Jeff Uren was born 17th October 1925. In his early days, Jeff owned his own Plant Hire Business before embarking on car racing. He gave Ford their first win at Mallory Park in 1958 and went on to win the British Saloon Car Championship in 1959, in his Ford Zephyr. He was to be the first driver to win driving a Ford! During this time Jeff raced various Fords including Anglia, Prefect, 100E, and Cortina Mk1 to name a few. With his Zephyr he held class lap records at Aintree, Goodwood, Brands Hatch and Snetterton. It was his championship win that Ford invited him to become their Rally and Competitions manager for that season.
In 1962 he left Ford to team up with fellow race driver and Ford dealership owner John Willment, based in Twickenham London. Jeff was asked to manage the Willment race team and was soon set the task to prepare a Mk1 1500 GT Cortina. At this time the MK1 wasn’t even announced but with just two weeks before the announcement, Jeff and his team set to work getting hold of a car and getting it prepared to race! The day after, Ford announced their new MK1 Cortina Range, the Willment car won its very first race at Oulton Park! Jeff and the Willment team raced a range of Ford cars including the mighty Galaxies, Falcons, Caroll Shelby Cobras and GT40s to mention a few.
When John Willment gave up racing Jeff went on to set up his own company, 'Race Proved Performance and Racing Equipment Ltd'. This was to launch the now famous SAVAGE!! Around 1000 Savages were made, Cortina’s MK11 – MK4, the 1600E based models being the most popular. 1700 cars in total were converted comprising, the 3 litre Capri (Comanche), 3 litre Mk1 Escort (Apache), 2 litre MK1 Escort (Navaho), 2.5 litre Cortina (Cheetah), 3 litre Granada (Seneca), 5 litre V8 Capri (Stampede) and the 3 litre Transit (Easypower). Contrary to belief Jeff never converted brand new Lotus based cars, but did so if a customer had already bought one and wanted it converted at a later date!
The idea of shoe-horning a big cubic capacity engine in a relativity light body has been tried and tested by many, but it was Jeff’s experience, his extensive development and determination to produce a product that was not being produced by Ford, coupled with his very professional and superb marketing and sales techniques won over to make him, his company and his cars the most well known and famous of them all. Having moved his company to Ashburton Devon in the early 70’s a small number of cars were produced, but production ceased soon after, one reason being the oil crisis. Jeff then formed an interior design company, 'Gracious Living' before retiring from work in the mid eighties. Much has been written over the years with regard to Jeff, his life in motor racing, his involvement with the Ford Motor Company, Willment Racing and of course the creation of the Savage.
I am proud to have had the pleasure to know Jeff, his wife Penny and his son Duncan since 1992, during which time I have been welcomed as a family member. Jeff regarded me as another son giving me valuable advice, help and generosity too! He was an inspiration to all that I have tried to achieve in my life, especially all that I have done with my car, and owning one of his Savages has been a great honour and has given me immense fun and enjoyment too!
After battling against cancer Jeff sadly died on 6th April 2007. He has left a big hole in the lives of all that were close to him, especially his family. He’s very much missed by me, he was a wonderful friend and father figure.
On 22nd October 2009 Penny also died of cancer and will be sadly missed by all her close friends and family.