Colin Chapman Museum and Education Centre Newsletter  May 2013  

 Newsletter – Number  42

  1. Lotus photos you may not want to see!
  2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of: Automobile Museum of Malaga
  3. Questions from our readers
  4. Design Centre Awards 2013
  5. Peaks and Trough – The Long and Winding Road Series
    5.1 Design Heroes: Buckminster Fuller
  6. Lotus Books: One for the Library
  7. Film Review
  8. Lotus Collectables
  9. Lotus Interest on Youtube

1. Lotus photos you may not want to see!

Thanks to Andy Humphries for these rather sad photos of an Elan 2+2 he’s spotted whilst walking in the Emsworth/Westbourne area.

Emsworth Elan 2+2 Emsworth Elan 2+2

2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of: Automobile Museum of Malaga


Located in the spectacular building “La Tabacalera”, an old Tobacco Factory built in 1923, this space is presented as a fantastic combination of history, art and culture really close to the Malaga Port. An extraordinary collection of more than 94 vehicles, divided into 10 themed areas. A walk through the past, present and future through prototypes as Hydrogen or Compressed Air, luxury models that represent great makes: Hispano Suiza, Bugatti, Delage, Packard, Auburn, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Mercedes, Ferrari.


3. Questions from our readers

Dear Sirs,

I am a 70yr old researching work that I have been associated with in the past, and was wondering if you could help.

In the early 1960’s whilst working for a Company called Microcell in Camberley, Surrey  I had the task of making tooling for a Lotus racing car body shell out of Glass Fibre, at the time Stirling Moss was driving for you, whom I met when he visited the factory, at that time I also made Stirling Moss’s bath for his flat in London.   

What I would like to know is, was this shell ever used on one of the racing cars, was it the first Glass Fibre shell that Lotus used or designed, and is there a photograph of it.

Hope you can help.

4. Design Centre Awards 2013

Introduction and Context

This article reports on the 2013 awards and invites our subscribers to attend.

Colin Chapman and Lotus are industrial designers of note.

Their design brief has encompassed:

  • Racing cars across the spectrum
  • Road cars
  • Bicycles
  • Consultancy
  • Furniture
  • Motor boats
  • Micro lights
  • Engines
  • Engineering design, aerodynamics and electronics

They are no strangers to awards. Amongst their achievements are:

  • 1975 Elite approved for exhibition in Design Council
  • 1991 Elan wins British Design Council Award
  • 2002 Lotus achieves Queens Award to Industry
  • 2001 Elise “Best Drivers Car” Autocar
  • 2003 Elise “Car of the Year 2003” UK Horizon TV
  • 2004 Elise “Best Sports Car” Top Gear

The Design Museum is not lacking in sympathy or unaware of the aesthetic of the automobile. Previous exhibitions include:

  • 50 Years of the Jaguar E type [2011]
  • Formula I the Great Design Race [2006]
  • The E type Jaguar –Story of a British Sports Car [2004]
  • F.Bertonis Design For Citroen

Transport remains one of the design categories.

Therefore its felt fully appropriate to support an event that contributes culturally, technologically and to wealth creation.

Peter Collard Curator of the Design Museum comments

“Designs of the Year is the Design Museums authoritative review of the most innovative, forward thinking and culturally relevant projects from the last twelve months………collectively they offer a snapshot of contemporary design today and present possible future directions for the designs of tomorrow”

Our subscribers can visit the Design Museum website if unable to travel in person.

Subscribers may wish to note that a major article by the A&R is in preparation relating to Colin Chapman and furniture design.

Location and Connections

The locations are:

Design Museum
28 Shad Thames

Tel: 0207 940 8790

Visitors might like to note the additional and complementary sites in close proximity:

  • The Shard* at LondonBridge [designed by Piano] and nominated for award
  • The Textile and FashionMuseum, 83 Bermondsey St, SE1 3XF
  •  A Room for London at the South Bank Centre [also nominated]
  • Clapham One Library Building* [easy access via underground Clapham Common Station] also nominated

*See editors photographs


The Designs of the Year 2013 is being held between 20 March and 7 July 2013.

