Car design supremo Harris Mann reveals the genius behind some of his favourite Austins

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Italian designs weren’t modern enough – what worked in the Sixties wasn’t appropriate in the Seventies. As a result our proposals were chosen. It made me realise how much I valued working with Roy’


WHY I LOVE... ...memories of working with Roy Haynes producing some of Britain’s best-known cars. Roy’s great strength was being able to visualise all the products, says Harris Mann

Harris Mann and Roy Haynes’ work included the Mini Clubman and the Morris Marina


I loved my time working for designer Roy Haynes,’ reflects Harris Mann thoughtfully. ‘He had a logical mind and he helped me considerably during my career.’

It all began after Harris joined Ford UK in 1962. Many designers came from Detroit to work in Ford UK’s design department and infused new styling themes into the team. ‘They helped me in absorbing cutting edge ideas,’ he says. In 1967, the company became Ford of Europe and the first new car launched was the Escort, which Harris had worked on along with the Capri and the Transit van. ‘By then I was working directly for Roy, who was Ford’s model line director. I was always asking, “Why did you do that?” It was my way of learning.’ In 1968, Roy Haynes left Ford to join BMC as director of styling based in Cowley. ‘I quickly realised that very soon all the cars manufactured within BMC would need re-designing and the prospect sounded exciting. I left Ford and joined Roy just as major changes were about to be made.’

Significantly, under a government programme, BMC, Jaguar and Triumph united under the group title, British Leyland, later just BL. Roy and Harris worked together on designing the new Mini Clubman and Morris Marina.

‘Roy’s forte was his ability to visualise all the products – Austin, Morris, Wolseley, Riley, Triumph, Jaguar and so on, and produce a comprehensive plan that encompassed a range of cars based on a number of common chassis platforms. It was totally logical. There was to be an ‘A’ type chassis/body unit, a ‘B’ type and so on with common drivetrains, parts and production processes. The base structure to each range would be identical, so it was only necessary to create new outer panels for each model. He produced small flow chart drawings to illustrate how the process worked.’

But Roy came up against Harry Webster and Spen King, who were principally engineers, causing a conflict of views. Sadly, Haynes and Webster clashed and as a result Roy Haynes resigned. However, worse was to come. Webster was still using Michelotti to produce model proposals. ‘This was a challenge. We’d be working on a new design and Harry Webster would ship a package out to Michelotti for him to develop an equivalent model. Then the finished prototypes would come together for comparison and selection. But the Italian designs weren’t modern enough – what worked in the Sixties wasn’t appropriate for the Seventies. As a result our proposals were always chosen. It made me realise how much I valued working with Roy.’


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