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Merv Therriault

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#1 Doug Nye

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 16:44

Regrettably, just received from the BRDC...

The Club has just learned that Canadian Life Member Mervin ‘Merv’ Therriault passed away last Saturday just over a week after his 88th birthday. An early member of the Sports Car Club of British Columbia, Merv competed with a Jaguar XK120 before travelling to Europe in 1957 to visit the major races the Nurburgring, Le Mans and Aintree.  By the end of the year he was broke but was able to use his one year gas welding course at Vancouver Technical College as a basis for persuading Colin Chapman to employee him at Lotus Engineering in Hornsey.  Merv worked on the first Lotus single seater, the Type 12, production Lotus Elevens and the prototype Elite which in turn led him to be taken on as a mechanic with Team Lotus for the 1958 season when it was running the Type 12 in Formula 1 and Formula 2 and the Type 15 in sports car racing including Le Mans.  He was also responsible for delivering a Type 12 to Denis Jenkinson on Christmas Day so that Jenks could drive the car on the public highway to fulfil a plan which he had hatched with Colin Chapman earlier in the year.

It was in 1958 that Merv became an Associate (Mechanic) Member of the BRDC, proposed by Colin Chapman and seconded jointly by Cliff Allison and Mike Costin.  Although Merv returned to Canada shortly afterwards, he never lost touch with the BRDC, making an annual pilgrimage to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix – Members visiting the Campsite will no doubt recall the ageing VW Campervan which served him so well.

To Merv’s son Bob and daughter Michelle the BRDC extends its sincere condolences.

My sincere condolences to Merv's family and many friends...


#2 llmaurice

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 18:22

   Having known Merv for over 60 years since our early Hornsey days   we were reunited in the '90s when we would meet up every year ar the British GP .I sometimes stayed in the old Wesphalia or it's bright orange awning ,  this being  quite painless after  time was spend at "The Pig" ,a gathering of motor sport friends and drinking buddies in the BRDC Campsite.

   Everyone knew Merv and his various travel tales either in his original 1957 Beetle (collected from the Factory) when he travelled Europe with his wife and newly born Son having had various members of Lotus at Hornsey build a sink,bottle warming facility and numerous other essentials  for the Beetle after work hours and his journeys round Europe in what was once new (and again collected from the factory)  Wesphalia .

   Merv was also famous for the gas powered kettle that flew through the roof mysteriously one evening at the Factory .The Lotus 12 Christmas road run is well recorded elsewhere  .This came about when every sane person at Lotus was taking a hard earned break but good old Merv volounteered to help to make the run happen.

In his younger days in Canada he concocted a strange vw off road vehicle  and was also involved in the setting up of his local motor sport circuit ,more of which I'm sure other folk will elaborate on.

 As recently as last year we were trying to bring about the saving of the famous  pond in the BRDC members campsite but I fear the requests that Merv made fell on deaf ears . But that's all over now that a whole load of people have lost a dear friend who stood out from the crowd of Hooray Henrys that

one so often encounters in our modern motorsport world .

Goodbye old Mate You will be missed .

#3 Jeff Weinbren

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 02:41

R.I.P. Merv, you will be missed at the quarterly "Geezers" lunches in Vancouver,

Jeff Weinbren

#4 RoddyMac17

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 19:21

I'm saddened to hear of Merv's passing.  I used to work at a local MG/Triumph shop and his MG M-type was a regular in the shop (broken flywheel, then threw a rod).  When he heard that I was thinking about building a Lotus Eleven he dropped by the shop one day and handed me a stack of drawings which turned out to be most of the detail drawings for the Lotus Eleven Club (series 1).  He said that when he was at Lotus they were moving the drawing office and Colin told them that the old drawings weren't to be saved.  Merv decided to liberate the Eleven drawings, and had his eye on some others (possibly for the Mk 2 or 3, I can't recall what he told me), but someone else beat him to them.  I'll definitely miss chatting with him about his exploits of being at Lotus and his Westwood days.



Edited by RoddyMac17, 03 October 2017 - 19:22.

#5 ensign14

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 20:04

proposed by Colin Chapman and seconded jointly by Cliff Allison and Mike Costin



Not a bad set of references to have. 

#6 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 06:01

Very, very sorry to hear this.  Merv would become quite emotional when he spoke of his days at Lotus.


He and I had some great adventures together over the years.  We attended the Fabulous Fifties banquets in LA which honored Pete Lovely, Chuck Daigh, and Phil Remington.  The photos show him with Pete Lovely, Phil & Alma Hill, and Dan Gurney.  He described it as being “among the gods…”








In June, we attended the launch, In Tacoma, of Martin Rudow’s book on Pete Lovely.  Merv said he wasn’t feeling too well at that point, but he soldiered on regardless.  He took a turn at the microphone.


More on Merv at this link:




For the record, Merv turned 89 on September 22.  I'll miss him.


Vince H.

Edited by raceannouncer2003, 04 October 2017 - 06:01.

#7 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 05:15

From Merv's son Bob:


"I thought I would let you know that we have the bones of the memorial site up for Dad and I am hoping that we can start to populate it with some of the pictures that have been sent....Feel free to let others know about the site and hopefully it will become a place where we can share stories and pictures. The site is found at mervtherriault.com and any suggestions that you have would be welcome, although I must admit things are pretty busy at the moment and response may not be instantaneous.

Cheers, bob"


Vince H.

#8 David Birchall

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:01

I would like to add the condolences of the Vancouver based "Tea & Crumpet Club" of which Merv was a long time member.  Regularly attending lunch meetings in either one of his MGs or his tatty VW camper (not the Silverstone one!)  and bringing interesting items of motorsport trivia to discuss.

