Len Terry has died at the age of 91. Born in Birmingham in 1923, Terry grew up in London, leaving school at the age of 14. Initially he worked as an office boy for a theatre producer, but the war changed the course of his life when he joined the Royal Air Force becoming an instrument maker specialising in cameras that were used for aerial photography. Later he would be transferred to Karachi in pre-Partition India before being demobilised and moving to a job as a trainee draughtsman with the Ever Ready battery company in Walthamstow.
He would work as a draughtsman in various different industries in the years that followed, notably working with Professor Denis Melrose on the design of a heart-lung machine that was first used in 1957, enabling surgeons to start doing open heart surgery. At the same time he started racing in the highly-competitive 750 Motor Club world and joined forced with rivals Maurice Philippe and Brian Hart to build a Formula Junior car in the mid 1950s called the Delta. This was followed by another Formula Junior called the Moorland before Terry began to build his own Terrier cars in 1957, doing the work in the from room of his home and driving the cars himself. He then joined Lotus but he soon fell out with Colin Chapman over the Terriers. It did not help that he crashed and broke his leg. The Terriers did well in Formula Junior in 1960 with Hart driving. Terry moved to Gilby, designing first a sports car and then in 1960 an F1 car for Gilby’s Sid Green. He was then convinced to return to Lotus and became Colin Chapman’s design engineer, translating his ideas into designs and making them work. In this role he played a key part in the design if the Lotus 25 and 33 models. This was followed by the Lotus 38 with which Jim Clark won the Indy 500. He was later lured away to join Dan Gurney’s Eagle cars for F1 and Indianapolis and ultimately designed the 1968 BRM. He went on to design a BMW Formula 2 car but the project was cancelled after the death of Gerhard Mitter. At the same time he penned the Leda Formula 5000 car which would ultimately become a Surtees with much success in Britain and America. Later he would attempt a come back with the Viking F3 project and with BRM. He then returned to contract design work until his retirement.