James Cullen & The Pink Panther

The Independent Nexday Pink Panther at the Circuit of Ireland.  Photo : Owen Cooke

James Cullen is a legendary name in Irish rallying. Cullen won the Donegal Rally in 1991 and 1999, and amazingly finished 2nd five times, and 3rd four times. Cullen, and the great Welsh navigator, Ellen Morgan, competed in a distinctive pink Sierra Cosworth. It became a hit with fans – both for its audacious looks, and its pilot’s scant regard for just how quickly non-works cars should go!

James Cullen & Ellen Morgan celebrating their win in the Donegal Rally.  From Donegal Daily.  Photo by Brian McDade. 

Cullen, often in a 2-wheel drive Group N Sierra, was usually battling against Group A 4-wheel-drive “works” cars, like Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza, Bertie Fisher’s Sierra Cosworth, Austin McHale’s Toyota Celica. It was thrilling to watch from the ditches or on RPM Motorsport‘s regular rally shows on RTÉ. Only the bravest would jump into a car with Cullen around his homeplace of Donegal. Ellen Morgan, his fearless navigator, did so for both wins. Morgan sadly passed away in 2006.

The Independent Nexday Pink Panther at the Circuit of Ireland.  Photo : Owen Cooke

In the early days of Independent Express Cargo & their Belfast-based operation Independent Nexday, they sponsored Cullen. The ‘Independent’ sponsored ‘Pink Panther’ ran in the Circuit of Ireland 1990 (highlights) & 1991 (highlights), and the Manx International Rally 1991 (highlights). At the time the Circuit of Ireland was a well promoted three day event all across the island. The Manx International needs no introduction. The highlights reel speaks for itself.

James Cullen & Ellen Morgan in action. Donegal 1999. In-car footage. (Not for the faint-hearted!)

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