The Categories

  • Architecture
  • Digital
  • Fashion
  • Furniture
  • Graphics
  • Product
  • Transport

99 designs are spread over 7 categories.

Nominations:  Brief selection by editors

Category Ed Selection Designers
Architecture A Room for London D.Kohn Architects with Fiona Banner
Architecture BookMountain, Nether’ MVRDV, Netherlands
Architecture Clapham One Library Studio Egret West
Architecture Kukje Gallery, S Korea SO-IL, USA
Architecture The Shard, London R.PianoBuilding Workshop
Architecture Tour Bois- le- Pretre, Paris Durot, Lacation, Vassal.
Digital Dashilar App Nippon Design Centre
Digital Light Field Camera Lytro
Fashion Anna Karenina Costumes Jacqueline Durran
Furniture A-Collection R& E Bouroullec
Furniture Future Primitives Muller Van Severen
Graphics Bauhaus -Art as Life A Practice for Everyday Life
Graphics Dekho: Conversations Codesign, India
Product Cast iron kitchenware Jasper Morrison
Product Child Vision Glasses CVDW & Goodwin Harr dwin Hartshorn
Product Papafoxtrot Toys PostierFerguson.
Product W 127 Lamp Dirk Winkel
Product WREX 3-D printed arms Tariq Raham & Whitney Sample
Transport Air Access Priestmangoode
Transport Donkey Bike Ben Wilson
Transport Mando Footloose Bicycle Mark Saunders
Transport N-One Car Honda

Merchandising and Design Museum Shop

This exhibition is supported by an excellent and eclectic merchandising with comprises books, scale models of iconic furniture, postcards and design memorabilia.

The architects and industrial designers particularly well represented are:

  • Z. Hadid
  • R.Piano
  • Kenneth Grange
  • Abram Games
  • Charles and Ray Eames
  • Joe Colombo
  • The Bauhaus
  • Ron Arad
  • British Modernist Architects
  • Verner Panton
  • Ettore Sottsass Jnr

There is also a wide selection of books relating to fashion and illustrating London’s architecture that also serves to promote tourism.

The Proposed CCM&EC

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. Its suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In particular the CC proposed CCM&EC is well placed and disposed to conducting design based exhibitions embracing integrated technologies and design. It would be able to take historical examples and project these into future perspectives. The Designs of the Year 2013 has a leaning towards sustainability and this would be prominent theme easily embraced within the Chapman design methodology. Furthermore it would be expected to have working examples, demonstrations and interpretation linked to education opportunities


It’s self evident that this is an exhibition worth attending. It’s affordable, accessible and informative. As noted some of the significant nominations can be seen first hand and taken in during the visit.

Websites permit and complementary with this article a full appreciation of design trends.

The nominations are international and concerns of social conscience are not overlooked.

The editors particularly liked the accompanying merchandise. Many of the design pieces are now collectable and beyond the means of many or are in museums however the beautifully illustrated books and models allow us to touch and be inspired. They are totally integrated and support the ongoing continuum of design and related problem solving.

Although Lotus is not represented in the very best of design there is a thread that links to Chapman’s concern for lightness, function and elegance. At its core the very principle of economy and sustainability.


Contemporary Furniture.K-J Semback.The Design Council.1982

Modern Furniture Classics Since 1945.C&P Fiell.Thames and Hudson.1991

20 c Design. Judith Miller. Mitchell Beasley.2009.
ISBN: 9781845335137

Collectables 20th Century Classics published by New Holland.2011
ISBN: 9781847739667

Collecting Design. A Lindermann.Taschen.2010.
ISBN: 978836519939

20th Century Furniture.F&K Baker.Carlton.2000
ISBN: 1858687594

Modern Furniture Classics.F&K Baker.Carlton.2000
ISBN: 9781847328151

Catalogue of the Exhibition


Design Museum:
Textile and Fashion Museum:


5. Peaks and Troughs [The Long and Winding Road Series]

Recently Caterham Cars commissioned a survey of the best and worst drivers roads in the Uk. Previously they had also examined another set of ten roads, that was published in their journal “Caterham Life”

The best roads are listed below and we believe that the choice is equally relevant to classic sports car and Lotus owners. The worst are totally predictable and we won’t waste space.

