Michael Taylor

24/4/1934 - 7/4/2017

Record updated 24-Apr-20

Michael Taylor effectively only raced for just over twelve months. After winning a number of club races, he joined Team Lotus at Le Mans with Innes Ireland. He made his GP debut later in the year at the British Grand Prix. Then in 1960 the steering broke on his Lotus in the Belgian GP and he crashed heavily, ending his career.

Michael Taylor

Educated at Wellington, Michael Taylor was the son of a Mercedes car salesman who founded dealers Taylor & Crawley in Mayfair.

He started racing towards the end of 1957 with an old Lotus 7, well past its sell by date. The car was not competitive and Taylors' father, who had raced before the war, bought him a new Lotus XI on the basis that if he didn't finish on the podium in one of his first three races in 1958, the car would be sold. The car was prepared by Innes Ireland and Michael showed a great deal of skill in it, winning a number of club races.

In what was still basically his first year of racing, he was asked to join Team Lotus and ended up co-drving with Innes Ireland at Le Mans. He also campaigned a Formula 2 Cooper-Climax for Ken Tyrrell and won the BARC 200 at Aintree. He then made his GP debut at the British Grand Prix at Aintree in July driving a Cooper T45 for Alan Brown. Late in the season, Taylor was due to race in the US GP but he contracted jaundice and had to stand down.

Taylor continued to race the Lotus XI in 1959, taking victory in the GP des Frontieres at Chimay. Between 1958-1960 he won some 25 sports car races with it and the Lotus XV which he subsequently bought.  He also won a number of races as a works driver for Lola.

For 1960, Michael's syndicate bought one of Colin Chapman's latest Lotus 18s, which, after an outing in the International Trophy, he took to Spa for the Belgian GP.

Disaster struck during practice when the steering column broke at about 150 mph. Michael was thrown out of the car and into a tree, sustaining multiple injuries. He broke his back, neck, both legs and arms and puncturing a lung. He survived but effectively his career as a racing driver was over. Then Stirling Moss, in another Lotus 18, had a half shaft break going through Burnenville at 130 mph and ended up in the bank, unconscious and with a broken back.

The race was also a disaster. On lap 20 Chris Bristow crashed his Cooper when got off line at Malmedy. He was thrown from his car and died instantly. Five laps later, Alan Stacey, in a Lotus, crashed at Masta and was killed, reportedly after being hit in the face by a bird.

Taylor successfully sued Lotus who paid out a very substantial sum for negligence. However he never raced again, though later he did drive in a few long distance rallies.

Taylor then turned to property speculation, founding a private property company which crashed in 1977 with debts of over £8 million.

In long distance rallies, he competed in the first London to Sydney Marathon in 1968 driving a Mercedes 280SE with Innes Ireland and Andrew Hedges, winning the first to Bombay Private Entrants Award. This was followed by the London - Sahara with Sterling Moss. They broke down in the desert and were not rescued for nearly a week. And, in 1974, he drove in the London to Sydney Marathon again, this time with Paddy Hopkirk finishing 3rd and winning the Team Prize.

In 1980 he married Stirling Moss's former second wife Elaine Barberino.

He started a private property development company which crashed in 1977 with debts of over £8 million. The official receiver later blamed the collapse on "expensive, ill-judged, speculative ventures."

Notable Results:

  • Brooklands Memorial Trophy - 1st and Lap Record
  • Grand Prix de Frontieres at Chimay - 1st and Lap Record
  • Aintree 200 Formula 2 driving for Tyrrell - 1st and Lap Record
  • German Grand Prix at Avus driving a Cooper for Ken Tyrrell - Placed 4th
  • Danish Grand Prix at Roskilde - 1st and Lap Record
  • Governors Trophy at Nassau, Bahamas - 1st and Lap Record
  • Coupe de Paris at Montlhery - 1st and Lap Record