Dr Alex Moulton and the Six-Ex Mini Owners Club
With such prestigious links to the history of the Mini, Dr Moulton was approached by our then Club Secretary, Mike Prior, when the club first formed in 1995.
As he was a local man, having both his home and business in Bradford-on-Avon, Dr Moulton was asked if he wished to support the club at events and to act as our figure head.
Those early days led to a strong bond being formed and with Alex’s help we used some of his original 1958 rubber and Hydrolastic suspension and development jigs to set up a wonderful themed club stand at Stoneleigh Mini Show at the National Agricultural Centre in 1997. This was awarded first prize and motivated the club enough to win a ‘first’ again the following year with our 3D Italian Job stand.
Alex’s friendship with the club went further still. Graham Phillips, our 2002/2003 Chairman, can recall numerous occasions Dr Moulton visited Somerford Mini’s where Graham was Workshop Manager. Invariably, Alex would take along his unique custom Mk2 998 Cooper which he had developed even further to utilise the latest Hydra gas system and a very special suspension arm arrangement, the type of which was eventually used by MG Rover for the MGF. Graham said the Cooper was like nothing else he had ever driven, and I am sure he has driven quite a few over the years!!
Dr Alex Moulton served as our clubs Honorary President until he sadly passed away in December 2012, we were extremely privileged and in his memory he will not be replaced – How could he be?!
Dr Alex Moulton Visits the Six-Ex Mini Owners Club – February 2004
Shortly after the formation of the club in 1995, Dr Moulton kindly visited the club at its former venue of the Royal Oak in Corsham. On this occasion, he provided us with a wonderful rendition of the development of the Mini and his very deep involvement with its suspension along with the stories and anecdotes that have gone with it over the years.
We were delighted when Dr Moulton agreed to return to the club in February 2004 to do it all over again!!
This time, as well as entertaining us with all his wonderful chronicles and accounts, he provided an insight in to his other business interests throughout the years and of the early origins of ‘Moulton Developments’ being based on the site of the Old Water Mill off the River Avon.
How many of you know he invented the fold-up bicycle, and that it is still being produced today?
A lot happened in the remaining years of the Mini production since his previous presentation to the club in 1996, so in his second visit in February 2004 he was able to give us an ‘insiders view’ in to the attitude towards the Mini, and sadly, its eventual demise.
Alex was one of the most influential man in the life of the Mini. He was always happy to come along to shows and it was obvious that he had a lot of pride in his achievements and in seeing us with smiles still on our faces after all those years of happy Mini motoring.
Dr Alex Moulton
Dr Alex Moulton designed, developed and patented the original rubber cone and Hydrolastic damper suspension systems fitted to the whole Mini range from 1959 to 2000.
The original work was undertaken with liaison from Alec Issigonis, the original creator of the Mini. It took just under two years to produce prior to the Minis launch on 15th August 1959.
With only 2 variations throughout 40 years of production, the dry suspension was favoured in later years, as a lower part count was cheaper over Hydrolastic, though this fluid damper based design was considered by most to provide a superior and more comfortable ride even though it was only used for about 4 years in the 1970’s, finding its way onto a handful of Mk2’s and a limited number of Mk3’s, including a few Cooper S’s. It is rare to see these today.
Rover used the dry rubber cone design up to the end of Mini production in 2000. Harder rubber is still used for competition cars but conversely, around the late 1990’s Alex Moulton designed the ‘Smootharide’ system using cones which had a softer material and longer length and these were used with special adjustable dampers. This is still offered today as a replacement of the original units and is said to be the ultimate in dry suspension. The package retails at most Mini outlets.
Alex Moulton met the objectives of Issigonis to design a very compact system. Without his dedication in those early days, who knows what other designs of suspension we would have inherited.