John ('J.B.') Fenton (1931- ) had a childhood in Darlington and Harrogate (UK) and was educated at Oundle School and Manchester University. He joined General Motors' first graduate recruitment scheme at the corporation's UK Vauxhall subsidiary in Luton, after vacation-jobs at optical precision engineers Kershaws in Leeds, specialist car-makers Jowett in Bradford and structural-steel-workers Atkinsons of Harrogate. After GM, the rest of his working life was also spent in or around the UK motor industry.
Possibly his most interesting professional engineering work was as a development engineer with automotive industry consultants (and former racing car constructers) E.R.A. in Dunstable. Here he was involved in developing the advanced 1500 cc rear-engine six-seater car for BMC aimed at market-positioning just above the successful Issigonis-designed Mini and 1100/1300 models. The car was to rival Citroen's DS19 model and would have been produced instead of the less successful Maxi and 1800 designs, but for their originator's persistent resistance to allowing alternative system-layout options for larger car models
Later in his career he was awarded an MSc for a specialist C.V. design, after a year's research at the College of Aeronautics, Cranfield, which he attended after serving as Assistant Manager Cars and Commercial Vehicles (C.V.s) at Unilever Ltd, where he had co-operated in the corporation's pioneer work in frozen-food transport development. From that point he was involved in industrial/technological publishing, editing the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' Automotive Engineer magazine and its predecessor Automotive Design Engineering. These years were interspersed by short periods, of teaching automotive body design at Hatfield Polytechnic, and as Product Affairs Manager in the publicity departments of BL's Truck, Bus and Special Products divisions.
After retirement he confounded Britain's 'two cultures' educational norm and changed course to take up his economic and social history interests via a two-year access-to-the-humanities course, followed by a three year Open University study, for a B.A. degree. This led to five years research at Birkbeck, University of London, which became the subject of his latest book, 'New Ways for Indigenous manufacturing'. In it he makes a strong case for the re-direction of national and industrial cultures that he sees as vital, alongside the currently proposed political and economic changes, to achieve significant reduction in youth unemployment.