Classic cars are only as good as the people who designed them, and Roy Axe made some incredible motors. The British designer achieved success from an early age, becoming the chief stylist of Rootes Group at the age of 29. He created an impressive number of cars, and here are six of the finest.
One of Axe’s earliest models was the Sunbeam Rapier. The Rapier featured a 1390cc engine that reached a top speed of 85mph. The car could seat up to four people and had a two-tone paint job. The Rapier was a stylish vehicle for the time, and it’s a reflection of Axe’s considerable design skills.
The 1970 Hillman Avenger was designed to compete against the Ford Escort and proved to be a commercial success. Axe had created a vehicle that was in tune with the times. It featured an American-influenced ‘coke bottle’ waistline and semi-fastback rear end.
After the Rootes Group became a part of Chrysler Europe in 1966, Axe started designing cars under the Chrysler banner. His Chrysler Alpine proved to be a welcome addition to the family car market, as it featured five doors. It became so popular that the Alpine was voted car of the year in 1976.
The Horizon was developed to be a world car, meaning it was designed for consumers on both side of the Atlantic. Axe engineered the car at the Whitley design studio and it went on to win the European Car of the Year award in 1979. Over time, the Horizon evolved into a Talbot when Chrysler Europe was taken over by Peugeot.
In 1986, The Rover CCV was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show and quickly stood out for its aerodynamic design. The car featured slim headlights and a slit-shaped grille, giving it an attractive appearance. Axe’s prototype even had a dashboard mounted CD player, considered unique for the time. However, the car was never quite able to take off due to a lack of commitment from management.
The Rover 200 came out in 1989 and featured a brand new K-Series engine that helped to drive sales forward. Despite it being a collaboration between Honda and Rover, the car retained Axe’s touch of brilliance. The car went on to inspire other cars, such as the Cabriolet and 400-series.