Triumph People : David Eley


David Eley was the man behind the SC (Small Car) range of engines, including the six cylinder variants so crucial to the Vitesse and GT6. He was at the top of his game, and the SC engines were so well designed, variations of them were used from 1952 until 1980!

David Cecil Eley was born in 1917 and worked all his life for the Standard Motor Company and its successors, retiring in 1982. He started as an apprentice at Standard’s Drawing Office in 1933 under Lewis Dawtrey, at the same time as Sir John Black became MD. He finished as Chief Engineer for Transmission Design at Land Rover. As Chief of Engine Design he led the team which developed The ‘Small Car’ (SC) engine which Black wanted to power a new series of cars to reverse the ‘one car’ policy previously followed from 1948s Standard Vanguard. The team developed a four cylinder engine with overhead valves and a cast iron cylinder head of 803cc, which was installed in the then new Standard 8 of 1953. This was gradually developed up to nearly 1500cc and a similarly designed six cylinder version up to 2498cc was also developed in 1960. He told Graham Robson "We looked at various options and soon concluded that a four-cylinder, water-cooled, overhead-valve pushrod engine was the thing to go for. However, when we started out, (Production Engineer) John Harris asked us to use the same cylinder centres as the Mayflower engine - Standard had just got a modern suite of cylinder block boring and honing tackle for the Mayflower engine at Canley".

At the end of his career he was responsible for the development of the 5-speed LT77 gearbox used in the Rover SD1, Triumph TR7/8, Land Rover Discovery, MGRV8, and Leyland Sherpa van.

He died in 2009 aged 92.