Moulton Automotive Suspension Systems

Almost as soon as he joined the ‘family firm’ - Spencer Moulton - after the Second World War, Alex Moulton set out a case for the adoption of rubber suspension systems on automobiles. He could see that advances in rubber technology, particularly in the field of rubber to metal bonding, allowed new rubber springs loaded in torsion and shear to be developed - and these were particularly suited to automotive use where the wheel travel was much larger than that of railway carriages.

Moulton’s first automotive suspension design was the Flexitor, a roughly cylindrical device that provided location and articulation by a rubber element loaded in torsional shear. Moulton had designed and patented the Flexitor in 1948 and it found many uses (notably in railway carriage gangway springs where it is still used today), but it was not until the mid-1950s that it was used on a car - or rather a 4x4, the Austin Gipsy. Although this was rather a niche vehicle, by this time the seeds had already been sown for the mass-market adoption of Moulton suspension on passenger cars.

Through his friends David and Jeremy Fry (of Fry’s Chocolate fame), Moulton was introduced to Alec (later Sir Alec) Issigonis. Issigonis was already famous as the designer of the 1948 Morris Minor, but initially he was dismissive of rubber as a suspension medium. After Issigonis left Morris for Alvis, Moulton was able to persuade Jack Daniels (Head of the Research Department at Morris) to equip a Minor with an experimental version of Moulton’s rubber suspension. Arduous testing showed that Moulton’s system was demonstrably more durable than coil springs or torsion bar suspensions, and Issigonis was convinced of its superiority.