Sid Lovesy, former Factory Manager of Bristol Cars Ltd, was born on Armistice Day 1919 and died on the 11th of April 2018 at the age of 98.
After a promising career as a cricketer for Gloucestershire county, and war service in the REME, Syd was employed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company at the postwar birth of their Car Department, later to be called the Car Division.
Sir George White, then Managing Director of the Bristol Aeroplane Co., had foreseen as early as 1941 the need for postwar diversification and planned car production at Filton, initially based on another company’s products, as a first step towards large-scale production of high-quality entirely Bristol-designed cars.
Syd commented that he was the only person in the building with engineering knowledge about the design and construction of wheeled vehicles, as he was in at the start of the new Car Division from 1946 and was to continue in continuous employment for the Bristol car works until 2011, when Bristol Cars Ltd failed.
Starting as an auto-electrician, Syd took part in design and production of the very first Bristol Type 400, and would have laid hands on every single Bristol produced until the business folded. In the early days he would travel to Lucas in Birmingham, then meet the designers in the evenings to work out the intricacies of the wiring loom.The company’s fortunes waxed and waned with the economy of its parent aeroplane company and of the country itself, from Austerity to You’ve Never had it So Good, and the transition from the Filton built highly engineered 2 Litre engines to the effortless power of the 5.2 Litre Canadian Chrysler V8 and its later derivatives. Employee numbers varied from 300 in the early nineteen fifties to 18 in 2011. Production levels of these superbly engineered, elegantly understated cars varied from five a week to zero.
Any customer who came to the works at Filton, or later Patchway, would likely have encountered Syd in his pre-computer era office, surrounded by the build sheets of every Bristol ever made, and details of every purchaser and customer.
He was a priceless repository of intimate knowledge on every single model made. having worked on and driven them all from the 2 litre 85 bhp Type 400 to the 8 litre 525 bhp Fighter, which was to be the company’s swansong. His memories included having to cope with the gullwing door on an early Fighter coming open at speed, yet conversely remaining obstinately shut when a small fire occurred while out on a test run.
He was a skilled and adept driver all his days and proudly recalled, when summoned urgently from the showroom in West London to the factory at Filton , managing the journey in what was then the latest V8 in 93 minutes in those pre-motorway, pre-70 speed limit days.
> His attention to detail and courtesy to his customers was only surpassed by his loyalty to the company, supporting it beyond the call of duty when it finally, to his great distress, went into administration.
We were delighted that he was able to attend the Bristol Owners Heritage Trust lecture day at the new Aerospace Bristol on his 98th birthday last November, at the foot of the Brabazon runway within sight of the works where he would have built, tuned and tested cars 70 years ago. And – yes – we were able to sing Happy Birthday to him.
We will not see his like again.
Dr Stefan Cembrowicz
A video recording of an interview with Syd is available via the Bristol Owners Heritage Trust website.
Photo of Sid from a 1963 staff photo: