HE­ROES: Alan Mann

Team owner, Alan Mann was never one to shout about his achieve­ments - he didn't need to when those red-and-gold Fords took to the track and scooped up all tro­phies.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Gra­ham Rob­son Words Pho­to­graphic Ford Pho­tos

Race team owner and builder extraordinaire who helped Fords rule the track in the 1960s.

From 1963 to 1969, Alan Mann ran one of the most suc­cess­ful rac­ing teams in the UK, which set new stan­dards ex­cept for the very few top F1 teams who had a lot more money to spend. Whether it was with Lo­tus Corti­nas, Fal­cons, Mus­tangs or Es­corts his com­pany, Alan Mann Rac­ing, al­ways pro­duced the most im­mac­u­late, com­pet­i­tive, and usu­ally re­li­able, ma­chin­ery.

he was not go­ing to be a mil­lion­aire in this ven­ture ei­ther, so moved on to re­vi­talise a Ford deal­er­ship near Brighton, and set up Alan An­drews Rac­ing in 1962. His first ef­forts were with Anglias and Zo­di­acs which were pre­pared un­der Howard Mars­den’s su­per­vi­sion, which he drove him­self, al­ways ad­mit­ting to his lim­i­ta­tions.

Ford on­board

Then in 1963, and never short of well-founded op­ti­mism about his po­ten­tial, he ap­proached Ford’s then com­pe­ti­tions man­ager, Syd Hen­son, asked for help with run­ning a new Lo­tus Cortina race car, dis­cov­ered that these were still in very short sup­ply, and fi­nally went ahead with a Cortina GT for Jimmy Blumer to drive in the Bri­tish Sa­loon Car Cham­pi­onship. At the end of the sea­son, this was one of the cars which Ford then flew over to Marl­boro in Mary­land, USA, for a long-dis­tance sa­loon car race, and it was this out­ing which en­deared him to Ford’s Wal­ter Hayes, who gave him the job of rac­ing works­fi­nanced Lo­tus Corti­nas in Europe dur­ing 1964. The newly-formed Alan Mann Rac­ing, which even­tu­ally adopted that splen­did colour scheme of run­ning lus­trous red cars with golden roof pan­els, im­me­di­ately be­gan win­ning en­durance races where other Lo­tus Cortina en­trants were en­coun­ter­ing me­chan­i­cal break­downs.

Al­though Alan was an ever-present at the races, his cars not only be­ing im­mac­u­lately pre­sented, but ef­fi­ciently run, he could al­most seem to be in­vis­i­ble at some of the events — for one rarely saw him wav­ing his arms around, and he never seemed to raise his voice — yet his team was al­ways amaz­ingly ef­fec­tive. Op­er­at­ing from Byfleet, in mod­est premises, which had the sort of su­per­skilled me­chan­ics who seemed able to turn out­wardly or­di­nary Fords into win­ners, this maybe ex­plains why the Monte Fal­cons of 1964 and the Mus­tangs which dom­i­nated the Tour de France of that year were so suc­cess­ful.

And as if he was not al­ready busy enough with his race-win­ning Lo­tus Corti­nas, his busi­ness also went on to man­age the pres­ti­gious and high­pro­file team of Ford-en­gined AC Co­bras which won the World Sports Car Cham­pi­onship in 1965, and he was also tasked with build­ing some of the light­est and best GT40 de­vel­op­ment cars in rac­ing.

Red and gold

He cam­paigned Lo­tus Corti­nas ex­tremely suc­cess­fully from 1964 to 1968, and these were the ma­chines which made his op­er­a­tion so en­dur­ingly fa­mous in the sport. Start­ing with cars liv­er­ied in the stan­dard white-with-green side flashes, he em­ployed mainly John Whit­more, Henry Tay­lor and Peter Proc­ter to cut a swathe through the op­po­si­tion in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship — this in­cluded six out­right vic­to­ries, and in 1965 he went even bet­ter by pro­vid­ing Whit­more with one brand-new Lo­tus Cortina — KPU 392C — in which he scored another six out­right wins, and won the en­tire Euro­pean Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship.

Later he ad­mit­ted that he re-liv­er­ied his cars so that he could pick them out from the rest of the Lo­tus Cortina fleet as they hur­tled past the pits in the early stages of a race !

Ob­servers of­ten won­dered how he could keep so many pro­grammes go­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously and suc­cess­fully, for he al­ways seemed so calm about what was go­ing on. In that sin­gle year of 1965, as an ex­am­ple, he had the Lo­tus Cortina win­ning all over Europe, a very com­pet­i­tive Mus­tang out in the same se­ries, and Day­tona Co­bras com­pet­ing in eight World Sports Car events (a se­ries which the team won, beat­ing the might of Fer­rari), all the time work­ing on the de­vel­op­ment of light­weight Ford GT40s, and on the trans­for­ma­tion of ex-Monte Fal­cons into Bri­tish sa­loon car rac­ers.

Twin Cam time

Af­ter this, he was in­vited to run works-fi­nanced Es­cort Twin Cams, both in Bri­tain, and in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships, in 1968 and 1969. These rapidly be­came the world’s best Es­cort Twin Cam rac­ers, es­pe­cially af­ter much of the en­gi­neer­ing and new-de­sign work had been car­ried out for him by Len Bai­ley, who had an of­fice at his work­shops in Byfleet. It helped, of course, that Alan had a di­rect line to Wal­ter Hayes, so when he sug­gested that the Es­cort might work well with the rare-as-hen’s-teeth Cosworth FVA en­gine in­stalled, a sup­ply rapidly be­came avail­able.

