The Titan marque was a very successful brand in the sixties with Charles Lucas and his business partner, Roy ‘Tom the Weld’ Thomas producing some cracking cars for F3 and Formula Ford 1600 among others. A form of the company still exists today based in St Neots producing a range of top-class automotive components such as differentials, steering racks and throttle bodies. They can also design and manufacture all manner of parts for a diverse bank of customers. STEVE HOLE tells their story.

Charles Lucas was a very talented engineer who started in motorsport in the early 1960s and in 1963 he and his friends Jonathan Williams and Piers Courage became very interested in Formula Three. In 1964 they founded Anglo-Suisse Racing. Lucas often tagged along and enjoyed it, greatly.

They engaged the services of renowned engineer and ace welder Roy Thomas, revered in London club racing circles who had been building Gemini Formula Junior’s for Graham Walker’s Chequered Flag operation. Thomas (better known as ‘Tom the Weld’) had also done contract work for Jem Marsh’s Scirocco F1 team and Tom Hawkes’ Ausper Formula Junior squad.

Thomas built Lotus 31 replicas in 1964 for Williams and Courage and a Lotus 23 replica for Lucas.

When Charles received a substantial family inheritance in 1965, he decided to do motorsport properly and he set up Charles Lucas Engineering. Lucas’ nickname was ‘Luke’.

With money not an issue Lucas bought six ex-Brabham ‘works’ F2 BT10s (formerly driven by the likes of Denny Hulme and Graham Hill). Thomas revised them to F3 specification and the team went on to dominate the formula for a couple of years. Bringing a level of professionalism that hadn’t been seen in Formula Three before.

This brought Lucas’ team to the attention of Colin Chapman of Lotus who appointed Charles Lucas to run his works F3 team in 1966 as ‘Charles Lucas-Team Lotus’.

With the Brabham BT10 being the car to beat in F3 Chapman wanted to break their stranglehold and designed the Lotus 41 in response.

Two upcoming drivers were chosen to drive for the team – Roy ‘Pikums’ Pike and Piers Courage. Unfortunately, the 41 didn’t live up to expectations although Roy Thomas did manage to improve them as the season progressed with Piers finishing joint first in the standings with Chris Irwin of the Chequered Flag team.

Lucas and Chapman fell out however and the deal ended at the end of the 1966 season. They disagreed over Chapman keeping Lucas’ Firestone bonus money, much to ‘Luke’s annoyance, which was said to be a ‘substantial’ sum.

Thomas and Lucas had already built their own racecar which never raced, but the falling out with Chapman resulted in them producing their F3 car for 1967, the Mk2.

Tom the Weld cleverly incorporated the best bits of the Brabham BT10 and Lotus 41 on his car, with a spaceframe chassis and a cigar-shaped GRP body laminated by Peter Jackson’s Specialised Mouldings.

Around the same time, Thomas was also finding the time to develop his own version of the Ford Cosworth-based MAE engine.

A Mk3 ‘Titan’ quickly followed making its debut at the F1 support race at Silverstone in July 1967 with Pike on pole and Lucas third on the grid in a Lotus 41 with a Thomas-built MAE unit fitted.

In the race, Lucas spun and hit Pike, but recovered to win the race such was the power of the MAE. As a result, Charles Lucas Engineering received over 100 MAE engine orders on Monday.

In 1968, Lucas and Pike teamed up again racing the Mk3 with decent success, with a large chunk of the F3 grid by now using the MAE engine. Later that year, Charles Lucas Engineering had really established itself as both a constructor and engine builder with orders for 36 Mk3s and well over 100 of their MAE engines racing in FF1600 and F3.

With the arrival of FF1600, Lucas and Thomas quickly recognised its potential and modified their Mk3 to FF1600 regulations, when it became the Mk4, with Tony Trimmer proving very successful in the car, as were Tony Dron and Derek Lawrence – with all of them completing squarely with the Lotus’ Merlyns and Crosslés.

With the advent of the 1965 season, Thomas fitted a Hewland Mk8 gearbox to a Mk4, turning it, in the process, into a Mk5 FF1600 car, with Trimmer again tearing up trees.

In February 1968, Lucas moved his team to a purpose-built factory in Huntingdon, leaving their Highgate, North London workshop behind.

The Huntingdon factory was a huge step forward with a machine shop, engineering ‘clean’ room engine test beds and car build area. They were considered second only to Cosworth at the time.

With the Mk6 of 1970, they produced a game-changer a car that changed the face of FF1600, becoming one of the formula’s most successful racers and certainly one of its biggest sellers – with over 300 sold until 1974. It was a major advancement in terms of suspension, airflow and downforce.

A Mk7 Formula SuperVee car was stillborn just at the time they were looking to follow up on the successes of the Mk6.

In the USA, Fred Opert was their east coast agent in New Jersey with Pierre Phillips Racing in Oregon covering the western seaboard.

Sadly, the Mk8 was a bit of a disaster. The car arrived late, rushed into production and had no development. On track, it was a problem straight away and although Titan produced update kits quickly, which evolved into the Mk9 it was too little too late.

In 1971, Lucas decided that he’d had enough of running his own team, selling out to Thomas and his wife Diana. Titan’s last model, the Mk10, intended for Formula Renault, was a good car but suffered from the Mk8/Mk9 debacle and just three were produced.

The new owners revised the team’s name to Titan Cars (St Neots) Ltd in May 1975, renaming it again as Titan Motorsport and Engineering Manufacturing Co in May 1980. If you are still with me, they amended it again in 2006 to Titan Motorsport and Automotive Engineering Ltd.

These days the company still very much exists but concentrates on design and technology as well as a range of motorsport-specific components some of which such as steering racks, differentials and throttle bodies, are of interest to kitcar enthusiasts. There are some superb products within their catalogue.

They can also design components, do fast-track manufacturing, and assemble electronics for a diverse band of customers in automotive and scientific markets.

The company is still run by Diana Thomas with Lawrence ‘Oz’ Timms.

More from or call 01480 474 402.