable seating position, and fantastic views across the expansive hood. For those unfamiliar with prewar cars, braking and gear selection requires some practice but after a few glorious miles, the result is an unforgettable driving experience that reminds one of the passionate engagements these cars continue to offer nearly a century after their inception.
This Marendaz Special offers an enthusiast of pre-war cars a unique opportunity to enjoy one of the finest examples of this rare and exciting marque. Rare in number and seldom seen in North America, this example represents an extraordinary opportunity for a collector/enthusiast to enter events, participate in tours, or simply enjoy as a formidable road car. With so many important cars of this era now residing in museums as immobilized sculpture, this is a wonderful opportunity to acquire a very usable car, one that embodies the thrill of power and performance in a very capable package. For anyone who desires a unique and sporting prewar automobile, this Marendaz Special will surely live up to the perfectionist demands of Captain Marendaz and continue to do so for generations to come.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
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