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tony southgate autobiography


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#1 mariner

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 12:09

Maybe this post should be in the books section but anyway..

I have just finished reading Tony Southgate's autobiography and whilst I have no connection with the author or publisher I would fully recommend it.

If you want lots of technical stuff it is not for you but it is a 40 year journey in race car design because Tony Southgate is the only person I can think of ( aside from Dallera) who continously designed racecars from 1961 to 2000. He started in the days of wooden drawing boards in a corner of the workshop ansd ended with the Audi works Le Mans winning team in the new era of carbon fibre, shaker rigs and aero obsession. Although he would probably not claim to be a radical designer like Chapman he was responsible for GP winnnig F1 cars, an Indy 500 wnner and several Le Mans winners so he is a very successful designer.

He helped Eric Broadley design the Lola GT which was, of course , the precursor of the Ford GT40. They had to cut the wheel arches to get enough lock to drive it out of the workshop and the chief Mechanic sat with his tools in the passenger seat while they drove it to Le Mans(!). Nonetheless it was the start of all the "scientific" rear engined GT/big engine sportscars.

In contrast by the end he had all the vast resources of the VAG/Audi group to use, he tried to persuade the Directors they didn' t need a LM coupe as well as an open car but they had some much money they told him to do one anyway!

I suspect that few modern designers will ever be able to design for so long and have such an overall view of racecar design.

What is really striking is that he used the Imperial wind tunnel ( birthplace of the Lotus 78/79 and all ground effects) for 30 years - amazing that aero is now that old!

Anyway the ISBN is 978-1-899870-82-0 and it is interesting how a designer from the bent alloy chassis and square steel tube era constantly kept himself up to date right into GE, CAD and CF chassis' etc.

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#2 IrishMariner

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 15:51

Thanks for bringing the book to my/our attention. I think if Mr. Southgate had done nothing other than the TWR Jaguar XJR's from '85 onwards, his story would still be an interesting one.

Is there much in the book about the Jags?

#3 mariner

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 17:20

Yes, a lot about the Jags and you can see the design progression of Group C/LM proto as he moved from TWR/Jag to Toyota to TWR/Nissan to Ferrari to Audi.

A design study he worked up for TWR in 1999 clearly shows the ultra low body with raised and tapered wheelpods that has become a sort of LM proto norm - basically improving flow to the rear wing whilst keeping down CdA was the design driver.

BTW I loved the group C cars because they allowed so many things - turbos, enclosed bodies, venturi's and had to last 24 hours, IMHO more interesting then F1 cars in some ways.

#4 Tony Matthews

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 17:24

BTW I loved the group C cars because they allowed so many things - turbos, enclosed bodies, venturi's and had to last 24 hours, IMHO more interesting then F1 cars in some ways.

In many ways, I think, and much more fun to draw as there was more of them, you could fill a page!

#5 IrishMariner

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 20:35

Jeez, I'd forgotten he did the gorgeous 1992 Toyota Grp C car. What a stunner that thing was.

#6 zac510

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 16:36

Thanks for bringing the book to my/our attention. I think if Mr. Southgate had done nothing other than the TWR Jaguar XJR's from '85 onwards, his story would still be an interesting one.

Is there much in the book about the Jags?


Me too, I wasn't aware of it either :)

One I would very much like to read.

#7 Duc-Man

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 11:05

Quiet interessting. I know he worked for BRM, Shadow, Toyota and Ferrari.
Can you give us a list of the contents?

#8 Suzy

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 23:20

I had the pleasure of spending today enjoying a talk by Tony Southgate at Silverstone where he discussed his career. I know this sounds gushing but what an amazing career it is. I'm only 34 but have a passion for all cars of all eras. In fact, I found myself looking at the pictures he provided (lots from his archive) and thinking "Wow! He did that one too!!!". The people he worked with, the drivers he had, the mechanics, the cars, the designs, the engines... I am so full of admiration for the amount of work he did and for so many different teams and people. And some of the people he worked with went onto great things too.

During this talk - which lasted THREE HOURS (without any notes or a script!) - he discussed BRM, Lola, Shadow, Toyota, Ferrari, Arrows, various CanAm cars, Indycars, the Ford RS200 Group rally car, some work with Nissan and Ford, the Audi R8C... the list is endless. He also had a lot of delightful anecdotes and I learned so much today. Cars that I thought I knew - or recognised from pictures - have been given a new lease of life for me as I have learned about the history of each one from the man who designed them! And there is nothing like personal involvement to really bring the past to life (especially the past that was before I was born).

Oh, and the autobiography is fantastic too.

#9 Paolo

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 12:28

Ordered the book...

#10 zac510

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:05

I too ordered the book on the back of this thread and have been reading it casually for a week or so. Really enjoying the easygoing writing style and good balance of technical anecdotes and racing history. There is a lot I didn't know about his early career (I'm young!). Last night I was even reading about something we have talked about on this forum: the Lotus chassis rig!