CONSTRUCTORS: ALTA CAR & ENGINEERING CO
Name: Alta Car & Engineering Co
Geoffrey Taylor was extraordinary in what he achieved with very small budgets, building not only chassis, but also engine and gearboxes. He began building cars in 1928 in the stables of his father's home. The name was a contraction of Alberta - which Taylor liked the sound of. The cars were run in a variety of national events in the 1920s and 1930s with he first notable success being the 1935 Formula Libre Limerick GP in which Peter Whitehead finished third. There were other successes, notably at Crystal Palace where George Abecassis finished second in a couple of sportscar races in 1938 and won the 1939 Imperial Trophy Formula Libre race.
It was not until after the war that Taylor began to plan a Grand Prix challenger. It took three years to complete the first car which made its debut at the Swiss GP in 1948 with driver John Heath, lasting just seven laps. 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.