1929 - 1952

Alta

Alta Key Features

  • Type of car:  Automotive manufacturer
  • Body type:  Racing cars, sports cars
  • Country of origin:  United Kingdom
  • Built in:  United States

Information about Alta

Steeped in the annals of British automotive history, the Alta Car and Engineering Company—commonly known as Alta—occupies a unique place as a sports and racing car manufacturer. Founded in 1929 by the British engineer Geoffrey Taylor, Alta was birthed in Surbiton, Surrey, and quickly set itself apart by offering sports cars with innovative features.

The brand’s debut vehicle boasted a 1.1L engine, an aluminum block, wet liners, and shaft-driven twin overhead camshafts, all designed by Taylor. This pioneering car was available in naturally aspirated or supercharged form, delivering 49 or 76 bhp. Coupled with a low-slung chassis and two- or four-seat bodies, the car was a remarkable entrant in the automotive market of its time. Of the thirteen made, five are believed to survive today.

By 1934, Alta had extended its focus to competition, producing its first vehicle designed solely for racing. These vehicles were light-weight, single-seat cars that gained a reputation for excellence in short events like hill-climbs and sprints. Despite their apparent limitations in long-distance Grand Prix events, the brand found a niche among amateur racers who favored Alta for its relatively reasonable pricing and versatility.

World War II significantly altered Alta’s trajectory. The brand’s production was halted as its capabilities were diverted to the war effort. But when peace returned, so did Alta. In 1948, the brand unveiled its Grand Prix car, known as the Alta GP, which was an evolved version of its pre-war designs. Although results on the track were mixed, the car was crucial for showcasing Alta’s technical prowess, particularly in independent suspension design.

Alta engines were not restricted to their own chassis; they were also supplied to other teams, such as Connaught and HWM. Over the years, these engines found their way into a variety of British-built Formula One cars. However, by 1959, the Alta name faded away from Formula One circles, never to return.

Beyond race cars and sports cars, Alta made a notable impact in the aftermarket speed equipment industry after WWII. Perhaps most renowned was their overhead valve head conversion kit for the early Morris Minor and Morris Eight. This remarkable kit had the capability to double the power of the 27 BHP flathead engine.

In recent history, efforts have been made to revive the Alta brand, notably by Taylor’s son Michael in 1976, but without success. Despite the stops and starts, several Alta cars have survived and are privately owned. These vehicles often make appearances in historic race meetings, keeping the legacy of this innovative British brand alive.

In sum, Alta represents an intriguing chapter in British automotive history. It is a brand marked by innovation, adaptability, and a pursuit of performance, qualities that continue to endear it to car enthusiasts even today.

My Dream Supercars collection

By Marcus Newark

0 items

Similar

No results available

Reset

Pages related to Alta

My Dream Supercars collection

By Marcus Newark

0 items

Similar

No results available

Reset

Related pages