He will be badly missed.

#9 M bennett

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 11:26

Condolences from Australia.

I was privileged to communicate and meet with Merv twice over some 17 years. It all started back in 2000 when I was researching the history of Lotus 12 #353. Over a few months it was apparent that I was in contact with both Mo Levy (llmaurice) in the UK and Merv in Vancouver. When I casually mentioned to Merv that I had Mo's address he was ecstatic, they had not been in contact, I believe, since 1958. It was one of the great thrills of my researches to be able to reconnect them. Consequently Merv and Mo met up every year at the British GP from 2001 to last year 2016. I finally met Merv in 2009 in Vancouver when we jointly gave a talk to the local Lotus club.

 We met again for four days at the Goodwood FOS 2012. Lotus 12 #353 was there from Adelaide, the very car used in the Christmas Day/Denis Jenkinson escapade 1957.

   We (David Head and I) shared digs with Merv near Goodwood. Merv had a wonderful weekend, meeting many Lotus people from the early era, Mrs Hazel Chapman, Mrs Bette Hill, and of course Clive Chapman. After the FOS I drove Merv back to Silverstone and shared a cuppa in the now famous Westfalia.

      Merv's stint at Lotus was peppered with many stories, the most famous of course was his offer to go to Hartley Wintney on Christmas Day 1957 to prepare and start the Lotus 12 for Denis Jenkinson to drive on public roads. I will include here the account as written by Merv: 


Hello Mike Bennett:

Many thanks for your copies of "Jenks" photos you unearthed. Your detective skills are paying off. My recolection of the day is incompleat but reason fills the gaps.I definetly did not travel over with Mr Chapman, I had my own new Beatle, so could rendevou at the site and I do recall Colin bringing the 12 on the trailer,so the "lark" would not originate at the "Works" where the 12 was housed. My very clear recall is of this tiny man Jenks wearing I am sure two or three coats, for there wasn't a heater, with his feet bound in sacking to twice their size for warmth and we smiled how he would work those little pedals. I mean the sacking was not as a W.W.1. soldier would wrap puttees, but rather as a nurseryman would bind the roots of a tree for sale. Lumpy hemp sack bunched and tucked and held with enough wraps of farm twine to do the job. I recall the whole event was not more than an hour, meeting on time, which must have been appointed for 12, for "departure" was 1.p.m. Colin did leave first, then Jenks, and then myself. 


 We did find pictures taken of this event, however Bill Boddy, who took the photographs, made sure no identifiable people were in the pictures. The escapade being a little to the left of her Majesties road rules the last thing needed was photographic evidence of those involved.

 Merv typified the long line of enthusiasts who arrived at Tottenham Lane, Hornsey eager to be part of the Lotus success. An era long gone but never bettered? He was very proud of his poster of collated prints he took inside and around Lotus in 1957, one hangs prominently on the wall inside Classic Team Lotus

Merv you will be remembered by many, 

Condolences to his family and his wide network of friends

Mike Bennett


#10 Gary C

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 13:28

I only met Mervyn once, in 2002 I think, when llmaurice got us all into the BRDC Clubhouse, me in my FOM uniform. We passed a very enjoyable hour in there chatting about Lotus times. RIP Merv.

#11 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 07:52

Please refer to https://www.mervtherriault.com/ for more info on Merv's Celebration of Life.


Vince H.

#12 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 00:32

From Bob Therriault, Merv' son:


"Hello everyone,

I have put up some edited segments of Dad's Celebration of Life on the mervtherriault.com website.

The three video segments are found directly below the obituary entry on the front page. They can be accessed either through the website or through the following links

Part one 13 minutes (Maurice Levy, Jack Hay, Jerry Bailey, Hugh Gloster, Ken Woodward)- https://youtu.be/qZqjEx9EtLM
Part two 11 minutes (Colin Fitzgerald, Kim Herford, Ben Manning, Vince Howlett, Pete Schofield)- https://youtu.be/l5DRW3TC8SQ
Part three 13 minutes (James Beckett, Henning Jensen, Patsy McMillan, Fern Jeffries, Bob Therriault) - https://youtu.be/mtH5SzX7mIU

It was a very special day for everyone and we thank those who were able to attend and contribute their recollections of Dad. I think when you watch the videos you will appreciate how many people he touched in his life. If you were unable to attend this will be an opportunity to share some of those stories and you know that above everything else that Dad did in his life, he was about sharing adventures and stories with people.

Feel free to share this email with anyone you think may be interested in viewing.

Cheers, bob"


Vince H.

#13 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 06 November 2018 - 05:33

From Bob Therriault, Merv's son:


"Hello Everyone,

It is hard to believe that it has been over a year since Dad has passed. We all still miss him, but on what would have been Dad’s 90th birthday on September 22 2018, Bob and Diane, Wendy and Ken, and Michele and Bryan travelled to Great Britain to scatter Dad’s ashes at Silverstone pond accompanied by Julie and Phil Dunne. Many thanks to Lisa Benamore and Stephanie Sykes-Dugmore of the BRDC for being so accommodating to our family. After that memorable day, the kids and partners spent 4 days on a narrow boat discovering the locks, canals and countryside of England. It was an experience that Dad would have enjoyed immensely.

We have updated the bottom of the webpage at mervtherriault.com to include some new pictures.

We hope that the last year has treated you well and if you get a chance to tip a vodka and cranberry, think of Merv and share a smile.

Cheers, bob"


Vince H.

Edited by raceannouncer2003, 06 November 2018 - 05:34.