It was on Alan’s be­half that Len Bai­ley was mainly re­spon­si­ble for the de­sign of the sleek and lovely F3L rac­ing sports car of 1968 , which was the world’s first two-seater to use the Cosworth DFV F1 en­gine. This car looked gor­geous, but was not a suc­cess, which was hardly Alan’s


fault for, at the time, he made the point that AMR was orig­i­nally only al­lo­cated two of the pre­cious DFV en­gines for the two F3L cars, and that they never did get a spare en­gine through­out an un­suc­cess­ful 1968 sea­son.

This, of course, only tells part of the story about Alan Mann, and his Alan Mann Rac­ing team’s in­tense ac­tiv­i­ties, for in a mere seven years they would be in­volved — al­ways by ac­cept­ing com­mis­sions rather than by go­ing out to look for work — in a myr­iad of projects, some of which were very def­i­nitely kept un­der wraps at the time.

In 1964, for ex­am­ple, his team tack­led the Monte Carlo rally and other events in Ford Fal­cons, so nearly win­ning the Monte where a pre­vi­ous ef­fort by another team had car­ried out a sham­bolic ef­fort in 1963 (in 1964 Bo Lungfeldt’s car was fastest, but lost out to Paddy Hop­kirk’s Mini Cooper S on hand­i­cap), he dab­bled with 7-litre Ford Gal­ax­ies where Hol­man & Moody had al­ready done much of the en­gi­neer­ing, and later in the year he picked up the to­tally un­proven Mus­tang (which had only just been an­nounced), en­tered three cars for the gru­elling, 10-day, Tour de France, and saw them take first and sec­ond over­all.

In the years which fol­lowed he be­came in­volved in the Bri­tish film in­dus­try, though he never shouted about it. It was Wal­ter Hayes who acted as his in­tro­duc­tory agent, by first of all hav­ing him meet Cubby Broc­coli, then Ian Flem­ing (of James Bond fame), this soon lead­ing to AMR be­ing asked to pro­duce four ex­am­ples of Ford-based Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cars. At al­most the same time Alan was also in­vited to do work con­nected with the film cars for the film Grand Prix, though he later com­plained that he had never been paid for this job.

Among other Ford-based projects was to build fu­tur­is­tic road cars for the UFO TV se­ries, where the cars were Cortina-based un­der the skin, but sounded like gas-tur­bine pow­ered ma­chines, and which fea­tured lift-up gull-wing doors which the pro­duc­ers had de­manded, though Mann al­ways com­plained that there was not enough in the bud­get to make them counter-bal­anced.

His be­hind-the-scenes work for Ford En­gi­neer­ing to rec­tify the short-com­ings of the Zo­diac in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion was more suc­cess­ful, but was killed off by a lack of in­vest­ment cap­i­tal — at least, he later said, the Granada which fol­lowed was a much bet­ter car.

Mov­ing up

Un­hap­pily, in the late 1960s Mann did not seem to get on with Ford’s new boss, Stu­art Turner, so at the end of 1969 his con­tracts with the com­pany were not re­newed.

This was the point at which he de­cided that AMR should be closed down (Frank Gard­ner took over the premises and some of the work­force), and Mann moved on to the next part of his life, which was to run a heli­copter leas­ing busi­ness. Later he also pur­chased Fairoaks air­field, near Lon­don, and ex­panded his aero­space in­ter­ests, though by the 2000s he had been re­united with some of the cars that made him fa­mous — and even bought back one or two of them, re­stored them, and set them to race once again.

Al­though Alan died, far too young, in 2012, his sons then car­ried on the fam­ily in­volve­ment in his most fa­mous projects, and those mag­nif­i­cent red-and-gold ma­chines can still be seen at ma­jor clas­sic events such as the Good­wood Re­vival meet­ing.

One fi­nal com­ment, too, is that some­one once said of the Bri­tish Sa­loon Car Cham­pi­onship: ‘If you want ex­cite­ment in the pit lane, you need Ralph Broad — but if you need re­sults, go to Alan Mann’, which sums him up com­pletely.


The fa­mous Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship win­ning Lo­tus Cortina of 1965 .

A mass of Fal­cons be­ing pre­pared un­der Alan Mann’s su­per­vi­sion for the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally.

Alan Mann (left) and John Whit­more cel­e­brate yet another AMR-in­spired suc­cess.

Alan Mann, John Whit­more and Gra­ham Hill test­ing GT40s at Good­wood.

The AMR-de­signed Ford F3L must have been of the moist beau­ti­ful rac­ing cars ever de­signed.

This was AMR’s com­plex F3L, as launched in 1968.

What a fa­mous com­bi­na­tion — Frank Gard­ner, the Es­cort XOO 349F, and AMR-prepa­ra­tion, dom­i­nated sa­loon car rac­ing in 1968.

What a fa­mous com­bi­na­tion — Frank Gard­ner, the Es­cort XOO 349F, and AMR-prepa­ra­tion, dom­i­nated sa­loon car rac­ing in 1968.

Frank Gard­ner on his way to win­ning the 1967 Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship in the AMR Ford Fal­con Sprint.

Alan Mann was a great team leader for the driv­ers of the cars he pre­pared. He is seen here (sec­ond from right) at the 1964 Spa 24 hours, in dis­cus­sion with Tony Heg­bourne, Frank Gard­ner, Peter Harper in dark glasses, and John Whit­more.

John Whit­more at high speed at Snet­ter­ton, 1965, in one of the fa­mous AMR-pre­pared Lo­tus Corti­nas.

John Whit­more used the Alan Mann Cortina KPU 392C to win the Euro­pean Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­ons hip in 1965.

Alan Mann Rac­ing-pre­pared Mus­tangs on their way to win­ning the Tour de France in 1964.

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