Jimmy Cox is a former engine guru and works mechanic at the MG Development Department responsible for many of the company’s racing and record-breaking successes. He was with the successful MG record breaking team at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1959 and was also part of the MG team who went to Le Mans in 1955. Jimmy Cox will be inducted into the British Sports Car Hall of Fame on June 2, 2017.
In 1945, at the young age of just 14, Jimmy Cox started work at MG’s Abingdon factory as a mere messenger boy. That eventually led to work on the MG TC production line, but in 1949 Cox entered the military for his two-year duties. Upon returning to MG in 1951 he again was working on standard production cars but soon had the opportunity to take over responsibility for building racing engines at Abingdon.
During the period prior to the 1955 Le Mans race, Jimmy and his colleagues were involved in the Monte Carlo entry of four Z Magnettes – known as the Four Musketeers.
Once the Le Mans cars had been built and tested they were ready to go to Le Mans:
We drove the four cars (three in the race plus LBL 304 as a spare) and I was in the third car, Douggie Watts in the last one. We were all going down the road in convoy on the way to Dover and the next thing I knew the back end had gone. I was about two-thirds of the way round a left hand bend and the car spun three times – I can remember Douggie shouting to me hold on to it Jim! and then the car suddenly swung the other way round and shot forwards. The car went up the bank as I put the anchors on, and to our amazement, there was no damage other than a slightly bent front number plate. I don’t know to this day whether or not Marcus Chambers ever got to hear about this!
After the horrible accident at Le Mans in 1955, the competition department at MG, like many other companies, looked for other venues to prove their performance prowess. This led to the record-attempting and record-breaking runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US.
In the spring of 1957, development and competition were split into two separate departments. Previously, the development shop had been in charge of not only normal development but also the record breaking trials. Cox worked on the early record breaking car EX135 when it came in and out of the shop. EX135 had been a record breaker, and in its final guise served as the inspiration for EX179. He would end up going Bonneville with EX179 and EX181.
EX181 went on to achieve 254 mph and lasting fame as the last of the factory record breakers. Cox stayed with the Development Department for the next twelve years, working on many other projects, until he left the section in 1971. He remained through the factory closure until December 1980.
Note: This is part of an ongoing series focusing on the 23 individuals who will be inducted into the British Sports Car Hall of Fame in ceremonies on June 2nd, 2017, at the Hall of Fame in Petersburg, VA.