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About Alta

The Alta Car and Engineering Company was a sports and racing car manufacturer from England, commonly known simply as Alta. Their cars contested five FIA World Championship races between 1950 and 1952, as well as Grand Prix events prior to this. They also supplied engines to a small number of other constructors, most noteably the Connaught and HWM teams.

Early history

The company was founded by engineer Geoffrey Taylor in Surbiton, Surrey, and produced its first automobile in 1929. Alta's first vehicle was a sports car powered by an 1.1L engine, featuring an aluminium block, wet liners and shaft-driven twin overhead camshafts, which he designed himself. It was offered in normal or supercharged form giving 49 or 76bhp. A choice of 4 speed non synchromesh or pre-selector gearboxes was available. These were mounted on a low-slung chassis frame with open two or four seat bodies. Thirteen were made of which five are thought to survive.

This design, and its later 1.5L and 2L sister cars, sold steadily, but in limited numbers, right up to the outbreak of war in 1939. With the highest power option the car was capable of 120 mph and 0-60 mph in 7 seconds. In 1937 the company introduced front independent suspension to the chassis. They became popular among club racers due to their ability to be converted easily from 1.5L to 2L or vice versa, allowing drivers on a limited budget to contest more than one class without having to buy a second car.

In 1934 Taylor produced the first Alta to be designed solely for competition. The resulting light-weight, off-set single seat voiturette cars achieved quite a reputation in shorter events such as hill-climbs, sprints and time-trials. Once again, Alta's keen pricing, in comparison to the expensive ERA models, resulted in many sales to amateur racers. However, a lack of reliability kept the Alta name out of the long distance Grand Prix events. A revised voiturette design appeared in 1937, with independent front suspension. George Abecassis had some success with this design, winning a string of events before the war interrupted. As war approached, Taylor was drafting designs for a new straight-8 engine and a third-generation voiturette, this time with fully independent suspension. This last prewar car was highly advanced for its time, and was very nearly complete in late 1939. However, as soon as war was declared, Alta's production capabilities were given over to the war effort, and production of the new designs was halted.


Alta GP

Despite Alta's diminutive size, and their status as a primarily road car manufacturer, Alta was in fact the first British constructor to produce a new Grand Prix car following the end of World War II. Austerity limitations of raw materials did not stop Taylor beginning production of designs he had been developing throughout the war years, and the Alta GP car appeared in 1948. He also restarted production of the road-going sports cars, although without further development funding the popularity of these models rapidly dwindled. Prior to 1948, the last pre-war Alta was campaigned with varying degrees of success.


S4 8v 1.5L DOHC    
63.4 kW / 85.0 hp / 85.0 hp        

Alta 1½-Litre (1935)

2-door 2-seater roadster, petrol (gasoline) 4-cylinder 8-valve straight (inline) engine, DOHC (double overhead camshafts, twin cam), 1488 cm3 / 90.8 cu in / 90.8 cu in, 63.4 kW / 85.0 hp / 85.0 hp @ 5000 rpm / 5000 rpm / 5000 rpm, rear wheel drive

S4 8v 1.1L DOHC    
50.7 kW / 68.0 hp / 68.0 hp        

Alta 1100 (1931)

2-door 2-seater roadster, 4-cylinder 8-valve straight (inline) engine, DOHC (double overhead camshafts, twin cam), 1074 cm3 / 65.5 cu in / 65.5 cu in, 50.7 kW / 68.0 hp / 68.0 hp @ 6000 rpm / 6000 rpm / 6000 rpm, rear wheel drive

S4 8v 2.0L DOHC    
119.3 kW / 160.0 hp / 160.0 hp        

Alta 2-Litre (1935)

2-door 2-seater roadster, 4-cylinder 8-valve straight (inline) engine, DOHC (double overhead camshafts, twin cam), 1961 cm3 / 119.7 cu in / 119.7 cu in, 119.3 kW / 160.0 hp / 160.0 hp @ 5500 rpm / 5500 rpm / 5500 rpm, rear wheel drive

S4 8v 2.0L DOHC    
134.2 kW / 180.0 hp / 180.0 hp        

Alta 2-Litre (1935)

2-door 2-seater roadster, 4-cylinder 8-valve straight (inline) engine, DOHC (double overhead camshafts, twin cam), 1961 cm3 / 119.7 cu in / 119.7 cu in, 134.2 kW / 180.0 hp / 180.0 hp, rear wheel drive


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