Interestingly the routes selected fall into some patterns and concentrations and therefore perhaps form the basis of a motoring holiday.

Britain has some great roads and the selection passes through some of our exceptional National Parks with their stunning and contrasting landscape and scenery.

We hope that our subscribers will take advantage of these recommendations and perhaps will forward us our driving experience.

Road From To Nickname Special Features
A57 Sheffield Glossop SnakePass Peak Distr’ National Pk
A18 Isle of Man Mountain S’
A35 Lyndhurst Christchurch New Forest National Pk
A87 Invergarry Isle of Skye Passing loch’s
A537 Macclesfield Buxton
A686 Penrith Alston Carlisle
A817 Lock Lom’ Garelockh’
A4086 Llanberis Caernarfon Snowdonia National Pk
B3223 Dulverton Lynton Exmore National Pk
B4100 Warwick Banbury
A68 Corbridge Edingburgh
Kirby-m-side Catleton York Moors
A272 Petersfield Uckfield
B4368 Craven Arms Kerry
A835 Ullapool Maryburgh
A483 Oswestry Land’Wells
B660 Bedford Glatton
BeachyHead Coast road
A54 Congleton Buxton

Subscribers may also like to see our series  “The Long and Winding Road” in which we examine driving opportunities, Articles include “Ode to the Road” the A272, Portmerion [associated with “The Prisoner”] that we couch and explain in the context of the drive across the English border through mid Wales.

See also   “A Seven to the Seaside”

We are always pleased to hear from our international subscribers about their local drives. These deepen and enrich our experience and provide opportunities for tourism. Additionally they provide knowledge to a wider audience that may not have the privilege of a car or the ability to travel.

Please always drive with safety in mind and be respectful of the environment. Don’t go mad but certainly go right around the bend.

The Proposed CCM&EC.

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with an educational programme.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for the promoting products and services that are consistent and complementary with the Chapman methodology of mechanical efficiency and sustainability.

Written into our Business Plan are extensive proposals for a database to assist customer’s book holidays, accommodation, finding historic and or Lotus based destinations, classic car hire and assistance with route planning and the best drivers roads.


AA Large Scale Britain Road Map.
Ordinance Survey Maps


5.1 Designers Series



The A&R has argued that Colin Chapman ought be considered Industrial Designer of International repute. This has not always been the case but we hope to rectify this omission by a series of articles and benchmarking.

Martin Pawley’s book makes a similar case for Buckminster Fuller. In this article we will compare ad contrast both men and allow our subscribers to make their own evaluation.

In his list of design heroes of the 20c Pawley includes or referees to:

  • Raymond Loewy
  • Harley Earle
  • Ettore Sottass [only designer not to be involved in motor cars]
  • Tom Karen
  • Colin Chapman

In his introduction to Buckminster Fuller he states:

“Colin Chapman, who founded a high performance automobile legend that he used every resource, even forbidden ones to keep out of the hands of corporate predators until he died”

 There are many similarities with Chapman especially regarding technology crossover, lightweight structures and mutation of aeronautical technology and construction method. Both men were also:

  • Radical free thinkers and visionaries
  • Designers
  • Engineers
  • Proponents of efficiency
  • Characterized by “more for less” philosophy

Pawley concludes the purpose of his series is to examine:

“Through the lives and works of designers like these, the series “Design Heroes” will change our understanding of what those men and women did who truly learned to make more production out of less work- by design.”

