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Claude Hill?


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#1 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 23:36

Hill was former Aston Martin chief designer, the man behind the "Atom", a former Aston Martin managing director, a former designer for the Ferguson, and a pioneer of four-wheel drive & was in the industry, and the sport from the 1930's up to the 1960's.

His career record is pretty well chronicled, but does anybody know any biographical information about the man - there appears very little for what is, in all essence, a key name in the history of car design?

The reason I ask, is, amongst the Indy mysteries or "not sures" I'm delving through, I also wanted to check this chap out.
Quite clearly, if he was designing the Atom in the late 30's, he clearly cannot be the man I have down as being born in 1931!!! He must now be dead, I would've thought.. maybe born around 1900-1905, perhaps?

Can anyone shed some light, so I/We may be able to find the "right" Claude Hill? Would there be an obituary in the Times anywhere? Thanks, again, in advance.

:confused: :confused:

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#2 David Birchall

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:10

Claude Hill joined Aston Martin in 1924 as draftsman and retired from Ferguson in 1971, presumably at age 65, which would indicate that he was born in 1906.... He might have stayed at Aston his whole working life had not David Brown, by 1948 the owner of Aston Martin, not decided to use the Bentley designed engine from Lagonda which Brown had also just acquired. Hill quit on principle.

#3 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 23:25

Thanks, David.

In fact, you weren't far off the mark with the birth year.

After searching, I found a link to back issues of numerous motorsport magazines, one of which lists an obituary for Claude Hill in their 1983 February edition.

So, after checking the GRO index, we/I have our man:

born: 16th Feb 1907 (probably Nottingham, but I'll confirm that) & died 3rd Qtr 1982 in Warwick District.

I've applied for a death certificate, so I'll confirm the dates & places for those who have any interest in the matter when it comes in next week.

#4 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 16:44

Richie, you must be a Genealogist! Did you use FreeBMD to find the references?

#5 Frank Verplanken

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 16:53

Hi Richie :wave:

Incidentally I just came across his obutuary in the MotorSport issue of... November 1982 :confused: . Weird to have two obituaries at fourth months intervals. This one, by J.T. Braithwaite, goes into some details on his life and has Sep. 12th, 1982 as DOD, aged 75. A jpg of the relevant page

#6 Geoff E

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 17:05

Originally posted by Robin Fairservice
Richie, you must be a Genealogist! Did you use FreeBMD to find the references?


FreeBMD shows two Claude HILLs for that quarter - the Nottingham one was not actually registered as Claude HILL until 1939. He had originally been registered as Claude SHAW in 1907.

The other one was born in Solihull District. This seems to be the more likely one.

#7 RobertE

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 18:31

Claude Hill was a clever chap and was at one stage involved with Stirling's Lotus 18/21 I think, after being part of the Ferguson AWD F1 effort. I've also driven a DB1 and it's not a bad car...

#8 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 19:29

Thanks Frank for the link & Geoff for the confirmation.

As mentioned before, I've sent off for the death certificate which will give me the precise places of birth & death - the obituary says Birmingham, but I will check the deathplace.

Yep, free BMD. I feel like a geneaologist with all this mystery solving - in some senses I am solving more family mysteries with these drivers, than the families themselves.

Frank, I'm not that surprised - even now, an obituary will appear for one person in, say, November & then another one in January, bizarre eh?

But again, many thanks for the help here. :up:

#9 Frank Verplanken

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 19:37

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins
Frank, I'm not that surprised - even now, an obituary will appear for one person in, say, November & then another one in January, bizarre eh?[/B]

Ah yes, sorry, I had read your post as "MotorSport magazines" and not "motorsport magazines" :).

#10 RobertE

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 10:07

I recall reading an interview with Claude Hill in a book called "The Power Behind Aston Martin" which came out in the 1970s. It was written by a bloke called Geoff Courtney who was an A-M factory PR bod.

#11 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:22

Just to confirm, after the certificate arrived today:

born: 16th Feb 1907, Birmingham d. 12th Sep 1982, Warwick, Warwickshire. He was living in Kenilworth, Warwicks until his death, which was due to peritonitis.

Thanks to all for their help. :up:


Edit - I was very tired when I typed this earlier & put Jan - it is February.