Malcolm Sayer (21 May 1916–1970) was an aircraft and car designer. His most notable work being the iconic E-Type Jaguar. He spent the last twenty years of his life working at Jaguar Cars and was one of the first engineers to apply principles of aerodynamics to car design.
Sayer was born in Cromer, Norfolk, and Educated at Great Yarmouth Grammar School (where his father taught Maths and Art) and later at the then Loughborough College. He worked for the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the Second World War, which exempted him from conscription by way of reserved occupation protection. Following the war he married Pat Morgan in 1947, and after his daughter was born then went to Iraq in 1948 to work at Baghdad University; this turned out to exist only on paper, so he worked instead maintaining the fleet of government vehicles. He returned to the UK in 1950 and joined Jaguar in 1951. Some of his particular contributions were the introduction of slide rule and seven-figure log tables to work out formulae he invented for drawing curves, work which is now undertaken by complex Computer Aided Design software.
His work at Jaguar Cars
His designs include:
- Jaguar C-type (also called XK120-C, due to its being based on the Jaguar XK120)
- Jaguar D-type
- Jaguar E-type (XKE)
- Jaguar XJ13 Racing Prototype
- Jaguar XJS (although the car launched several years after Sayer's death)
Even today, many of the design elements associated with the E-type Jaguar can be found on the company's cars. The long bonnet, haunches over the rear wheels and the stance are all features incorporated into Jaguar's XK8 coupe designed by the late design director Geoff Lawson, which have continued on in the current production version modified by his successor Ian Callum. According to Porter & Skilleter's biography of the founder of Jaguar, the legendary Sir William Lyons, Sayer was credited with playing a leading role in the unfolding story of Jaguar.
Racing Glory - the C Type and the D Type
Sayer's first design for a sports racing Jaguar was the immensely successful and extremely beautiful C Type that won Le Mans in 1951 and 1953.
To surpass the C Type, Sayer then designed the revolutionary D Type Jaguar that was one of the most successful racing cars of all time - winning Le Mans in 1955, 1956 and 1957. On the Mulsanne straight, D type could achieve a speed of 192.4 mph.
Sayer went on to design the Jaguar E-Type, the icon of sixties motoring.
The XJ 13
In 1965, Sayer designed the Jaguar XJ13, a mid-engined Jaguar sports racing car that was intended for competition at Le Mans. Cost constraints and a rule change at Le Mans meant the XJ-13 was never driven in international competition, but it exemplified all of the classical Sayer sophistication in aerodynamics as his earlier designs. In 1971 the XJ 13 prototype was brought out of storage to help promote the new V12 E-Type when it was largely written off in a major crash. The car was rebuilt in 1972/73 albeit with changes from the original - losing some of Sayer's classic lines in the process.
At the request of Sir William Lyons, Sayer designed the 12-cylinder Jaguar XJS. The XJS never achieved the same iconic status as the E-Type but it was acclaimed for its comfort, luxury and grandeur as a grand tourer. The XJS remained in production for 20 years.
His son was born in 1953 and another daughter in 1956.
He was also a musician, playing piano, guitar and other instruments. Sayer described himself as an aerodynamicist rather than a stylist and the aerodynamics quality of the cars was his prime concern.