This is an accurate and true epitaph of Colin Chapman.

Richard Buckminster Fuller [1895-1983]

Is considered to be an American:

  • Architect
  • Engineer
  • Author
  • Designer
  • Inventor
  • Entrepreneur
  • Futurist philosopher and by some a visionary [a cosmic Quixotic?]

He was perhaps an unconventional design engineer. He possessed perhaps some contradictory qualities. However he did look to technology to solve problems. In the editors estimation Buckminster Fuller was entrepreneurial in his search and response to opportunities. Although not formally trained in architecture he has become a seminal influence in 20c design.

He is considered by many to be prophet of sustainability. Certainly his design mantra was “More for less” or re expressed as “ maximum advantage with minimum of energy”. In his career he designed:

  • Houses e.g. “Lightful House” concept [see Dymaxion below].”Full of light, light weight and delightful”
  • Cars e.g. The Dymaxion I, II, and III
  • Boats
  • Development “games “ or programmes
  • Transmitters
  • Geodesic domes
  • Promoted solar and wave generated energy

He was a product of the late 18 and early 20c when engineering and technology interfaced with manufacturing to create wealth and in some respects extend liberty. Brunel was one of the model engineers for whom conquest of physical barriers had commercial advantage. Buckminster Fuller would have been aware and aligned with the events of the early 20c. These included:

  • Mass markets
  • The First World War –the use and role of Military technology and the role of mass production
  • The Great Depression and Wall Street Crash of the 1920’s.
  • The development of aviation technology both military and civilian e.g. The Graf Zeppelin and later the Douglas DC3 [known in Europe as Dakota]
  • Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor’s dynamic and response making and responding to mass markets and consumption
  • Structural engineering achievements in steel and fero- the Buffalo Grain elevators/ silos.
  • The design ethos of the early 20c modernist/ functionalist architects like Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius who were attempting to integrate engineering technology into architecture and town planning etc.

Pawley’s interpretation of Buckminster Fuller’s vision is that

“……….Human inventive ingenuity could be pitted against the exhaustion of resources and injustice of poverty to produce more by design than existed in nature…………..”

Buckminster Fuller undertook war service during the First World War and one of his first products was the Stockade Building system of lightweight weatherproof and fireproof housing materials. In the early 1920 Buckminster Fuller was in his mid 20’s and suffered the sad death of his daughter. Possible through the bereavement and introspection he emerged with philosophy of life and design .He adopted a design code that embraced the 4 Dimensional [4D]. “4D” stood for “four- dimensional” thinking. Thinking in time rather than just space with an element comprising the consequence for humanity. Some critics have suggested that the “4D” manifesto/ methodology has a comparison with “ Towards a New Architecture”.  Buckminster Fuller is also widely known through his publishing and authorship. In particular:

  • “Shelter” Magazine which may have been supported by SSA [Structural Study Association]
  • “Nine chains to the Moon’ a highly idiosyncratic work that alluded to recycling etc.

This is possible the root of his green credential along with his concern for energy efficiency, and finding ways to do more with less. Buckminster Fuller is thought to have recommended a world electricity network with the potential for cumulative technical advantage that he thought of as synergy.  His buildings aspired to be radically light strong [often alluded to as “tensgrity” structure] and he attempted prefabrication techniques to minimize assembly and reduce costs. He might have inspired aspects of “Drop City”

For all his idealism he has suffered some criticism that many of his practical ideas were adopted by multinationals, the Pentagon and the military and possible had less utopian outcomes than claimed.

In this article we will look at the sources of possible inspiration and analyse his achievements in detail and explore the links with Colin Chapman’s approach.

The Dymaxion House c 1928/29.

The term was drawn from the concepts of dynamism and maximum efficiency. The first design c 1927 was a building comprised a lightweight rectangular structure. Developed under his methodology of maximum advantage with minimum energy it was an innovative system of structural prefabrication. It was applied both to the design of 10 storey high rise blocks and to the prototype or single home suspended by steel ties from a hollow central pylon. This was the “cleaned up” version [c May 1929] comprising a hexagonal plan that achieved the greater publicity and became world famous.

