In Memorium

Douglas Wilson-Spratt

16th June 1921 - 12th April 2011












Journalist and friend Andrew Roberts contributed this touching piece to the MG Enthusiast magazine . .

Thank you . .

From all the family, our sincere gratitude for your kind thoughts, memories and contribution to a good send-off at Peel Cathedral on April 20th. His WSM cars were displayed and the fly-past at the end of the service, courtesy of the Association of Manx Pilots, was marvellous.

Douglas always planned ahead and he would want us to look to the future. Onwards and upwards . .


Sadly, Dad passed away on Tuesday morning 12th April. Although 'Anno Domini' as Dad termed it had taken a toll on the speed of all his day to day activities over the last few years, he remained living independantly, razzing around in his recently acquired Smart car and still carrying out a schedule of meetings, lunches, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Plenty of plans were afoot but Dads ticker decided on Tuesday that running on too few cylinders for so long and trying to keep up with his timetable was an impossible mission.

I apologise to anyone with whom we could not make personal contact earlier, as we increasingly found the task of telephoning the large number of people quite simply overwhelming, therefore the following was also emailed on Tuesday -

'Although I could'nt take Dad to Brands Hatch on Saturday 9th April, his WSM's placed 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 10th in practice for the HRDC Grand Touring Greats. I telephoned him and it took a while to get such a simple sentence out as I had'nt realised how it would effect me so to tell him. I arrived back at 5.45am on Monday morning off the ferry and that evening we leafed through an album he'd started with recent pix of the cars and occasions. He reminded me he was driving to France next week for a wedding and champagne tour, and that the Jodel was nearly finished. I fixed his television and said goodnight and that I'd see him tomorrow when he would give me the guest list for his 90th planned on 16th June.

I'm afraid this morning he collapsed, in company, and was taken to hospital where they were unable to revive him. The heart that's been operating for so many years on two or three cylinders finally cried 'enough'.  I miss him already.'

The funeral service takes place at Peel Cathedral in the Isle of Man at 1pm on Wednesday 20th April. With my sister Laura, we welcome you to join us and difficult though it may well be, help us celebrate the living of a remarkable life . .

Contact Simon Mellor at David Lancaster Funeral Directors on 01624 842945 for details on flowers or donations please

Tributes -

Arculus, Brian - WSM owner and racer (UK)

Terribly sorry to hear the sad news.  My brief and only recent contact with your father was always a pleasure.  Pity he didn't make his 90th, but by any measure it was a fair innings. It is pleasing that one of the last things he will have heard about was the success of the Wuzzums at Brands - it was a privilige to have been part of that.

Bianchi, Tony and Pia - ex WSM owner, aviators and racers (UK)

Pia and I are so very sorry to hear of your sad loss. Douglas was a great person and such a nice man, an inspiration to us all and it was always a pleasure to see him. I have some very fond memories of the early days when he used to come to Booker aerodrome with your Mother and he would spend unlimited time offering superb guidance with things racing, highly valuable to a beginner as I was rebuilding my first pre-war racing car in those far off days. We are all so very lucky to have known him. Do please let us know of the arrangements ? 

Bradley, Stephen - ex Ronaldsway Airport (IoM)

I have just heard the sad news that your Father has passed away. I know there is little that can be said at times like this except to say, your Dad more than most lived life to the full and he packed more things into his life than most I have met. I met him well before I met you when I was involved at the airport, and he was held in such high regard down there as a true aviator, a man with his own mould.

Bridgland, Malcolm and Bennie - ex WSM 3000 owner and racer (UK)

Bennie and I were saddened to hear of Doug's passing. Our condolences to you and your family. We are unable to leave Crinan for the 20th April as we have all the grandchildren here for that week and we have to be on duty. Please keep in touch, and if you are ever in Argyll we would love to see you.

