My love of motorsport is more a love of speed rather than racing, although it could be considered as a race against time. When I was a boy, John Cobb made a significant impression on me, it was the clever things about the man himself that so attracted me. Not only was he a great racer, but he held the lap record at Brooklands at over 143mph; how he ever got to an average of that speed on such a rough surface is simply amazing. The record, set in 1935, obviously stands in perpetuity since the track fell into disuse during the Second World War.
Cobb was clever; what he did with Reid Railton was to give him complete freedom when it came to the design of the record car. Railton, being an absolute genius, soon realized the problems associated with land speed record cars; they must either be front-wheel drive or four-wheel driven, otherwise the stability of the car is compromised. It was the design of the Railton’s Mobil Special car with which John Cobb set the Land Speed Record at 394.7 mph (635.2 kph) in 1947, and held for some 16 years, that I consider as one of the greatest cars. So much so, when Bamford’s asked me to get involved in the JCB Dieselmax project, I had no hesitation in taking Tim Leverton (the designer) to the Museum of Science and Industry, Birmingham, UK, to see Railton’s Mobil Special. Some of the design concepts for the JCB car were directly taken from the Railton car. What more of an accolade could I give than that?