PEOPLE: WALTER HASSAN

Name: Walter Hassan
Nationality: Great Britain

The son of the owner of a clothes shop in Holloway in the North London, Hassan was born in 1905. His interest in engineer was sparked by an uncle who built model boats. He studied at the Northern Polytechnic and the Hackney Technical Institute of Engineering and then, while looking for work with Sunbeam in Cricklewood, saw a new building with Bentley Motors written on the outside. He applied for a job and became the company's 14th employee, working under the head of the experimental deparrtment Frank Clement. Hassan soon became involved in the Bentley racing programme and even took part a riding mechanic in some races. During the offseason Hassan worked for the Bentley service department, travelling around the country on a motorcycle to maintain piravtely-owned Bentleys. When Bentley was taken over by Rolls Royce Hassan left and went to work for Woolf Barnato, looking after his private collection of racing cars and building racing specials. In 1933 he began work on a car which would become known as the Barnato Hassan which was one of the fastest machines ever to lap brookslands. He also developed the the Pacey Hassan for Bill Pacey. This car enjoyed enormous success in British racing in 1936. That year Hassan left Barnato and went to work for ERA. His job was to develop the front suspension but after six months he was asked by Reid Railton to join Thomson and Taylor where he worked on John Cobb's land speed record car. In 1938 he moved on again to SS Cars (later to become Jaguar) and was appointed chief experimental engineer at Coventry. This was shortlived as when war broke out Hassan moved to Bristol to work for the Bristol Aero Engine Company. Later in the war he returned to SS Cars to develop lightweight cars and trailers to be used by airborne forces.

He stayed with Jaguar until the start of 1950 when he went to work for the Coventry Climax engine company in Widdington Road, Coventry. He started out designing industrial engines and forklift trucks and then the Home Office commissioned the design of a new fire pump which was designed by Harry Mundy. The motor racing world soon heard about the new Coventry engine and the company began an involvement in racing, mainly to advertise the company's engineering skills. Hassan helped develop the engine until Coventry Climax was taken over by Jaguar and he eventually became involved with William Heynes and Mundy in the design of a new Jaguar V12 engine, which went on to power the Le Mans-winning Jaguars in the late 1980s.

Hassan retired in 1971 and was awarded an OBE for his services to the sport.

He died in 1995

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