Cocks, Clive and Sue - WSM owner and racer (UK)

I am so sorry I have not replied earlier. Your phone call really took me back. Keep meaning to phone you but don't know what to say, so e mail does have its advantages. Though only knowing Douglas for a short time in his 90 year reign, his passing is very hard to handle. I was looking forward to seeing him again at the Manx Classic and would be sure I would be told that at least I am “consistent” and hear more of his stories (some of which I would have heard before and for which he would always apologise for). Very proud to be part of the WSM gang.

Coulthard, Tom - Spridgeteer and historian (UK)

Just a note to say how very sorry I was to hear of Douglas’s passing and to send you and all the family my sincerest condolences. I know it will have been a great shock (despite what people tend to assume when a person reaches a more advanced age) and the Douglas-sized hole in all your lives will be very considerable. He was someone I felt privileged to have met. He followed his dreams – but also managed to enrich other peoples’ lives in the process: which I suspect is a much rarer achievement.

Davis, Rae and Avril - WSM owner and racer (UK)

Hi Tony, just picked up your call. Both Avril and I are very sad to hear about your Dad. I only met him a few times but he was a great bloke and a true gent. Please extend our condolences to all. Love, light and peace, Rae + Avril.

Dollimore, Vicky - (UK)

I am so sorry to hear (via Christophe) the very sad news about your father.  Although your family had not lived in Leighton Buzzard for many years, Delta Garage and your father were such a part of "old" LB. The news will also sadden my father, who remembers people and businesses from all those years ago much better than he recalls what happened yesterday, and I am sure he will join with us in sending our deepest condolences. I hope we will see you soon at a GTS meeting. Best regards. Vicki and Tim and Lewis Willard

Elstrop, Colin and Helen - racers (UK)

We were very sorry to receive the news from Christophe about your father. He must have been very proud to hear the result from Brands Hatch and I understand how you must feel at this moment. In 2008 just after our entry was accepted for Classic Le Mans, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He insisted we continue with all our plans and I’m sure he lived an extra month just because we were racing. Only a week after our return from France and having seen our photos he passed away peacefully in his sleep.

It is very appropriate the WSM cars did so well at Brands and while they are still racing your father will always be there. Our thoughts are with you. Kindest regards

Elwell, Gordon and Angela - Sprite racer (UK)

I have only just heard the sad news about your Father and wished to send my condolences to you and your family. My last memory of him was enjoying the party at the last Goodwood Revival. How fitting for a gentleman who has had such an impact on the sport we love.

Emerson, Bill - ex NASA, Healey historian, WSM S2 owner (USA)

As I'm sure you know, I mourn the loss of a friend.  Douglas and I spoke the same language, we looked to the future and lived for the adventure of the day.  He is missed.  But, he is remembered for his smile, great conversation and his joy of life.  A role model for anyone. I am recuperating with Gaye as my nurse, so when your email came in I had her read it aloud and we both had tears in our eyes.  Douglas had a long and eventful life. Both Gaye and I are so pleased that we were able to share some of that time with him.  Our heartfelt sorrow for your loss

Foxton, Peter - architect (IoM)

I just spoke to John Ledwidge as I was thinking of calling on site tomorrow to see how things are going and he gave me the sad news about Dad. We are all very saddened by this bombshell and please accept our sympathy and condolences at this sad time for you.  He was such a character and certainly lived a full life that most of us can only dream about.

Freeman, Paul - Spridgeteer (UK)

I just learnt the sad, sad news of the passing of your Dad. I am very sorry but am honoured to have met him and witnessed a special and talented gentleman. He brought so much to motorsport, engineering and touched so many people with his modest brilliance. My condolences.

Garbutt, Andrew and Shelagh - petrol heads (UK)

Thank you so much for letting us know the sad news so quickly.  What a mercy for him that it was so fast when it came.  I`m glad you had seen him so soon before.We have nothing but the fondest memories of Douglas and will also miss him badly. I don`t have to tell you what a pleasure it was to sit and chew the cud with him. A fine exponent of the "work hard, play hard"  generation, he was an example to us all. Please accept our heartfelt condolences.  We would appreciate it if you would keep us abreast with the formalities.

