Category Archives: sports cars

Geoffrey Taylor’s Legacy – the Alta Motor Company

The Alta Motor Company was founded by Geoffrey Taylor in Surbiton, Surrey. In 1929, the company released its first working automobile model. This particular model had a 1.1-liter engine that was constructed wholly of aluminum, making it a very light yet sturdy engine build. It also featured DOHC (dual overhead cams) technology that had its own drive shaft, making it one of the best-performing engines during its time. With the addition of aspirators and superchargers, Alta engines became the most powerful and were even in highest demand for a time.
Alta designs its vehicles for racing. In a short time, they were already using their cars on the racetrack. The name became easily associated with racing and was even famous for models that were designed for off-road racing and uphill driving. A second wheel could even be fitted on the rear axle in some models, making the Alta sports car a very versatile and much desired make.

The remarkable thing about the Alta make is that their sports cars were also street legal. This meant that even an ordinary driver can drive an Alta to and from work without getting pulled over for driving an excessively powerful vehicle. By 1934, however, Alta concentrated more on building cars that were meant for track racing and thus, purely for competition. These later models were used for a lot more application races, such as sprints, time trials, and endurance races.

Alta diverted its production from sports cars to war vehicles during the war. This was their contribution to the war effort. When the war came to an end, Alta became the first British car manufacturer to come up with a Grand Prix car. This particular race car made its debut in 1948. This was done by Alta as an exploration into the Grand Prix circuit, with them returning to the production of road vehicles for the average consumers.

Eventually, Alta ventured into the world of Formula One racing. They would have performed well had they had sufficient capital to fund their venture. This prompted Alta to settle instead with racing in the Formula Two circuit, entering a car featuring a 1,970 cc, four-cylinder engine. To the surprise of the Alta engineering department, the car became highly tunable, giving it more flexibility and versatility; in turn, giving Alta a lot of wins in the circuit.

Geoffrey Taylor died in 1966. His son, Michael Taylor, took over the reins of the company. He attempted to revive Alta by building a Formula Ford vehicle, which was, unfortunately, unsuccessful. This was the final straw that closed down the company.