Classic Sports Car

CHRIS BARBER 1930-2021


Chris Barber OBE, consummate trombonist and bass player who led Britain’s best-known and best-loved jazz band for 70 years, died on 2 March.

A passionate car person, his band’s versions of Petite Fleur and Rock Island Line, the latter featuring Lonnie Donegan, funded a Lotus-climax MKIX and in 1959 he bought one of the first Elites, which he rolled at the Nürburgrin­g. When his touring schedule left little time for racing he continued his loyalty to Lotus as an entrant, running the likes of John Whitmore in the rebuilt Elite, an Elan 26R, a 47 and the littlereme­mbered Type 62. He favoured Lotus road cars, too, but his classic tastes ran to Lagondas and a pair of 1930s Lasalles.

His band played concerts after the British Grand Prix and Jim Clark was a big fan, as were Ken Tyrrell, Mike Hailwood and Wolfgang von Trips. The band played at Tyrrell’s memorial service.

Without Chris Barber popular music in Britain, and indeed in Europe, would have been infinitely the poorer.

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