TRIBUTE TO TONY HILDER b April 1936 d October 2023 by STEVE HOLE

RIP TONY HILDER. Sitting in one of his ‘greatest hits’ the glorious McLaren M1A

I am very saddened to hear of the death recently of gifted designer, the gentleman that was Tony Hilder, aged 87.

The son of the renowned landscape artist and book illustrator (he also did some stunning wartime posters), Rowland Hilder OBE, once described as ‘the Turner of his generation’.

From a young age, Tony was building Austin Seven specials and he was always going to follow an artistic type of career with that pedigree and gained a first-class degree in art and design. He then moved into freelance creative work for the likes of Cooper, Brabham and McLaren. It’s said that he was talent-spotted by Bruce McLaren.

… and another, the Piper GT. A stunning specialist car. Courtesy of Brian Snelson

I read a great quote from Tony once, where he said that he concentrated on bodywork styling and structural stuff but “If something looked ropey, I’d get involved.”

He was responsible, of course, for the iconic Piper GT (Racing Car Show 1967 launch) and swoopy GTR (1969 Racing Car Show launch), which really put him on the specialist car map and made him a kitcar great designer. He’d previously also designed an F3 car in 1966 for George Henrotte’s company.

In 1965 he did the GRP bodywork for the McLaren M1A – before it was sent to Robert Peel Coachworks for aluminium panels to be hand-formed.

In no particular order, came other well-known specialist and racecars like the Puma F3 car for Alan McKechnie’s Newent-based team (best-known for the F5000 squad), appearing in 1971 the first year of Ford 1600s that had replaced the 1-litre ‘Screamers’.

Piper GTR. Three were built and entered at Le Mans in 1969. Courtesy of Wouter Melissen

Tony also worked closely with the Hampsheir brothers at Elden Race Cars and penned several bodies for cars such as the Elden Mk7 (which quickly became the Clarke Sturdgess Mk7) and the prolific PRH8 (Mk8).

Tony also had a spell at Specialised Mouldings with Peter and David Jackson and the ‘other’ Jim Clark.

A kindly and very unassuming man we send our sincere condolences to Tony’s wife, Heather, family and many friends.