Andrew has just forwarded your email to me.  I am so sorry to hear about Douglas. I have a lovely memory of the couple of hours he and I spent chatting in the
sunshine, drinking tea and eating fruitcake last year at Goodwood.  I will miss seeing him again.  From the stories he was telling me, it sounds like he had a
wonderfully full life. My thoughts are with you all. Love Shelagh Garbutt.

Gathercole, David and Lorraine - racers (UK)

We were so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. It seems only yesterday we were chatting with him at the Goodwood Ball and he was in such high spirits and full of tales of his adventures in his Smart. We can't be with you to celebrate his life, but we are thinking of you and your family, and remembering fondly the lovely WSM he built and that David drove at Goodwood. With fond love and kindest regards

Gordon, Robbie and Mary - ex WSM owner and racer (UK)

All the best have to go ... with both our condolences and happy thoughts of times past. An all round amazing person who always made us feel included, a very pleasant feeling ! Yours aye, Robbie and Mouse

Gough, Owen - Delta Garage mechanic 1960/61 (UK)

This was always going to be a day I hoped would never happen. D.W.S. was a legend, a man I had great respect for, and, had been of late constantly in my thoughts whilst writing about my days at Delta. I know all that you have done Tony, to keep the WSM history alive and where it is today gave D.W.S. so much satisfaction and pride in your achievements. God Bless Douglas, I will also miss you. Owen Gough

Grainger, Ian - Sprite connoisseur (UK)

I was so sorry to hear of the death of your father. I understand that it mercifully happened quickly. He has left us a lasting tribute to his life in his beautiful cars. I will always remember Douglas with great affection.

Greenwood, Amanda - family friend (UK)

I wanted to send you and all the family my condolences at this very sad time.  Mark told me about Douglas’ passing yesterday morning, and I was hugely saddened. Douglas was such a lovely gentleman.  He came to stay with me in London on a number of occasions, providing a personal courier service to me when something needed to be dropped off in London, or taken back to the Isle of Man !  I remember him coming to stay for a night with your Mum when I lived in Ealing, many years ago – we had a very gay time ! I always remember Douglas enjoying his food – I used to make sure I made something delicious for him, and he was always very appreciative. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to the island for the funeral, but I assure you my thoughts will be with you all, and I hope the day goes well for you all. With kindest regards and deepest sympathy.

Harland, Ian - aviator (IoM)

Firstly, may I convey my condolences to you over the loss of your Father. He was an extraordinary man and will be well missed by all. I’ve called Peter Riggs to let him know and have copied Peter into this. Please would you confirm to us both the funeral arrangements – I understand it to be provisionally next Wednesday the 20th April at 13:00 at Peel Cathedral.

Harris, Sarah - petrol head (UK)

Just wanted to say how sorry I was to hear about your Father, my thoughts are with you and all your family at this very sad time. I wasn't lucky enough to know Douglas very well, we had just two brief meetings - Silverstone, giving a much needed sit down and welcome cup of tea, and the Goodwood Revival where I was chatting to him at the evening dinner.  On both occasions I was inspired by his energy and enthusiasm, he was to me a true gentleman. He will be thought of every time we see a WSM racing around a circuit . .

Hay, Neville - commentator and historian (IoM)

Tony - the following is intended for the magazine 'Cars for the Connoisseur'

' Douglas Wilson-Spratt, the very talented designer, died from a heart attack just short of his 90th birthday which was to be in June. A long time resident of the Isle of Man, Douglas is perhaps best remembered for his superb special bodied Sprite, Spridgets and MGBs produced in small numbers. There were other cars which received the Wilson-Spratt treatment, leaving many knowledgeable folk wondering why his handsome designs created little interest or found favour from their manufacturers. They may well have created an extended market for these cars which are still popular today. Wilson-Spratt’s cars performed as superbly as they looked and their successful competition career, started by Douglas of course, continues to the present day and you can still buy a WSM car !
This charming, gifted man retained an interest in the cars he had created. His Motor Sport career spanned over fifty years and encompassed a large number of events. These included International rallies and races alongside which he had a deep and enduring love of flying, a passion he indulged in as a pilot until very recently. If you could drive it, tow it, live in it or fly, cars, caravans, aeroplanes, houses, all received the Wilson-Spratt treatment in a long and successful life.

