Diarmuid Downs

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Sir Diarmuid Downs CBE, KSG,[1] FRS, FREng,[2] FIMechE (23 April 1922 - 12 February 2014[3]) was a British automotive engineer.

Early life[edit]

He was born in 1922 in London where his father ran a small engineering business manufacturing equipment for the oil industry. Downs was educated at Gunnersbury Catholic Grammar School and the Regent Street Polytechnic, London.[4] He then studied at Northampton Engineering College, London, where he graduated with First Class honours in 1942. He won a postgraduate bursary for further research and study, which he took up with Ricardo and Co.


For his first 15 years with Ricardo & Co., first as student, then as a member of staff, and from 1947 as Head of the Petrol Engine Department, Downs pursued a study of fundamental study of abnormal combustion phenomena in the petrol engine, resulting in a clearer understanding of the problems of knock and pre-ignition.

Downs was made a Director of Ricardo in 1957. He was made Managing Director ten years later, remaining in this position until 1984. He was Chairman of the company from 1976 to 1987.[5]

Downs served as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1978 and as President of FISITA, the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies, from 1978 to 1980.[6] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1985.[7] He was elected a Fellow[8] for the Royal Academy of Engineering[9]


  1. ^ Association Members -Website of the Association of Papal Orders in Great Britain
  2. ^ "List of Fellows". 
  3. ^ "Sir Diarmuid Cbe Frs Downs". The Argus. 18 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  4. ^ http://heritage.imeche.org/historyimeche/pastpresidents/president/SirDiarmuidDowns.htm
  5. ^ Ricardo Consulting Engineers
  6. ^ International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies
  7. ^ "Fellows". Royal Society. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "List of Fellows". 
  9. ^ "List of Fellows". 
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Hugh Ford
President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Succeeded by
James Gordon Dawson