Peter Grimsdale's 'High Performance' Book Celebration - Review

To view images from the event click here

For an evening the Club celebrated the golden era of British automobiles, with the celebration of the launch of Peter Grimsdale’s ‘High Performance – When Britain Ruled the Roads’. Peter’s book highlights the motors and mavericks who dreamt them up, and is much about the personalities as the pistons they helped to craft.
Guests were treated to champagne and canapes before settling down to listen to Jonathan Dimbleby interview Peter onstage.

‘Cars Are An Iconography of our Past’

During the interview Peter talked about his fascination with the post-war years for British automobiles. His motivation to write the book partly came from the fact that he felt this era of home-grown engineering brilliance has almost been forgotten, and it was his aim to revive it.

Peter continually referred to the four ‘heroes’ which he covers in his book. They include the Jaguar Founder Sir William Lyons, the founder a co-founder of the Cooper Car Company, John Cooper, the famous Anglo-Greek designer and designer of the MINI Alec Issigonis, and Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus.

Peter remarked that, although very different personalities, what all of the figures had in common was the fact they were all driven and determined in their own special way to achieve success in their field.

He highlighted the popularity of British sports cars in particular, noting how many rose to global acclaim. Many of the cars were made famous by the stars, such as Frank Sinatra and James Bond, but much of the time the cars were the stars in their own right; think The Italian Job MINIs and 007’s Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger.

It wasn’t long before the American’s in particular fell in love with British sports car designs, helping to fund the mass production of several iconic Jaguar models.

He gave special thanks to the Jaguar Daimler heritage trust for the assistance they provided whilst he researched, and revealed he was even lucky enough to be able to ready some of William Lyons’s unpublished memoir.

A Grand Entrance
Peter revealed his impressive entrance in to the Pall Mall Clubhouse. He arrived shortly before 5am on Monday morning, when a pristine Jaguar E-type Series II Roadster (lent generously by Michael Quinn) was driven in through the open doors by its proud owner. Few have had the privilege of driving into the Royal automobile Club!

In the Rotunda
To mark the evening the Jaguar E-type Series II Roadster graced the rotunda. It was a fitting tribute to the golden era encompassed in the book. Peter referred to the genius of its design, the brainchild of aircraft engineer Malcolm Sayer. Transferring the aerodynamic principles from a plane to a car, the E-type was born, changing the legacy of sports car designs forever.

To view the E-type click here

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