RIP Peter Kirwan-Taylor 1930-2014

| 30 Apr 2014

Lotus stalwart and confidant of Colin Chapman, Peter Kirwan-Taylor, has died.

With his stepfather the chairman of Westland and Lagonda, Kirwan-Taylor was exposed to the world of automobiles from a tender age, with luminaries such as WO Bentley and 'Teddy' Petter, designer of the Lysander, Canberra and English Electric Lightning, regularly visiting the house. He would share his drawings with Petter during his visits, igniting a passion for design that would last a lifetime.

His desire to design his own car body, which stemmed from when he was 10-years-old, led him to Colin Chapman in the '50s. He used the spaceframe Lotus Mk6 as a basis for his first project, which doubled as a competition and road car.

Kirwan-Taylor Lotus Mk6

In addition to the Lotus Mk6, he also styled a GT body for a Swallow Doretti which he snapped up when the company went bust, having an aluminium rear end built by Peels of Kingston. He then penned a streamlined body for a Frazer Nash V8 Le Mans project, but it failed to race at La Sarthe due to the inexperience of the car's owner, Cambridge pal Peter Lumsden.

Kirwan-Taylor Swallow Doretti

Kirwan-Taylor Swallow Doretti

His early efforts stood him in good stead and after qualifying as an accountant his friend Chapman invited him to Lotus, where he became most famous for creating the look of the Elite.

As well as his flair for design, it was in his capacity as an accountant that he made his most lasting impression on the firm, turning around Lotus' profits and leading its floatation on the Stock Exchange in 1968.

In later years the ex-Lotus director would become a merchant banker, running a practice based in Hong Kong.