Engineering great Dr Alex Moulton dies aged 92

| 10 Dec 2012

Dr Alex Moulton, the brilliant engineer responsible for packaging the Mini’s suspension and founder of the Moulton Bicycle Company, has died at the age of 92.

Moulton was born into a firm of pioneers after his grandfather, Stephen Moulton, brought back the first samples of vulcanised rubber under licence from Charles Goodyear in the US.

The young Moulton had an instant fascination with engineering, building a steam-powered car as a boy.

During WW2 he served at the Bristol Aeroplane company working on sleeve-valve engines with Sir Roy Fedden. This partnership would lead to Moulton developing the rubber-in-torsion suspension system for the ill-fated Fedden car.

The failure didn’t put him off, though, and Moulton went on to establish his own research department.

Innovations such as Flexitor suspension (which was used in Austin’s Gipsy) and Rotoshear rubber discs, soon followed.

In 1956 Moulton joined BMC with Alec Issigonis (on the right), the pair initially working on a stillborn V8 Alvis.

He then set up Moulton Developments and set to work on a suspension system that would let a small car ride like a bigger one.

By 1959 Hydrolastic suspension had been invented and fitted to the 1100 and some Minis. Its evolution, Hydragas, would be fitted to the Metro and the MGF.  

Minis that were not fitted with Hydrolastic suspension benefited from another Moulton innovation – the cone spring. Hence, reference to 'wet' or 'dry' suspensions on Minis.

However, BMW’s buy-out of Mini and the MGF's replacement (the TF’s) use of coil springs consigned Moulton's suspension to the history books.

Even so his memory lives on in the 11 million cars fitted with his suspension units and in the nickname he made his own: RIP Mr Rebound.