Its with great sadness that the TR Register learnt this morning of the passing of Tony Lee, ex- chief development engineer at Standard Triumph and one of the engineers instrumental in the development of the TR range, especially the TR7.
Tony Lee joined Triumph as an apprentice in January 1946 and worked extensively alongside his bosses Harry Webster and Walter Belgrove on developing new Standard Triumph products in the post - war era. Speaking to Moss Motoring Magazine in May 1992 he recalled fond memories of his time there as an apprentice, " ... two favorite words used when speaking to apprentices, nip and whip, as in "nip over there and whip that thing out" or being asked to create a shock absorber testing rig using "that sheet of metal over there" .
One of Tony Lee's earliest projects was performance testing the first car to be released by Triumph after the war, the interestingly shaped 1800 . He then went on to the position of "experimental shop manager" and spent most of his time working at M.I.R.A on performance development. Tony's first major input into the TR range of cars was through his extensive work with the TR3 Beta where one of his test runs saw him co-piloting for Ken Richardson whilst testing a TR4 chassis fitted with TR3 components.
During the 1970s Tony had risen to the top of the engineering development hierarchy at Triumph and was sent to Turin on a couple of occasions to take a look at and eventually drive prototypes from Giovanni Michelotti for the TR6 replacement. In the end a more futuristic wedge shaped design from a young Longbridge designer called Harris Mann was chosen and Tony Lee began work on developing the car ready for market.
One of the most iconic images in TR7 history comes from TR7 prototype testing in Wales where on a 20% mountain incline near Bwlch y Groes , the power, torque and braking were all tested in rather extreme conditions whilst the car wore fins to disguise it from the competitors spy cameras.
Tony remained deeply passionate about Triumph motor cars long into his retirement and was most recently seen entertaining fans with a fascinating talk at the TR7 40th Anniversary run held at Gaydon last September. He will be sorely missed by Triumph enthusiasts from around the globe.
Alan Goodwin, General Manager at Revington TR passed on his condolences via social media today, "Tony was an intrinsic part of TR7 development and an important part of my early career. Tony will be missed."
Tony passed away on 3rd September 2015, aged 86 peacefully and surrounded by his family.
Tony Lee pictured left alongside John Lloyd on the right during a TR7 prototype test in Wales.