17/1/1897 - 6/11/1988
Record updated 17-Jan-07
Donald Marendaz helped launch Alvis, but then left start Marseal another manufacturer. When Marseal folded in 1925 he launched the Marendaz Special which he built from 1926 to 1936. Donald raced at Brooklands and his cars were also raced by his secretary Miss Dorothy Summers and by Mr and Mrs AE Moss, the parents of Sir Stirling Moss.
Donald Marendaz was born in Margam, South Wales, his ancestors had come from Switzerland in the 18th century. After serving as an apprentice at Siddeley-Deasy, he left to join the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 training as a pilot and seeing action in France over the Western Front with 35 Squadron. He played a major role in the battle of Cambrai when over 300 tanks were used for the first time as his Armstrong-Whitworth FK8 was the only spotter plane to penetrate the fog over the battlefield. He was invalided out in 1918.
He was then part of the team that founded Alvis, but left soon after to start Marseel with Mr Seelhaft who had also worked at Siddeley-Deasy. Marseel made gearboxes for Emscote. But when Emscote didn't take delivery of the the boxes, they mated then to Coventry-Simplex engines to make complete cars. Seelhart left in 1923 and the company changed its name to Marseal. When Marseal folded in 1925 he launched the Marendaz Special which he built from 1926 to 1936.
DMK Marendaz Ltd was located in the premises of the London Cab Company in Brixton where the London agents for Bugatti and Graham-Paige were also based. It would appear that the money to fund his manufacturing business came from profit made from selling luxury second hand cars and from servicing and tuning work. In 1932 the company was re-organised as Marendaz Special Cars Ltd and moved to Cornwallis Works in Maidenhead.
The cars had a strikingly similar grill to the Bentley of the time, but Bentley decided not to sue on the grounds that Marendaz had no money and that his business was in such dire straits that he would not be around for long. Marendaz himself was quite litigious often threatening legal action against anyone who made negative remarks about his cars.
Donald raced his cars at Brooklands and other circuits and entered Le Mans twice but never arrived. He raced up until 1931 when his secretary, Dorothy Summers, took over the driving until 1936, the year in which she won the Easter Short Handicap race at Brooklands. Mr and Mrs AE Moss, the parents of Stirling also raced his cars.
Donald Marendaz became owner of two airfields, where he set up flying schools, turning out nearly 500 pilots. He also set up Marendaz Aircraft Ltd in 1936 and designed and built three aircraft, however the business never got off the ground.
He was also a supporter of Oswald Moseley leader Of the British Union of Fascists and this led to him being jailed in 1940 on security charges however he was released after a few days thanks to the intervention of the Sunday Express who pointed out his record in WWI.
After WW2 emigrated to South Africa, returning to Asterby, Lincolnshire in the UK in 1971. He died in 1988.