PEOPLE: LEN BAILEY

Name: Len Bailey
Nationality: Great Britain

Bailey joined the British Motor Corporation at Longbridge as an apprentice at the age of 16. He later worked with Daimler in Coventry and then with Rover before returning to BMC itself in the engine department. In 1955 however he emigrated to the United States of America and joined the research department of American Motors and was soon working on the design of the company's first V8 engine. He also began working on chassis design at this time and when a better offer came from Ford in 1958 he went to Dearborn with the plan being to work in the company's advanced engine department but an old friend from BMC days met him and he was "hijacked" and became a member of the Experimental Department instead. His initial work was on the development of turbine cars but he then moved on to the design team of the prototype Mustang. He was then picked to go to Britain as part of the design team for the Ford GT40 sportscar with the newly-established Ford Special Vehicle Operations department in Slough. This operation was latter taken over by its boss John Wyer and JW Automotive was established. Bailey was taken on to design the Gulf Mirage M1 but in the years that followed he decided that he was best suited to life as a freelance designer but worked with Ford on the P68 and P69 projects and on the GT70 rally car and became involved in single-seaters, helping Frank Gardner with the Tasman Series Mildren-Alfa Romeo car. He worked with Gardner to develop the TransAm Mustang for the British Saloon car championship and then helepd to develop the Ford Escort for rallying. In 1970 Bailey set up his own design office at Gomm Metal Developments in Woking and in the years that followed he designed the Mirage M6 sportscar for Wyer and in 1971 designed his first Grand Prix car for Frank Williams. The Politoys-Cosworth FX3 was badly underfunded and never achieved what it might have done. Bailey continued to do consultancy work throughout the 1970s which included a Theodore F1 prototype which later became a Magnum F3 car in 1981.

Print