Owen Maddock

owen maddock.jpg (5692 bytes)Owen was born in 1925, he studied engineering at Kingston Technical College while serving with the Home Guard for the last years of the war. He was posted to Germany for another two years of National Service after the end of hostilities.

Owen was also a keen jazz musician, playing the sousaphone, clarinet and piano. For a while, he played with Mick Mulligan's Magnolia Jazz Band, with George Melly on vocals but left when the band went professional

In April 1948 he joined the Cooper Car Company, initially as a fitter and part time draughtsman but soon became chief designer. He was generally known by his workmates as "The Beard" and referred to by Charlie Cooper simply as "Whiskers". Owen is best remembered for the use of curved chassis tubes, initially on the Mk VIII. The story goes that Owen sketched out a number of new designs, each of which was rejected by Charlie. In frustration, he simply bent the tubes so that everything fitted and Charlie finally approved. While not strictly good practice, this solution worked well, giving a small, light chassis which matched the shape of the body and removed the need for additional supports. It cleared important mechanical parts and allowed simple welded joints to be used which were easier to make and stronger. It's an excellent example of practical engineering where small disadvantages are far outweighed by the advantages and was adopted across the Cooper range to great effect. This became a standing joke, reinforced when Owen's father drew up plans for Cooper's new factory which featured a distinctive curved frontage.

First test of the Cooper-Bristol with Charlie and John Cooper. Clearly very cold!

He left Cooper in 1963, having become intrigued by the concept of the hovercraft, but continued to freelance for the fledgling McLaren team. He went on to found the Hover Club of Great Britain, as well as designing racing hovercraft. He joined Elliott Turbo Machinery, for whom he designed ship bow-thrusters and pilot hoists did some freelance design commissions for March racing cars; For the last 20 years of his life, Owen lived quietly in Cowes.

Owen Maddock died in July 2000.

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