Our sympathies and our thoughts go to his two children, his grandchildren and great grandchildren at this time.

Henderson, Murray - Sprite racer (UK)

Very sad to hear of the passing of Douglas. Like everyone else I suspect, we have some lovely memories of meeting and talking to a man from a different age, who has had a wonderful, interesting  and colourful life. Our thoughts are with you at this time. Thinking of you. Murray and family.

Hesz, Peter - family (UK)

As you know my contact with your father was limited to a few meetings as a teenager, however I hold him responsible for awakening a passion in me for all things mechanical. A demonstration by Douglas of the newly launched Cooper S that included handbrake turns has been a positive marker in my memory bank for over 40 years. Perhaps the strongest memories are of my uncle Percy, your Grandfather, proudly showing me copies of Safety Fast magazine, that as often as not would have an article featuring Douglas. I think I can visualize a cover with Douglas competing in the Tulip Rally. The little that I know of Douglas was of a highly competent and patient man who was always willing to share his bountiful knowledge and good humor with like-minded friends and family. He will be greatly missed.
My commiserations to all the family.

Hill, Geoff - ex-WSM owner (UK)

Although very sad I know that his legacy will be that we will remember his creations with great respect and that they are continuing. What’s more his enthusiasm and zest for life was infectious and that he certainly had no intentions of stopping. He will be missed and remembered very fondly by all who knew him.

Hulett, Ian and Maggie - WSM owner and Sprite racer (UK)

Thank you for calling me this afternoon. I appreciate your difficulty in passing on the sad news of the passing of Douglas. I was looking forward to meeting with him when '401' is finished so that he could pass a critical eye over it - I was hoping it would pass the test ! Maggie and myself offer our sympathy to you and your family.

Ingall, Martin and Susan - Spridgeteers (UK)

So very sorry to hear the sad news. We have lost another great hero of our sport and hobby. It was good you were able to tell him of the success of his fabulous little cars at the weekend. Our thoughts are with you. Best regards Martin and Susan

Jefferson, Josie - Delta Garage (UK)

I really feel for you on the sad loss of your Father. I am sure you may remember that I first met him at Delta Garages way back in the late 50's early 60's. He was such a good boss, but more, all your family became my friends. I can understand fully your feelings of sadness and loss, and my heart goes out to you. The DWS cars always were a force to beat, and I am sure through them your Father will live on. I often used to speak about you and your Father. Indeed, only last Friday my son and I were invited to Silverstone, and I was chatting to Steve Lewis, an instructor there and telling him all about your wonderful Father. Take care. Please remember me to Laura.   Hopefully, if you are over here again, we can all meet up. Sincere thoughts,      Jo

Krikken, Maarten - Spridgeteer (UK)

I just read the sad news on your father on the website. It is such a pity he didn't make it to his 90th birthday party but I am sure you and the other WSM drivers and enthusiasts will keep paying tribute to his work on and off the track. I only met him once, standing in the background, at Silverstone where he was clearly very pleased with seeing a few of his old cars back since such a long time and it was a pleasure to hear him talk about his adventures in the 1960's.
I wish you and you family all strength in these difficult days. Kindest regards

Loveridge, Guy - Automobile historian and auctioneer (Yorkshire)

I am so sorry to have read that email. When I opened my inbox and saw "DWS" I had a sinking feeling. There is nothing that can be said. If there is anything at all that I can do, be it passing the word, or doing an obituary or just chatting, then please let me know. I know that Victoria and I both send our love and best wishes to you all. Your Dad was a cracking chap, it was always fun to chat with him, at Goodwood or wherever, and I will miss him as well. Immediately thought of my coming into the pits at Mallory in your WSM, having spun it, and DWS saying to me "Guy, I did build my cars to go forwards, rather than backwards you know!" Super, lovely, GENTLE gentleman. 

