The Moss accident

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Sir,

For the past 50 years I’ve lived with the thought that if only I’d had the temerity to speak up at the time, Stirling Moss’s accident at the 1962 Easter Goodwood meeting might somehow have been prevented. Employed back then with Sid Greene’s Gilby Engineering Co, before I’d established any reputation for myself, I predicted to Peter Ashcroft (Gilby Chief Mechanic/Team Manager) that SM’s pale green Lotus was a big accident just waiting to happen.

A couple of weeks prior to that weekend, Peter and I were converting the B-type Gilby to accept the BRM V8 engine, and we had cause to visit the North London workshop where the Lotus was being similarly converted to take a V8.

Quite honestly, I was horrified at the crudity of the modifications and the apparent complete lack of understanding of the principles of spaceframe technology. Obviously I don’t know for sure if these were the cause of the accident, but the modifications to the engine bay were such as to involve several stress-raisers which would have caused fatigue fractures in the tubing. As far as I’m concerned that is probably what happened; to me it was inevitable. Back then I said nothing except to Peter and my wife Iris as I felt that no one would accept the criticism of a nonentity such as myself. Nevertheless, even Iris, who had helped me build the Mk1 and Mk2 Terriers, fully understood the reasons for my concern.

In retrospect, I realise that I should at least have spoken to Colin Chapman about it, for it was his reputation that might suffer through no fault of his own. However, my relationship with ACBC at the time was not particularly cordial, so… I certainly never anticipated the magnitude of SM’s accident nor its terrible consequences.

How I wish one could turn back the clock, or the calendar — although I’m so thankful that Stirling managed to survive ‘the big one’.

Len Terry (Lotus, Eagle, BRM designer), Lincoln

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