“Construction was based on an observation that housing combines two elements- the hosing of utilities heat, lighting and plumbing; and the housing of people. The first must be strong, well protected and delicately adjusted, the second light and free and more or less temporary…

Steel guys from the top of a rigid tower suspend light walls and floors………..

Weight regarded as governing factor, since the house is conceived in terms of mass production and mass –distribution. Small five room type, complete with furnishing and accessories weighing 6000lbs should sell mass produced at $1,500…

The designer sees the house as a type that may be dismantled, transported, and re erected with comparative ease, even replaced at ten year intervals in much the same way that automobiles are replaced today.”

As with later projects and indeed the UK there may have been government funds for mass housing proposals after the wars to provide housing and perhaps mobilize otherwise redundant labour. The New Deal was also possibly one example where to government sought to manage the economy, address practical concerns and offered incentives. Buckminster Fuller founded “Fuller House Inc” to progress his ideas.

The Dymaxion Cars c 1933.

Some of the concept for the cars might have derived from the “4D Auto-Airplane” c1928. Three Dymaxion cars were built in 1933 and 1934. The concept was based on weight reduction, streamline and an intention they be the cars of the future. The project is believed to have been financed by Philip Pearson. They were registered:

  • FV 453
  • SI 187
  • HF 439

The design comprised:

  • Wingless, tailless fuselage; 5.7m long
  • Hand built traditional coachwork; natural aluminum over ash frame
  • Body form – streamlined monococque aircraft type
  • Near perfect teardrop profile
  • 11 seat body
  • Chrome-molybdenum aircraft steel tube ladder chassis
  • Ford V8 engine rear mounted [80bhp].

For all the futuristic ideals the machine suffered significant inadequacies that included:

  • Control / steering problems over 50mph
  • Braking problems
  • Chassis twist and camber change
  • High tyre wear
  • Visibility problems

Buckminster Fuller was involved with a further car project post war; the D45 but this for various reasons was not progressed.

The Dymaxion Bathroom c1937/38

Buckminster Fuller is believed to have submitted a patent c 1938 for the Dymaxion bathing cabin. This was in fact a prefabricated type moulding

DDU [Dymaxion Deployment Unit]

“Based on a standard cone top 5.5m Butler steel grain bin manufactured for the New Deal farm support programme………… it “involved the design of a new segmental monococque roof to provide headroom and the introduction of windows and a convection ventilation system. Promoted originally as a military module for export to Europe in 1940 ……… the DDU was soon developed into a mass production transportable low cost housing system. Erected first from a temporary mast at its destination, he fully furnished steel unit was used strapped down to a timber pallet base.”

The Wichita House c 1946

“ Using factory- built units this startlingly futuristic house was Buckminster Fullers model of technologically enhanced modern living.” Its inspiration may have been drawn from he following sources:

  • Post war housing shortage and government subsidies to provide housing
  • The labour surplus and skills made available after the war.
  • Pioneering work in prefabricated construction with examples from Brunel to Gropius.
  • A certain rejoicing in machine aesthetic
  • American lead in mass production techniques
  • The consumer concept in widest sense of market and service.
  • The availability of new technology both as assembly but also marketing futurism

Once again Buckminster Fuller was exploring “ a more for less” approach and examining the “structural possibilities of light weight envelopes using tensile metal” along the way the designer was pushing the envelope of industrial design and technological transfer.