McManus, Jim and Peggy - the 'M' in WSM and friends (UK)

I first met Doug in 1958 just days after the official launch,  when we were both in Sprites in a Driving Test event - he won !   A few years later we were in business together as the Healey Centre and then WSM's. As  business partners, we were very much on the same wavelength and I greatly admired his business acumen. But more than that, we became good friends and remained so right up to date and, in fact, we met more often  in the last decade, thanks to Tony, than we had in the previous thirty years.  So typical of Doug that right at the end he was planning to drive in his Smart car to Europe, at just short of ninety - what a man and what a priviledge to know him.   His memory will live on not only through his family but also  in his WSM cars.     Sincerest condolences       Jim and Peggy McManus

Mangan, John - aviator (UK)

I was so sorry to hear the sad news about your Dad.  He was a real Trojan, a true gentleman and I admired him immensely.  A free spirit to the end, I shall miss him enormously, as we all will. 

Mayall, Priscilla - friend (IoM)

I felt so sad yesterday to hear of your Dad's death. He was such a good friend to Lionel and me also. We so enjoyed his company at 'AMP' do's and on Club Robin trips and I know how much Lionel enjoyed jaunts to Le Mans. He was a true gentleman and will be missed by so many - most especially you and all his family. Richard, who has especially fond memories of him, Edward and Anna also join in sending sympathy to you all. With love

Mayall, Richard and Jo - aviator (UK)

I am not sure if we have actually met, but your father was a very good friend to my father, Lionel. I had the great privilege of spending many hours flying with Douglas while starting out in my career in flying. I will always remember how much I enjoyed his company and much of his knowledge and experience he managed to pass on to me during these times. I have to say it was a very great privilege to have known Douglas and been able to call him a friend. I was very saddened to hear of his very sad passing today. Our thoughts are very much with you and your family at this very sad time. With our sincere condolences.

Miller, Mark - aviator (UK)

We've not met but I am most grateful to you for including me in your notification of the terribly sad news, and so sorry that I could not come to the Isle of Man at short notice.  Having just been browsing the WSM site I realise that there was even more to Douglas than I knew !

It must have been in the late 80s that we first came into contact.  With my father I had long since been restoring a de Havilland Dragon Rapide, for which we required to find 3-legged passenger seats - of that special Elektron tube variety which corrode to dust at the slightest provocation.  Douglas meanwhile was on a similar quest but for the 4-leg type used in the Percival Q6. One day he and your Mother appeared in my own parents' drive for us to exchange some of these very items.  They were quick to explain that their somewhat underwhelming vehicle was based at Mona only for forays to the Mainland!  It soon enough transpired that we had a lot of common ground, so much so that your parents stayed that night despite Laurette voicing grave concern lest she was in any way imposing.

We had all battled the crosswinds at a particular Leicester PFA Rally, during which Douglas said his Condor take-off had proceeded in a series of hair-raising swerves, briefly releasing differential brake to allow at least some acceleration, then reapplying it to arrest the swing towards the aircraft park.  In particular we owned an Auster Autocrat (and still do).  Every time I press the Auster's starter button I hear Douglas recalling his 'party piece' whereby G-AIRC, with covert preparation inside the hangar, would always start on the first blade in front of onlookers!  In that long night of chit-chat it seemed that we reviewed every highlight and low point of the 1950s and 60s - decades of greatly interesting aeronautical and vehicular activity but largely before my own time.

Having established a friendship we renewed acquaintance annually at the various PFA Rallies, until the sequence of those events became sadly interrupted.  Imagine my pleasure in September 2010, on the most beautiful calm summer’s day at the revived Sywell event, upon sighting Douglas in company with John Mangan.  Moreover, I had flown the completed Rapide to the event and Douglas was able to get a really good look at it from the comfort of his wheelchair.  After a break of several years it was breathtaking how accurately he briefed John on my disdain for anything other than aeroplanes of the old school.

