By: Jonathan Wood, foreword by Karl Ludvigsen, ISBN: 9781780910970, paperback, 2005
THE COLLAPSE in 2005 of MG Rover marked the end of Britain's indigenous motor industry as a volume car manufacturer.
Yet back in the 1960s its Longbridge-based British Motor Corporation predecessor dominated the market with the iconic Mini and stylish 1100. Both were the work, together with the legendary Morris Minor, of Sir Alec Issigonis, CBE, FRS, the British motor industry's most influential and controversial engineer.
In this full-length biography, published to commemorate the centenary of its subject's birth, which falls in 2006, award-winning motoring historian Jonathan Wood chronicles the rise and fall of Issigonis, born in Turkey of Greek/Bavarian parentage, who arrived in Britain as a near-penniless refugee and became the most powerful automobile engineer in the land. His ingenious and effective designs had a deep, lasting influence on the evolution of the motor car and on the wider history of industrial design, and he deserves to be ranked with the other giants of the field like Ferdinand Porsche in Germany and Dante Giacosa in Italy.
Wood's candid and meticulously researched account, which exposes Sir Alec's public and private faces, and is the product of some 30 years of research, is complemented by interviews conducted with many of Issigonis's former colleagues and friends, including: Ronald Barker, John Cooper, Jack Daniels, Christopher Dowson, Paddy Hopkirk, Spen King, Dr Alex Moulton, Dr Bernd Pischetsrieder, Lord Snowdon and Stuart Turner. The finished volume is a balanced view of a remarkable, immensely talented man, with a behind-the-scenes impression of the personal and corporate struggles within the declining British car industry, a complex process in which Issigonis played a famous role.