Peter Collins Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Three albums of photographs, clippings, drawings and correspondence, relating to the life and racing career of Peter Collins.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born November 6 1931, the son of a successful Kidderminster motor trader, Peter Collins cut his racing teeth in 500cc Formula 3 as a contemporary of Stirling Moss in the immediate post-war years. He partnered Stirling in the precariously financed HWM team in 1951, and dallied with BRM and Vanwall before joining the Ferrari Formula 1 team at the start of the 1956 season. His victories at Spa and Reims put him in a commanding position to challenge for the title, but when team-mate Fangio suffered a steering arm breakage at Monza, Collins voluntarily yielded his own car, something which Italy's Luigi Musso had singularly failed to do a few laps earlier as team order theoretically dictated, allowing Fangio to become World Champion. It was a gesture which guaranteed him enormous affection amongst the passionate Italian motor racing fans, as well as considerable respect from Enzo Ferrari, not a man to become overly sentimental about his drivers.

In 1957, he was joined at Ferrari by Mike Hawthorn and the two men quickly forged a close personal bond, getting up to all sorts of fun with their motor racing. They nicknamed each other 'Mon Ami Mate' after a character in a contemporary newspaper cartoon strip. Although Collins won non-championship events at Syracuse and Naples, there were no Grand Prix victories destined to come Ferrari's way in 1957. Nevertheless, Peter finished a strong third in the German Grand Prix behind Fangio and Hawthorn after the two Englishmen had battled vainly to keep the veteran Argentine at bay on the day of his finest personal victory.

In 1957 Peter married an American actress, Louise King, and together they made a golden couple, living an enviable life-style based on a yacht in Monaco harbour. Despite a shaky start to the 1958 season, Collins took the new Dino 246 to third place at Monaco and then built up the momentum of his World Championship challenge with a commanding triumph in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Two weeks later, the Ferrari Dinos were really up against it battling with the Vanwalls in the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, and whilst fighting to keep pace with Tony Brook's leading car, Collins lost control. In Hawthorn's full view, Collins spun off the road and disappeared over a bank in a cloud of dust. Hawthorn, worried sick, drove on, fearing the worst. He was right to do so. Peter had been thrown out and suffered grievous head injuries. Despite being flown by helicopter to hospital, he died shortly afterwards.

For more information, please see http://www.espn.co.uk/ferrari/motorsport/driver/567.html

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers, by appointment. For further information, please see: nationalmotormuseum.org.uk/Motoring_research_service

Conditions Governing Use

Please apply to the Archivist if you would like to make any copy of the material.

Custodial History

The material was donated to the Trust by Collins' sister.