I feel now rather as when a favourite broadcaster, a melodious and wise voice that has been part of the background as one grows up, is suddenly no longer there.  They said that English summers would never be the same without 'Johnners', and this really is how I feel about Douglas.  He was truly a one-off, the original ‘Gentleman Engineer’!

With Best Wishes, Mark Miller

Moore, David - MAC archivist & petrol head (UK)

I am afraid I have only just caught up with the sad news of Douglas' passing. We have just been on an MAC trip to Ireland in the MGB and while there, the topic of WSMs came up and one of my fellow motorists said he had heard that Douglas had died - I went straight on the website as soon as we were home to see this confirmed.

I never had the privilege of meeting your father but anyone with real motoring interests cannot fail to be impressed by what he achieved in his lifetime and it must have given him much pleasure to see how enthusiastically you are continuing the WSM name. Albeit late, please accept my condolences at his passing and keep up the WSM work which is a lasting memorial in itself. Best regards, David

Noble-Thompson, Lorraine - WSM S2 owner (UK)

As I think you know I was extremely fond of your Father, and your call with the sad news did hit me hard as I know it has you and your family. Your Father was a true gentleman of the old school, and although I only met him a handful of times I felt that I had known him for many a moon as this is the effect he had. He was warm, kind and very interesting to talk to about the adventures he had, I could have listened to him for hours. I will cherish the words that you have written and my heart goes out to you and your family at this time and knowing that my car, which was and is going to be called the Douglas Wuzzum after your father and that I didn’t realise he took such an interest in my car, it grieves me that he will now not see the completion of it. It was with your Father at Goodwood last year while in the BMC transporter taking tea that the colour, wheels and spec were discussed and finalised.

Thank you for the details on the service and to inform you that I will be attending the “celebration of his life” on Wednesday and I will be joining Paul on the Tuesday ferry. And when the Douglas Wuzzum is completed I will bring it over again as a respect for him. You’re in my thoughts at this time.

Parker, Chris and Mavis - aviators and petrol heads (UK)

Following on from our telephone conversations earlier this evening we would like you to accept our sincere condolences on your sad loss. There will be many people who have counted Douglas as a friend who will also find a void in their lives which will be very difficult to fill. In my case friendship with Douglas and Laurette went back to early 1966 - almost exactly 45 years ago! - when we all were learning to fly on the Austers of the Northants Aero Club.  Douglas and Laurette turning up in a heavily laden Mini Countryman ( a woody model in Tartan Red and carrying - of course - DWS 97 plates).  From that time onwards we were never out of touch with Douglas and with Laurette until her sad departure.  Apart from the very many occasions on which we met - at flying events and on airfields at home and abroad and in each others homes - there were the regular and lengthy phone calls covering current projects, the past, the future, a bit of gossip and what fortune and misfortune life had dealt us.  The last call between us was last Wednesday evening - 45 mins each for me and for Mavis - sad that there will be no more, but looking back we can appreciate the rich vein of pleasure there has been in sharing close to a half-century of each others lives. We will forever remember Douglas as a smart, kindly gentleman - and as a true enthusiast. Much more to be recalled and celebrated - try not to be too sad -  rejoice over Douglas's long life and his many achievements and his legacy of  excellence. Love C & M

Pinkerton, Barry - Spridgeteer (USA)

Just heard through the grapevine that Douglas has passed.  That certainly marks the end of an era. Thinking of you and the family at this tough time.

Pinkerton, Robin and Mardi - Delta Garages 1960's (UK)

It was with much sadness that we received the news of Douglas's death. He will be sorely missed by us and many, many others. Just minutes before your phone call I had been polishing the large brass dolphin door knocker that Douglas and Laurette had given us as a wedding present and reminiscing on the fun and happy times we all had at Delta. We regret we will be unable to attend Douglas's funeral but our thoughts and prayers will be with you all. With our deepest sympathy and love

de la Riviere, Ted and Sally - ex F1 mechanic, engine builder, garagiste (UK)

