Cecil Kimber (1888-1945) was an automobile engineer, most famous for his role in being the driving force behind the M.G. Car Company.
He was born in London on 12 April 1888 to Henry Kimber, a printing engineer and his wife Fanny. After attending Stockport Grammar School he joined his father's company and took an early interest in motor cycles buying a Rex model, but after an accident on a friend's machine that severely damaged his right leg he took to cars and in 1913 bought a 10hp Singer. This interest caused him to leave the family firm in 1914 and get a job with Sheffield-Simplex as assistant to the chief designer. During World War 1 he moved first to AC Cars and then to component supplier E.G. Wrigley. He made a large personal financial investment in Wrigleys but he lost this when the company lost heavily on a deal with Angus-Sanderson for whom he had styled their radiator. Wrigley had also been a major supplier to the Morris Motor Company and was bought by them in 1923 and presumably with the help of contacts, Kimber got a job in 1921 as Sales manager with Morris Garages, their agency in Oxford.
While there he developed a range of special bodies for Morris cars eventually leading in 1928 to the founding of M.G. as a separate marque specialising in sports cars. The new company moved from Oxford to Abingdon in 1929 and Kimber became managing director in July 1930. The main shareholder was William Morris himself and in 1935 he formally sold M.G. to Morris Motors which meant Kimber was no longer in sole control and had to take instructions from head office leading to him becoming increasingly disillusioned with his role.
With the outbreak of World War II, car production stopped and at first M.G. was reduced to making basic items for the armed forces until Kimber obtained contract work on aircraft but this was done without first obtaining approval and he was asked to resign and left in 1941.
He soon found other work first with coachbuilder Charlesworth and then with specialist piston maker Specialloid.
He was killed in a freak railway accident at King's Cross railway station, London in 1945. The wheels of the train on which he was travelling kept slipping on a newly replaced section of rail forcing the driver to pull to a stop in a tunnel. Unable to see in the darkness, the driver was unaware that the train had in fact started to slip back down the hill. A signalman, attempting to avert a collision with another train, decided to switch the points however the train was already too far back down the track. With the front and rear of the final carriage effectively running on different parallel lines there was nothing that anyone could do to prevent a collision with a metal signal gantry which proceeded to slice the overturned coach in two. Kimber was one of only two casualties.
Cecil Kimber married twice, first to Irene (Rene) Hunt with whom he had two daughters, Lisa and Jean, and after Irene died in 1938 to Muriel Dewar.
He was elected as President of the Automobile Division of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
- Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. Editor N. Georgano. HMSO, London. 2000. ISBN 1-57958-293-1
- MG Sportscars. Malcolm Green. CLB. 1997. ISBN 1-85833-606-6