Classic Cars Walter Hayes 2
Classic Cars Walter Hayes 1

Walter Hayes: 1924-2000
Classic Cars
March 2001
courtesy and copyright of Classic Cars

Walter Hayes, the former Ford executive and Aston Martin chairman, has died aged 76. He leaves behind a legacy of great cars.

Having joined Ford in 1961, Hayes first move was to develop the Cortina GT with a high-performance camshaft engineered by Keith Duckworth at Cosworth. But when the competition started catching up, he turned to Colin Chapman of lotus fame, who developed a twin-cam head for the Cortina’s engine. The legendary Lotus Cortina was born.

In 1964, Hayes was appointed director of Ford Advanced Vehicles and charged with developing the GT40. The car won Le Mans 24-hour race four years running.

He was also instrumental in the development of the Ford-Cosworth DFV racing engine, which took the world by storm when Jim Clark won age 1967 Dutch Grand Prix in a DFV-powered Lotus 49, its maiden race.

After retiring from Ford in 1989, Hayes was called back as chairman of Aston Martin. His DB4 became the inspiration for the Aston Martin DB7, the marque’s most successful car.