Sal and I are SO sad to read of your Dad's passing oh dear ! We are very upset. What a great character he was and we will miss him as well, we were looking forward to perhaps seeing him at Silverstone. He so very nearly made his 90th, so close. We had a good weekend with Will back in the saddle and doing well, it was great to see your pale blue WSM out, I don't think we have seen that one before, we were also glad to meet up with Paul and Sharon again.We will be saying a prayer for Douglas as will many others that have had the privilege to have known him. God bless. Love from us both and to the rest of your family.

de la Riviere, Will - garagiste and racer (UK)

So so sorry to hear that. He will be very sadly missed by so many people. I’m sure you are very proud of him. His contribution to our world of cars was greater than most of us will achieve in two life-times. My thoughts are with you and your family. Very best wishes. Will

Riggs, Peter - aviator (IoM)

Thank you for your mail. I was decimated to hear poor Douglas had died. He was always my best friend and we shared many happy times together both aloft and in cars. I am sure you were the best son a Dad could have wished for, encouraging Douglas to keep doing exciting things that challenged him to the end. I am so glad he went without having to go to hospital. You can be proud.

Roberts, Andrew - journalist (UK)

Your very sad news came to me via Doug Samuels when I was away - ironically completing the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association Yearbook at, of all places, Sywell - and also seeing the real start of MG production at Longbridge. I am so very sorry and send you my deep felt condolences.

Like everyone else I so enjoyed being in his company and simply listening to him. It was always fascinating to be with him and the time we spent in the BMC transporter at Goodwood last year was truly memorable. Going back to the day of the Octane photo shoot he was so patient and it was a real eye-opener to hear about everything first hand. What amazed me was not only how much he achieved in motor sport, WSMs of course, his aviation exploits and so much else but how much of a well-rounded person he was and, above all, a perfect gentleman. Quite simply, they don't make people like Douglas any more.

Everyone who met him will have their own memories but while there are WSMs he will always be with us in spirit and there can be few better tributes in motoring terms. On a personal basis you will have wonderful family memories to draw upon. Will hopefully catch up somewhere soon. Best regards.

Rose, Richard - aviator (IoM)

I have spoken to a pilot friend who is mailing me the contact details of the secretary of the Association of Manx pilots. I will forward asap. Both John Mangan and myself feel committed to the restoration of your dad’s machine and are determined to complete it for him. It will be a fitting epitaph and help us deal with his loss. Douglas was justly proud of his work and was looking forward to the first flight enormously. I will miss my friend very much. Best wishes to you all at this difficult time.

Scrivener, Colin - neighbour (UK)

I have just read in today's copy of Autosport, rather belatedly, the sad news of the death of your father. I would like to express my sympathies to you and the family at this time. You may recall that we lived at 27/29 Hockliffe Street and I took an interest in his motor sporting activities from the time that I saw his "Monte Carlo" rally cars in the showroom at Delta Garage. After searching my old photos I have attached a couple rather poor photos of what I believe to be a WSM competing at the SODC Woburn Park hill climb in the late 1960s I believe.  Unfortunately I don't know who the driver was. My father, Ken was Secretary of the Meeting for these events and he bought the Delta Workshop from your father when he closed the garage business. Regards and best wishes at this sad time.

Sprinzel, John and Caryl - Sprite doyen (USA)

OH Tony, how very, very sad. At least you did spend a happy time with him just before the end, and that is something to treasure. As you probably know, I lived a long way from my folks for many years, but spent a weekend with them just before my dad passed away (mind you, he was only 60) so at least I had been able to be close before he left. These coming days will have me thinking back to some great times with Doug and our little pet cars. Aloha, John and Caryl (Hawaii)

Thurgood, Julius - racer and raconteur (UK)

What can I say – your Father was a hero to chaps like me and your loss will be shared by all in the HRDC – and across the whole historic racing fraternity. Hopefully I can get Rae out again in the WSM at Mallory – and win this time. My sincere commiserations to you and your family, As ever, Julius

Tickle, Will - family friend (IoM)

