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4. Malcolm Sayer: Born in Cromer, Norfolk, England in 1916, our number 4 on the list used to live in Leamington Spa. Sayer is famously the designer of the Jaguar C-Type, D-Type and E-Type. In private he was also a musician, cartoonist and an excellent mimic.

Sayer passed the 11-plus at the age of 9, to attend Great Yarmouth Grammar School - where his father taught Maths and Art. An unusual combination for a teacher; this would seem to have been an early influence on Sayer’s later love of relating mathematical aerodynamics with beautiful curved shapes.

jaquar e type

In 1933, aged 17, Sayer gained an Empire Scholarship to study at Loughborough College – achieving a 1st class honours diploma in the Department of Aeronautical & Automotive Engineering.

He began his career as an aircraft engineer during World War II, working for the Bristol Aeroplane Company. He would spend 5 years in the experimental department at Filton, developing the Blenheim and Beaufighter aircraft. After the war, in 1948, he was given a job establishing the Faculty of Engineering at Baghdad University – this failed - and led to him spending his time in Iraq maintaining the fleet of government vehicles. He returned to the UK in late 1950.

 In early 1951, Sayer began work in the drawing office at Jaguar Cars Engineering and spent most of the 1950s designing their competition cars, working with William Heynes, R J Knight and T C Jones. Sayer’s first contribution: the Jaguar C-Type won Le Mans in 1951 and 1953.

He followed this success with the Jaguar D-Type, Jaguar E-Type, Jaguar XJ13 (racing prototype) and Jaguar XJS. The XJS was launched in 1975, 5 years after Sayer’s death.

The legendary Jaguar E-Type is on permanent display at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York – along with the plaque:

 “Sayer uniquely blended science and art to produce timeless shapes of exceptional and enduring beauty. He brought science to the art of car design; and scientifically produced works of art.”

Sayer died suddenly of a heart attack on The Parade, Leamington Spa in 1970, at the age of just 53. At the time of his death he was working as Director of Design at Jaguar.

In 2010, a blue plaque was unveiled at his last address – in Portland Place, Leamington Spa.

5. George Paulin: Born in Paris in 1902, Paulin was a dentist, an automobile designer and a war hero. He designed the first retractable hardtop convertible – the 1935 Peugeot 601 C Eclipse.

peugeot 401

Another pioneer of aerodynamics, Paulin “..was very conscious of fuel efficiencies and the aerodynamic efficiencies that could be created by the lines of the car.” (Richard Adatto, Author on French Aerodynamic Styling of the period).

Between 1934 and 1938 Paulin worked for the French coachbuilder Marcel Pourtout – his designs included the Panhard Coupe, Talbot-Lago (the water drop) and the Darl’Mat Peugeot vehicles that were used at Le Mans in 1937 and 1938.

While working as an engineer at Avions Kellner-Bechereau he joined the French Resistance and began assisting British Intelligence in their attempt to defeat the Nazis. He was eventually discovered and arrested by the Gestapo. An escape plan had been organised by the British, but choosing to protect his team, rather than himself – Paulin declined. He was executed in March 1942. Paulin received the Croix de Guerre and Medaille de Resistance medals posthumously from the French government.

This tragedy abruptly ended an already incredible career – if Paulin had survived the war who knows what other wonderful contributions to automobile design he would have made.

6. Franco Scaglione: Scaglione was born into a noble family in Florence, Italy in 1916. As a young man he studied aeronautical engineering, while also doing his military service. At the start of World War II he joined the Genio Guastatori and was sent to the Libyan Front – where he was captured in 1941 and became a prisoner of war. He was interned at a camp in India until 1946.

alfa romeo sprint

On returning to Italy, he began to earn a good living sketching for fashion houses. But his heart was in automobile design and this led him to move to Turin – where the major coaching firms were. Scaglione tried and failed to form a collaboration with Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina – despite Farina being impressed by his work. Success would come after a meeting with Nuccio Bertone and Scaglione’s designs were finally realised with, among others, the Alfa Romeo B.A.Ts and the Giulietta Sprint. He worked exclusively for Bertone until 1959.

After leaving Bertone, he went on to design the Porsche 356 B Abarth Carrera GTL, the Lamborghini 350 GTV, the Apollo and Torino for Intermeccanica and the beautiful Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.

After reportedly using his own savings for the production of Intermeccanica’s Indra and losing them when Intermeccanica went bankrupt – Scaglione retired. He died in 1993.

porsche 356

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Posted on 14th June 2019 at 6:23 PM

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