Ray Martin


Ray Martin was born in Switzerland and came to England prior to the outbreak of war. He worked for Alvis and De Havilland during the conflict and became an accomplished and pragmatic engineer. After the war he turned to his other hobby, as a jazz musician, and worked in various London clubs but his career never took off so he quit and set up a garage business of his own close to Victoria Station, later moving to Mitcham.

Ray's specialty was the design of independent suspension and he contributed to a number of racing specials including projects for Jaguar.

Ray was one of the key collaborators on the Kieft CK51 design for Stirling Moss, along with Dean Delamont and  John A Cooper, the first car being built at Ray's workshop, and went with Stirling to many of the races. He also converted a J.B.S. to swing axle suspension for Les Leston and developed the Formula 2 Cooper-Alta for Moss towards the end of 1952 and into 1953.

Ray looks very pleased with his work after Moss takes victory on the Kieft's first outing, Goodwood May 1951.

Moss talking to Briggs Cunningham in the paddock of the Grand Prix meeting 14th July 1951. Cyril Kieft looks on while Ray is holding the engine cover. Photo courtesy of Paul Skilleter.

In 1953, Martin commenced building cars under his own name. There are some common features with the Kieft, in particular the rear suspension which was of swing axle type in which the springs played no part in roll stiffness, this being provided by the geometry and the significant negative camber at the rear. The Martins were noticeably lighter and narrower than the Kieft and Ray continued to develop his ideas. Later cars feature another different suspension arrangement with oleo pneumatic spring/shocks which could be pumped up or let down to increase/decrease the spring rate/ camber. Approximately 10 cars were made. Ray Martin died in 1958.

Fettling at the Victoria garage

The Martin of Roy Hunt

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In the pits during the 2005 Goodwood Revival

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A Martin pits for fuel during the Silverstone 100 Mile Race in September 1955. Photo by Ian Frost.

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Charlie Headland used a modified car, christened the Martin Headland from mid 1953 through to 1955.

Ray in one of his later cars, outside his Merton workshop. Photo courtesy Simon Frost