The Wichita house was built in Kansas with support from the Beech Aircraft Co. It was in part an evolution of the Dymaxion House. It had a transportable shell structure of sheet curved aluminum alloy panels with sheets of acrylic glazing in a continuous ribbon. The Wichita House enclosed a 1000 sq.ft [93 sq m] circle of climate-controlled space. With a wood floor it comprised less than 200 components including internal partisans. However the fabric covered interior brought domestic warmth to an otherwise austere structure. Its believed the specification may have included fully fitted kitchen, 2 bedrooms 2 Dymaxion bathrooms [see above] and weighed an estimated 3500 klg. The basic unit is thought to have cost $1800 per unit and total retail price including site, assembly, labour and delivery in the USA $6500. [Useful research would be to discover comparable prices of alternative units in the UK and USA; some sources suggest that a conventional American equivalent may have been $12,000]

Pawley states:

“Between the lowly DDU and the technological tour de force of the Wichita house there appears to be a much larger gap than there is in reality, for although the Wichita house used a much larger number of components and was built of aircraft duralumin instead of steel, it embodied exactly the same structural principles………….was the consummation of all Buckminster Fuller had learned about dwelling design and industrial production…”

The Geodesic Domes

Note the comparison with an igloo.

Its believed that Buckminster Fuller was employed at the Black Mountains College in the 1930’s.Here “New Deal “ and Bauhaus ideas might have permeated and inspired and coalesced with previous experiments. Later on Buckminster fuller was at the Massattusis Institute of Technology

There is very strong evidence that the geodesic dome was invented earlier by Walter Bauersfeld in Germany, and that he took a patent .His dome was build for Carl Zeiss c 1926. Buckminster Fuller also borrows/ incorporated ideas from    Kenneth Snelson. However it was Buckminster Fuller who lodged the patent in the US in 1954 and the time / technology was possibly more receptive.

A geodesic dome is a spherical or part spherical shell structure or lattice shell based on network of circles [hence geodesic] on the surface of the sphere. The geodesics intersect to form triangles [see Colin Chapman and chassis design]

It was essentially a radically strong, light “transgrity” structure, ultra lightweight capable of using aluminum tubes and stretch resistant aircraft control wires and other state of the art aircraft industry materials and methods and of course other materials.

Buckminster Fuller full appreciated the structural efficiency and was aware that “ a good index of performance of any building frame is the structural weight required to shelter sq ft from the weather.” His geodesic dome was tiny fraction of conventional wall and roof design. However it should be noted that the dome construction can be wasteful in other respects and that much of the floor space cannot be practically utilized,

It represented, and expressed the Buckminster Fuller design methodology of:

  • High strength to weight ratio
  • Inherent stability
  • A sphere encloses greatest volume with the least surface area

Some of the most famous geodesic domes are:

  • 1960’s “Cloud Structures”
  • Tetrahedronal City
  • Expo 67
  • “Now House” for United Nations Habitat exhibition, Vancouver 1976.
  • “Triton City”
  • Carry through to the Eden Project.
  • Military applications.

Others significantly assisted Buckminster Fuller. These included Isamu Noguchi and Shoji Sadao.

Colin Chapman and Richard Buckminster Fuller Compared.

We need not repeat Chapman design methodology here. [It is see out clearly in A&R articles particularly “Motoring Icons of the 20C”].

Fundamentally what both men shared was that they were Industrial Designers who combined and embraced engineering, designers, inventor, adaptors of cross over technologies and entrepreneur which they directed to efficiency and performance. Restated this is the green agenda. The elimination of waste and the extraction or exploitation of highest yield or output with the minimum of resources and input.

Both men demonstrated this most convincingly in structural design. Buckminster Fuller through his geodesic dome and limited successful car and Chapman in his space frame chassis [which shared much in terms of triangulation] and later monocoque chassis. Further more the Chapman methodology had further results as the application of his principles used fewer raw materials, used smaller engines and with aerodynamic bodies consumed less fuel.

Both men were entrepreneurs wishing to bring products to the market place. Buckminster Fuller through his utility homes and domes and Chapman in his race /production cars, motorboats and early exploration of micro lights. Both men suffered set backs and relative failure but learnt and moved on.

Both men shared other characteristics too,  to a greater or lesser extent.