This is one e-mail that I never wanted to write as it means I have lost a very dear and close friend. I was honoured to have been able to say that both your mum and dad were some of my closest friends. I always felt with the passing of Laurette that Douglas was a little lost. He NEVER complained, in fact I don’t think that word was in his vocabulary. He was always such a positive person and always getting into mischief (that is man talk for having fun). If you remember he was planning another trip to France. Where he got the energy and enthusiasm for life from I just don’t know but they were both unique people and I have no doubt that they are both looking down on us and itching to give us good advice. They both just wanted to help. In all my 66+ years they were the closest couple I have ever known. We always had fun and I will sadly miss them both. In fact he is going to be a very difficult person to replace in ones friends. It is not often that I’m lost for words to say but in this instance I am completely lost. Jane had already told me the time and dates for Douglas’s funeral and I had said that both Pat and myself will be attending. If there is anything either of us can do just please tell us and it will be done. I am thinking of you all on this very very sad occasion.

P.S. Anthony, I think that it’s a brilliant idea to have two of his cars “The Wuzzums” outside the church. FANTASTIC. It’s a shame really you cannot have his plane there as well. I hope you have been able to arrange the fly pass.

Way, Mark - racer (UK)

All good things come to pass eventually, nevertheless it is sad to learn about your father. I think a complete era of innovative car design by entrepreneurs such as your Dad is fast coming to a close, and we’re unlikely to see it repeated. He had the best of times, unfettered by todays pointless regulation and bureaucratic interference, and we’ll not see his like again.

Webb, Paul and Yvette - Colmworth Classic Cars and friends (UK)

We were both very saddened to hear the news about Douglas. He was an exceptional man and we feel very proud to have known him and to have spent time with him. He never lost his 'need for speed' and was a pleasure to spend time with. We both have many happy and fond memories of him and were always enthralled by his recollections from a golden era of motor sport of which I am sure you will be proud of the part he played in pushing design forward with what would have been seen by some at the time as radical ideas.
We are sure you must take heart, as you should, in your efforts and enthusiasm in keeping the WSM name and exploits both past and present in peoples minds. You are now writing the next chapter of the history of the marque. Your dad was very proud of you for what you are doing and what you have done and had often expressed this, maybe not to you directly but that is perhaps a trait of his generation, but be assured that he was very proud of you. Thanks to all the work that you have put into researching the history of the cars, your fathers memory and achievements will live on for a very long time.
We are glad that Douglas has had the chance in the past few years to see his creations used and enjoyed in the way that he had intended, rather than them becoming museum pieces or rotting away and being lost forever, for which we are sure he took great heart, enjoyment and satisfaction. There can not be many marques which can boast of such a high survival rate. Like many others who knew Douglas we will miss him greatly and would be honoured if you would allow us to attend his funeral and pay our respects. Our thoughts are with you and your family at this sad time.

Paul has just rung me and conveyed your news. I am so sorry to hear about your dad and I hope that it was peaceful for him. He was a truly remarkable man, I always loved to talk to him and feel blessed to have known him. Take care xx

Wilmart, Christophe - race organiser/journalist (F)

It was with great sadness that I learned that "the old boy" had left us. I realise that words can do little to ease your sorrow at this difficult time but just wanted you to know that you have all my love.

Last time I met with Douglas was at Goodwood and we spent time speaking about his designs, his projects, I pulled your legs with him about your engineering abilities and it was really funny moments I will always cherish. I loved him, his sense of humour and it was amazing to see how proud he was to see your interest and your passion about his cars.

All my thoughts are for you and your family. I hope you will find the strength to cope with it as well as you can, and that you will find some comfort from the support of your friends and family. With all my love mon ami

Wylie, Michael - Spridgeteer (NI)

I am so sorry to hear your sad news, and understand how brave it is of you to keep us informed of your father's passing.   I have always had the greatest of admiration for your Dad, and in our particular field of motoring, we will miss him deeply.   My special memory of him is that he had such a contented look on his face when he was in the midst of the paddock scene with the cars, drivers, and mechanics.   He was a lovely gentleman in every sense, and I commiserate with you, and your family, in your time of great loss. Yours sincerely, Michael.