A BRIEF HISTORY OF SPIDER – by Heyns Stead (23 November 2020)
After the 2nd World War there were no Factory race cars, so drivers built their own by converting sports cars to single seater race cars.
Spider is built on an MG TC chassis, with home made aluminium body, a higher diff ratio and modified MG XPAG 1250cc engine.
Les Miller Formed ‘Ecurie Miller’ late 1940 consisting of 5 or 6 cars that were not all his.
Les told me in 1994 that Spider was his favourite race car and that it was the most famous of the Ecurie Miller cars.
Les had 5 National wins in Spider and was runner up in the SA Drivers Championship in 1953, 1954 and 1955.
Gus McLeod bought Spider from Les in 1957. Gus partook in Hillclimbs and circuit racing, winning the Fairfield 100 in 1958, a sixth National win for Spider.
Gus was responsible for completing the 4 Amal carburettor installation on Spider.
Gus sold Spider to Phil Howie in 1973.
Phil was Chairman of the MGCC Johannesburg Centre and a Committee member of the HRCR. Driving Spider Phil was the HRCR’s National champion in 1975.
Phil’s best time in Spider at the old Kyalami Circuit was 2m 03.6 seconds while a racing MGB was just 2 seconds faster and Midgets were 10 seconds slower than Spider.
Phil sold Spider to Hendry Bessinger in 1975 where Spider just languished in storage until 1988 when Arnold Sommer acquired Spider.
Arnold rebuilt Spider and showed the car at the 1990 MG National Gathering in East London. Martin vd Merwe knew Arnold would never race Spider and to ensure spider was not sold overseas, Martin structured the deal whereby I purchased Spider in late 1990.
I started racing when the Fine Cars Series was inaugurated in 1989. I first raced a TD special that Roger Pearce had built, and then my 1953 MG TF, now in the Franschhoek Motor Museum. From 1991 I raced Spider in the Historic Class of the Fine Cars Series.
In 2005 the HSSA was formed. This has been an ideal series for me to race Spider. Racing Spider I have been HSSA’s National Champion 3 times.
Spider and I have competed in the Simola Hillclimb 9 times, winning twice and with 3 second places. The best win was beating a 2.2 litre, quad cam Elva Porche into second place.