Reginald Davis Menadue, known to everyone as Roger, was born in Newquay, Cornwall on August 23, 1912. He was dubbed “Roger” at an early age to avoid confusion with a cousin also named Reginald.
Roger’s relationship with Donald M. Healey CBE (1898-1988) began in 1929 when, as an apprentice mechanic, he accompanied DMH and Lewis Pearce to the Monte Carlo Rally. Later, Roger joined Swallow Sidecar (later to become Jaguar) as a lead mechanic and road test driver of the famous SS 100. During WWII, he helped Great Britain’s war effort in building bombers for the Royal Air Force in Coventry. After the war, Roger again joined the Donald Healey Motor Company, as Chief Experimental Engineer.
At DHMC Roger was responsible for constructing all the prototype models of the Healey-badged cars and later, the prototype Austin-Healeys. He also helped design and build Healey’s competition cars. In 1952, a Nash Healey coupe race car driven in the Mille Miglia by Donald and Geoff Healey suffered a burst tire, which caused a crash and wrecked the car. Roger and assistant Jack Reid rebuilt it as a roadster in two weeks, just prior to the 1952 Le Mans 24 Hour Race. Incredibly, the car finished in third place overall, the highest finish of a Healey-badged car at this grueling competition.
In the 1963 Le Mans race, a DHMC-prepared Sprite coupe won the Motor trophy for first British Car “home”; Roger was named the best mechanic at the event.
At the DHMC, Roger worked under certain conditions, including that he would report to Donald Healey only and not be questioned about his hours. In all his years as a mechanic, Roger never used a torque wrench, depending upon his feel to tighten objects. As a testimonial to Roger’s mechanical skills, Donald Healey often said that, if given a lump of aluminum and a file, Roger could create a perfect piston.
In the early 1970s, when Roger and DMH “retired,” and up until Healey’s death in 1988, they continued to work together on many special experimental projects, including windmill power and closed circuit TV surveillance systems.
About 1990, American Dick Lunney did some research on Roger to find and then contact him. Roger then “resurfaced” and became active in the worldwide Austin-Healey club movement. He was quickly embraced as a friend to many Healey enthusiasts throughout England, Europe, North America, and Australia. Those who had the honor of knowing him valued his sharp memory and genuine, warm personality—and his always present photo album. Roger provided a fascinating image of the British motorcar industry in its heyday. His sense of humor, dignity, skillful storytelling, love of people, and depth of knowledge endeared him to all who knew him. Roger was proud of his Cornish heritage, which included his ingenuity in making do with very little material at hand.
He was predeceased by his wife, Jean. Roger passed away on March 12, 2003 in Newquay.