PEOPLE: GEOFFREY TAYLOR
Name: Geoffrey Taylor
Nationality: Great Britain
Geoffrey Taylor was born in 1903 and began building racing cars in 1928 in the stables at his family house. He decided to call these specials "Alta" which was a contraction of Alberta. The cars were run quite successfully in the 1930s in British national events with a variety of drivers, notably Peter Whitehead who gave Alta its first real success in 1935 when he finished third in the Limerick Grand Prix. By the time war broke out in 1939 Alta was winning races.
After the war, Taylor planned a Grand Prix car. It took him three years to build but it appeared for the first time in 1948 with John Heath driving in the Swiss Grand Prix. In 1949 Heath won the Manx Cup at Douglas and Abecassis finished seventh at the British GP while newcomer Geoffrey Crossley also did well to finish seventh in the Belgian GP. In the immediate post-war era the company dallied with road car production but made only a very limited number of road-going saloons before concentrating on racing again.
For the 1950 season there were three Alta F1 cars racing and the firm supplied engines to the HWM team as well. That year Joe Kelly ran one car and finished second in the Wakefield Trophy at the Curragh track. Crossley continued his occasional Grand Prix appearances, while Stirling Moss in the HWM-Alta gave the company some much-needed exposure with third place at Bari. In Formula 2 races Johnny Claes won the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay for HWM while Stirling Moss drove one of the cars to second place at Mettet.
Kelly continued to race the Alta GP car in 1951 and the company built several F2 cars although these were outshone by others with HWM-Altas again scoring good results aboard and victories in minor races at home. In the Madgwick Cup at Goodwood and in the F2 race at Winfield HWM-Altas finished 1-2-3.
Joe Kelly's persistence with the Alta GP car paid off in 1952 with third place in the Ulster Trophy at Dundrod while the HWM-Altas continued to do well in F2 with Lance Macklin winning the International Trophy and Paul Frere winning at Chimay. While the Alta F2 cars disappeared there were more engine customers with Coopers, HWMs and Emerysons all running with the engines. There were a number of placings that year but the only important win was Moss's victory in the London Trophy at Crystal Palace in a Cooper-Alta.
With a new engine formula in 1954 there was increased competition with engines from Bristol and Lea-Francis but in 1955 Alta did a deal with Connaught Engineering. There were few results although in 1956 things were better with Les Leston finishing third in the Goodwood Trophy and Archie Scott-Brown and Desmond Titterington coming home second and third in the International Trophy. Jack Fairman drove one of the cars to fourth in the British GP and at the Italian GP Ron Flockhart finished third. At the end of the year Scott-Brown and Stuart Lewis-Evans gave the Connaught-Altas a 1-2 finish in a race at Brands Hatch. There were a few good results with the same combination in 1957 with Lewis-Evans winning the Glover Trophy at Goodwood and Ivor Bueb finishing third at Pau. Lewis-Evans also did well at Monaco where he finished fourth.
Connaught was taken over in 1958 by Bernie Ecclestone but the result was only a few minor placings and although old Connaught-Altas continued to appear until the end of 1960, Taylor's involvement in top level racing was over.
The Alta Car & Engineering Company was closed down. Taylor died in 1966 but his son Michael reformed the company in Epsom in 1976. Sadly it was not a success.