Designer Of The Day looks at a famous car designer and examines the impact they’ve made on the industry. Some designers like Battista Farina are known around the world, while others are underrated. One person who fit this description was William Towns. The British designer worked on cars like the Hillman Hunter, Rover-BRM and Aston Martin Lagonda. Although not as well-known as other designers, Towns’ skill can’t be understated.
In 1954, Towns started his career at Rootes, where he started working on seats and door handles. It wasn’t long before he became involved with styling the Rootes Hillman Hunter. He moved to Rover in 1963, where he perfected his signature razor-edge styling. Towns specialised in developing angular cars that became more prominent throughout the 1960s.
Towns left Rover to join Aston Martin in 1966 and he eventually created the Aston Martin Lagonda. The car came in a ‘folded paper’ style and divided enthusiasts on whether it looked good or not. The Lagonda featured a four-cam carbureted V8 engine and leather interior. Regardless of how it divided opinions, the Lagonda was certainly a striking vehicle.
Towns also developed the memorable 1980 Aston Martin Bulldog concept car. Powered by a turbocharged Aston Martin V8, the Bulldog was meant to outclass rival companies like Ferrari. However, the post-1979 recession hit Aston Martin’s sales hard and the Bulldog was never produced as a commercial vehicle.
In 1977, Towns left Aston Martin and operated as a freelance designer. During this period he worked on the Jensen-Healey, the Hustler kit-car, the Reliant SS2 and the Railton F28. The Hustler proved to be successful. Towns employed a similar style that he used with the Lagonda and Bulldog. Based on the Mini, the Hustler featured a steel framed body, glass fibre panels and flat glass windows. The Hustler came in four or six wheels, and a wooden version was introduced at the 1981 Earl’s Court Motor show. Around 500 were made and Towns sold them through his Interstyl design studio.
Towns died at his home in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire in 1993. He’d been battling cancer at the time. His cars were put on display at the Heritage Motor Centre in Graydon up until 2005.
Towns’ distinctive style helped him stand out in an industry where everyone was out to make a name for themselves. He was certainly among the greatest British classic car designers of all time.