Grace, Space and Pace – Tribute to Sir William Lyons

Sir William Lyons was born September 4, 1901 – , known as “Mr. Jaguar”, Lyons was born in Blackpool After attending Arnold School, Lyons he obtained an engineering apprenticeship at Crossley Motors in Manchester, where he also studied at the technical school. He left Crossley in 1919 to work as a salesman at the Sunbeam dealers Brown and Mallalieu in Blackpool.

In 1921 he met William Walmsley who was converting army-surplus motorcycles for civilian use and making sidecars. Lyons admired the sidecars and bought one. Lyons and Walmsley obtained  a substantial £500 bank guarantee to go into business.   So they founded  the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922,  which became Jaguar Cars Limited after the Second World War.Their plans were delayed as Lyons was under the legal age, but on his 21st birthday he formed a partnership with Walmsley. It was called Swallow Sidecars and had a staff of “three men and a boy”.The company manufactured stylish sidecars, but after 1927 made increasing numbers of low cost coach-built cars, especially the Austin Seven Swallow which the Blackpool factory produced at the rate of 12 per week. Following several moves to larger premises in Blackpool, in 1928 Lyons moved the company (and his family) to Coventry. His family home was Woodside, Gibbet Hill, on the fringe of the city. Production increased to 50 cars each week. In 1931 they began selling the SS1, and in 1933 the company name was changed to SS Cars Ltd. The following year, William Walmsley left the company. The first “Jaguar” model was offered in 1935, and after WW2 and Lyons also changed the company name to Jaguar.

During the War vehicle production was switched to aircraft manufacture and repair, but engineering development did continue. Some secretive military projects were undertaken but most importantly for the future of the company, Lyons and his engineering team worked on a new engine which was to power his vision of a mass produced sporting saloon car. The XK engine was completed in 1948 and launched in a (supposedly) one-off concept sports car to help draw attention to it. This succeeded far better than was envisaged and both became an overnight sensation, globally. The XK engine went on to power all Jaguars until its last appearance in 1983. The sports car, XK120, went into full production too and led to a string of attention-grabbing (and profitable) sports cars which led to international sporting success (most notably at Le Mans) and helped put the name of Jaguar Cars and Coventry on the world map. But Lyons main focus was on the saloon car which became his last and proudest achievement, the XJ6 of 1968.

He was responsible for the styling of every new model introduced (although the C-type, D-type, E-type and XJ-S were designed by Malcolm Sayer). This was remarkable, as Sir William was not a trained draughtsman, and designed primarily using full scale 3-D mockups, which were continually adjusted by craftsmen working under his instructions. Undoubtedly one of his other great skills was to pick the highly accomplished team that was to remain loyal to him for so long. In 1956 Lyons was knighted for his services to British industry and for the fine export performance of the company. In 1966, faced with a strengthening global industry, he merged Jaguar with the British Motor Corporation (BMC) to form British Motor Holdings, which was later absorbed into British Leyland. Unfortunately the final years of Lyons tenure before he retired as managing director near the end of 1967, while remaining on as chairman, were a constant struggle against impossible odds to retain the identity and independence of his company, not least its engineering department. He retired completely in 1972, His health declined fairly rapidly in retirement but happily he did live long enough to witness a remergence of sorts of his company under John Egan. Sir William’s daughter Patricia also married Leeds Jaguar-distributor and rally driver Ian Appleyard, and was his co-driver in many international rallies from 1951 to 53, mostly in an XK120 registered NUB 120, including the Alpine Rally, which they won three times. Sadly Sir William Lyons passed away on 8 February 1985 February 8, 1985)at Wappenbury Hall, Leamington Spa, his home in Warwickshire. His wife Greta died the following year.

Car Engineer of the Century – Tribute to Ferdinand Porsche

Best known for creating many Porsche automobiles as well as the first hybrid vehicle (gasoline-electric), the Volkswagen Beetle, and the Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK, .Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche was born 3rd September 1875 in in Maffersdorf in the Czech Republic. He showed high aptitude for mechanical work at a very young age. He managed to attend classes at the Imperial Technical School in Reichenberg (Czech: Liberec) at night while helping his father in his mechanical shop by day. Thanks to a referral, Porsche landed a job with the Béla Egger Electrical company in Vienna when he turned 18 In Vienna he would sneak into the local university whenever he could after work. Beyond auditing classes there, Porsche had never received any higher engineering education. During his five years with Béla Egger, Porsche first developed the electric hub motor.

In 1898, Porsche joined the Vienna-based factory Jakob Lohner & Co, that produced coaches for Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, as well as for the kings of England, Sweden, and Romania. Lohner had begun construction of automobiles in 1896 under Ludwig Lohner. Their first design, unveiled in 1898, was the “System Lohner-Porsche”, a carriage-like car driven by two electric motors, directly fitted within the front wheel hubs, and powered by batteries. This drive train construction was easily expanded to four-wheel drive, by simply mounting two more electric motors to the rear wheels as well, and indeed such a specimen was ordered by the Englishman E. W. Hart in 1900. In December that year, the car was presented at the Paris World Exhibition under the name Toujours-Contente. Even though this one-off vehicle had been commissioned for the purposes of racing and record-breaking.

