George Abecassis is best known for his partnership with John Heath and the resulting Hersham and Walton Motors (HWM) concern. The garage business they formed is still in operation today but it was as a specialist manufacturer and team that its primary motor racing importance lays. Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and Paul Frère all made their GP debuts in an HWM.
Early racing career and World War II
Abecassis raced an Alta before World War II and won the Crystal Palace Cup and Imperial Trophy in 1938, adding the Imperial Plate a year later, all at the south London circuit. He flew with distinction in the Royal Air Force during the conflict – becoming a Squadron Leader and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after service that included flying British agents to occupied France.
Post-war career, Jaguar and HWM
Once peace had been restored to Europe, he returned to racing with ERA R2A and his Alta GP – crashing the latter during the early laps of the 1948 Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten. He was seventh in the following year’s British GP before building the first HWM in 1950, powered by a 2-litre Alta engine. He twice drove in World Championship GPs – retiring from the Swiss GPs of 1951 and 1952.
Abecassis also raced a works Aston Martin in sports cars and his DB2 finished fifth at Le Mans in 1950 and 1951. The 1953 Sebring 12 hours was the opening round of the new World Sportscar Championship and Abecassis shared the second-placed DB3 with Reg Parnell – just a lap behind the winning Cunningham at the finish.
HWM moved into endurance racing in 1954 with Jaguar power and Abecassis finished fourth on the road in the Tourist Trophy. He continued to race for another two seasons before business partner and friend Heath was killed during the 1956 Mille Miglia.
Once he married the daughter of Aston Martin’s Sir David Brown, Abecassis immediately stopped racing and withdrew HWM from the sport. He concentrated on running the road car dealership thereafter.