April 25, 1905 - December 07, 1996
Walter Hassan was an eminent British automotive engineer who was involved in the development of three very successful engines: the Jaguar XK, Coventry Climax and Jaguar V12, as well as the development of the ERA racing car. Walter Thomas Frederick Hassan (generally known as Wally) was born in London on April 25, 1905. His father, of Irish descent, owned a clothing store in Holloway, North London. He studied at Northern Polytechnic University (now the University of North London) and then at the Hackney Institute of Engineering Sciences. Hasan's first job was as a 15-year-old shop assistant at the newly formed Bentley Motors, after that as a mechanic in an engine shop, and then in manufacturing. Ultimately, he was awarded the title of the best Bentley mechanic. After Bentley was taken over by Rolls-Royce Limited in late 1931, Hassan left Bentley Motors and worked for Woolf Barnato. In 1933, he began building a racing car that became known as the Barnato Hassan, and was one of the fastest cars ever to hit the Brooklands circuit. In 1938 he joined SS Cars Ltd as chief engineer. When the war broke out, he moved to Bristol and worked on engine development for the Bristol Engine Company. At the end of the war, he returned to Coventry to continue working with Bill Haynes on the new XK engine project. This engine remained in production with various revisions from 1948 to 1992. In 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956 and 1957 auto-
XK-powered cars won at Le Mans. In 1950, Hassan joined Harry Mundy at the Coventry Climax, and he and Claude Bailey designed a lightweight engine that twice won the World Championship for the Lotus team. This engine was also used in cars such as the Lotus Elite. The Coventry Climax was bought by Jaguar in 1963, and now, along with Bill Haynes and the Coventry Climax engineering team, Hassan was involved in the development of the famous Jaguar V12 engine. Hassan retired on April 28, 1972 at the age of 67 and for his achievements in motorsport he became an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He died in Easenhall Warwickshire on 12 July 1996 at the age of 91.