Whilst employed by Lohner, Porsche introduced the”Mixte”vehicle/transmission concept in 1901: instead of a massive battery-pack, an internal combustion engine built by the German firm, Daimler, was fitted to a generator to drive the electric hub motors and (for vehicle reliability) a small battery pack. This way Porsche had created the first petroleum electric hybrid vehicle on record, although since sufficiently reliable gears and couplings weren’t available at the time, he chose to make it a series-hybrid, an arrangement currently more common in diesel-electric or turbo-electric railway locomotives than automobiles. he up to 56 km/h (35 mph) fast carriages broke several Austrian speed records, and also won the Exelberg Rally in 1901 with Porsche himself piloting a front-wheel drive hybrid specimen. It was later upgraded with more powerful engines from Daimler and Panhard, which proved to be enough to post more speed records. In 1905, Porsche was recognized with the Poetting prize as Austria’s most outstanding automotive engineer. In 1906, Austro-Daimler recruited Porsche as their chief designer. Porsche’s best known Austro-Daimler car was designed for the Prince Henry Trial in 1910, named after Wilhelm II’s younger brother Prince Heinrich of Prussia. Examples of this streamlined, 85 horsepower (63 kW) car won the first three places, and the car is still better known by the nickname “Prince Henry” than by its model name “Modell 27/80”.

By 1916 Porsche had advanced to Managing Director and received the honorary doctorate degree, “Dr. techn h.c.” from the Vienna University of Technology in 1917 (hence the “Dr. Ing h.c” in his name, meaning “Doktor Ingenieur Honoris Causa”). Porsche successfully continued to construct racing cars, winning 43 out of 53 races with his 1922 design. In 1923, Porsche left Austro-Daimler but landed a new job as Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft’s Technical Director in Stuttgart, Germany a few months later. He received another honorary doctorate from the Stuttgart Technical University for his work at Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft in Stuttgart and later the honorary title Professor. While at Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, he came up with several very successful race car designs. The heavy series of models equipped with superchargers that later culminated in the Mercedes-Benz SSK dominated its class of motor racing in the 1920s.He also designed the Benz Tropfenwagen, which was the first race car with mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. In 1926, Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie merged into Daimler-Benz, with their joint products called, Mercedes-Benz.

In April 1931 Porsche founded his consulting firm, Dr. req. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH, Konstruktionen und Beratungen für Motoren und Fahrzeugbau, in Stuttgart, Then founded a subsidiary company Hochleistungs Motor GmbH (High Efficiency Engines Ltd.) in 1932 to develop a racing car, for which he had no customer. Based on Max Wagner’s mid-engined layout 1923 Benz Tropfenwagen, or “Teardrop” aerodynamic design; the experimental P-Wagen project racing car (P stood for Porsche), was designed according to the regulations of the 750 kg formula. The main regulation of this formula meant that the weight of the car without driver, fuel, oil, water and tire was not allowed to exceed 750 kg.

In June 1934, Porsche received a contract to design a “people’s car” (or Volkswagen), following on from his previous designs such as the 1931 Type 12 car designed for Zündapp. The first two prototype cars were completed in 1935. These were followed by several further pre-production batches during 1936 to 1939. During the war, production concentrated almost exclusively on the military Kübelwagen and Schwimmwagen variants. Mass production of the car, which later became known as the Beetle, commenced after the end of the war. The city is named Wolfsburg today and is still the headquarters of Volkswagen Group. Having garnered state funds It was agreed that it would be better for Mercedes Benz and Auto Union to develop their projects separately resulting in funds being split between Mercedes and Auto Union This highly annoyed Mercedes, who had already developed their Mercedes-Benz W125, and resulted in a fierce rivallry between the two companies.

In November 1945 after the war, Porsche was asked to continue the design of the Volkswagen, The company also started work on a new design, the Porsche 356, the first car to carry the Porsche brand. The Porsche family returned to Stuttgart in 1949 but had trouble restarting their business after the war. When Ferry Porsche eventually did resurrect the company he counted on series production figures of about 1,500. However ot proved hugely popular and More than 78,000 Porsche 356s were manufactured in the following 17 years.Porsche was also contracted by Volkswagen for additional consulting work and received a royalty on every Volkswagen Beetle manufactured. This provided Porsche with a comfortable financial situation as more than 20 million Beetles were built.

In November 1950, Porsche visited the Wolfsburg Volkswagen factory for the first time since the end of World War II and discussed the future of the VW Beetle which was already being produced in large numbers. Sadly Porsche suffered a stroke A few weeks later from which He did not fully recover, and died on 30 January 1951. During his life Porsce recieve many awards for his work, In 1937, Porsche was awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science, In 1996, Porsche was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and in 1999 he posthumously won the award of Car Engineer of the Century.In 2010 an official memorial was also erected in Porsche’s birthplace in Vratislavice nad Nisou, Czech Republic, featuring a Porsche 356