A tribute to Ted - architect of Aston's finest 24 hours


Author: James ElliottPublished:

While the classic world was mourning the loss of Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori so close to each other, and rightly so, it was a shame that this double whammy somewhat overshadowed the passing of a third, equally crucial member of Aston Martin's 1959 Le Mans-winning team.

It was some relief that I noticed that Aston itself, thankfully, had the good grace and the good sense to acknowledge this "backroom boy" when it turned this year's 24 Hour race into a tribute to the recently deceased.

The third man, of course, was EJ 'Ted' Cutting.

He was so important because the DBR1 that grasped victory was his car. Not his in the way that vast regiments of workers churn out moderns only for one person to get the credit, but his in the sense that he pretty much built the bloody thing from the ground up.

It is hard to imagine anyone doing that now. In fact, it was pretty unusual outside of the world of specials even 50-odd years ago, but Cutting had such a broad range of skills and such vision that it was just grist to the mill for him. He was a type of man that doesn't seem to exist any more.

London-born Cutting had joined Aston Martin a decade earlier - from Allard – and, having been given the brief to build a world-beating sports racer by new owner David Brown, the DBR1 was the result.

And what a car it was, a real clean-sheet-of-paper effort that carried over virtually nothing from its predecessors.

Its success was phenomenal, and though further efforts were never rewarded with similar trophy hauls, Ted could also claim the credit for the subsequent DBR cars (including the DBR4, above) as well as the sensational Project cars.

After a sojourn elsewhere in the motor industry Cutting moved to Ford before settling into a life of consultancy and watching the world clamour for what he had built.

Just imagine inspecting a car that you were so involved in that even a misplaced rivet would ring alarm bells!

So, belatedly, farewell Ted Cutting: designer and builder, stylist and engineer, artist and artisan, dreamer and doer.

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