January 10th 2001
courtesy and copyright of Autocar
How very sad to lose both John Cooper and Walter Hayes around Christmas (see obituaries in this issue). Both were giants of postwar motoring, but you wouldn’t necessarily have known it to talk to them. Each had the ability (which grows rarer) to recount fascinating tales from the past with the vividness and fresh wit that made you feel you are the first person to have heard them.
John Cooper pioneered the modern mid-engined racing car by taking the whole thing back to first principles and thinking again. Hayes was instrumental in resuscitating Ford in Europe, sparked the company’s 60s “golden age”, inspired Cosworth to build the all-conquering DFV Grand Prix V8, and set up the remarkably fruitful co-operation with Lotus. He also hatched the early 90s plan which saved Aston Martin and produced the DB7, a car whose sales continue to rise. Strikes me that each of these men, much admired in motoring, deserved far greater recognition by the wider British public. Knighthoods would have been appropriate. But the gong givers were too late.
Before his great days at Ford, Walter Hayes was a journalist and a Fleet Street editor. So it’s fitting that one of his most recent achievements should have been journalistic: he edited a new magazine called “Aston”, journal of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust, an organisation very close to his heart. The magazine is one of the best, freshest and most interesting new car magazines I’ve seen for years. Not sure how you can get it, but a good place to start is undoubtedly the trust website: amht.org.uk.