Fred Hart, a distinguished automotive engineer, died on 16 July, 2008. He was 93.Mr Hart was a key figure in the British motoring industry who worked his way up the ranks of the Ford Motor Company from draughtsman to chief engineer. He was an integral part of the team which designed the highly successful Ford Cortina.Frederick Leslie Hart was born on 12 September, 1914. He was educated at a grammar school in Walthamstow, east London. He gained his engineering qualifications at night school which he attended after he finished school.Mr Hart’s career path was erratic. Before he joined Ford he had worked as a landscape architect. In 1940 he joined Ford as a draughtsman where he helped to design armoured fighting vehicles that were used in the Second World War.In 1943 Mr Hart married Margaret Lydia Bennett. Together they had a son, John. At Ford Mr Hart later rose to chief executive due to his remarkable talents as an engineer. The first Ford car that he made a major contribution to was the Anglia 105E in 1959.The inspiration for the Cortina project, considered to be one of Mr Hart’s greatest engineering achievements, was the news that the German Ford’s Taunus 12M, a car of similar size to the Cortina, was being launched.British Ford wanted to compete in the marketplace and set their designers the challenge of designing a car which would be ready simultaneously. This was a tall order because the German design team has already put a lot of work into their plans. The British team was put under immediate pressure.Mr Hart revelled in the challenge and, working together with the other designers and engineers, managed to meet the September 1962 target. The result, the Ford Cortina, was the company’s most successful car at the time.One of Mr Hart’s most notable design achievements was the Aeroflow heating and ventilation system. This was first introduced in 1964. At the time it was seen as revolutionary in terms automotive technological advancement.Mr Hart was promoted to chief engineer in 1963. His team was responsible for designing the Ford Corsair which was a restyled but slightly bigger version of the Cortina. The last project that he worked on was the Mark IV Zephyr and the Zodiac. These were launched in January 1966.In 1969 Mr Hart was headhunted by GKN Sankey who asked him to design a car for disabled people. He was employed as technical director at their Telford base. The car he designed, a stable four wheeled vehicle to replace the previous three-wheeler, was far more practical. Mr Hart won the `1978 Design Council Award Commendation but the design proved to be too expensive to make. The government refused to financially support the plans so it was abandoned.Mr Hart retired from GKN Sankey in 1979 after working for them for a decade. After he finished working his interests included bowls and gardening. He was survived by his wife and son.
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