Martin Pawley in his book made a case for Buckminster Fuller that his achievements might have been underestimated. There seems to be a near universal denial and diminishing of the achievements of engineers possibly because of the very practicality, utility and their solution based design.

The editors cannot but feel that much that has become “culturally valuable” is really rooted in scarcity and hence to price and not on the intellectual and aesthetic content.


In this article we have explored in detail the career and achievements of one of the worlds greatest Industrial Designers and proponents of sustainability. This has provided the opportunity to benchmark Colin Chapman and to make the case for his greater public acknowledgement. The editors consider that Chapman is worthy of acceptance as a leading Industrial Designer and that based on objective assessment stands equal to his peers such as Buckminster Fuller.

We invite our subscribers to make their own assessment and comment.

In future issues we will continue the practice of benchmarking taking international examples both from motor racing and wider design fields including architecture and furniture.

The Proposed CCM&EC

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. Its suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In particular there will be opportunities coinciding with specific exhibitions. As Colin Chapman is considered an Industrial Designer it will be appropriate that his achievements be seen and benchmarked in the context of his peers. This will create natural opportunities for related merchandising on a dual level basis and resultant increased income.


Buckminster Fuller. Martin Pawley. Trefoil Publications.1990.
ISBN:0862941601[This book has an excellent bibliography and ought be referred to]

Oxford History of Art: Design in the USA.J.l.Meikle.Oxford. 2005

20C Design.J.M.Woodham.Oxford University Press.1997



6. Book Review

Date :/11/2012
Title: Speed with Style
Author: Peter Revson with Leon Mandel
Publisher &Date: William Kimber.1974
ISBN: 0718304438
A&R library copy: Yes

This is a very sad but well written and articulate book. It does what is says on the tin. Sad because Peter Revson died so soon after its completion on 22nd March 2004 whilst testing in South Africa. Its evident he was gifted and had much to offer the world. His book recalls many of the other fatal accidents in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Relatively short at 220 pages its graphic and there are many superb quotations.

The editor considers that it is so well written it forms the basis of a film or documentary. The study is full of cameo personality observations like that on Danny Folson:

“In a tribe that is filled with transients, permanence is measured in minutes “

Its interspersed with a nice selection of black and white photographs.

Throughout there are many overlays and reference to Lotus. Revson was an accomplished driver and there are extended descriptions of racing in FI, CanAm and Indianapolis.

Revson talks candidly and mentions politics in a way that other drivers don’t or skate over. He discussed John Delorean and Lotus sponsorship and financing. Taken altogether this is not just a list of race results and car set up specifications.

Revson tells us he is from a Jewish background and part of the Revlon cosmetics empire. However he is not a playboy. We learn briefly about family values, hereditary and religion.

Peter came to England in 1963 and drove a Cooper he mentions that a Cosworth engine was  $1800 .He gives examples of race payments. In 1966 he drove a Ford GT40.

“It was a very well balanced car. Very easy to drive .It responded beautifully. Until then I had never driven a sports car that handled quite as well, as forgivingly or as controllably as that one. It stopped well, and for a car of its size and weight it was comfortable to drive”

Revson is brave enough to make an observation on the political situation in South Africa. Additionally and counterpoised he describes the sights in a Game Reserve. He also comments on betting which is not usually mentioned and perhaps something of a taboo in some circles

The story is told in general chronological order and we learn about formal protests and appeals. Not much changes in motor racing.

Throughout Revson captures the era in graphic authenticity particularly with many of the unspoken realities and team politics. Some of Revson’s descriptions of the mechanics world ties in with “Team Lotus”  [see A&R review]

Following a crash he comments:

“He hasn’t even looked inside to see if I got out”

Of Teddy Mayer and Indianapolis he observes:

“ A crisp emotionless, staggeringly efficient man; just the thing that was needed to unravel the parochial tightly guarded mysteries of the world’s richest race, which, for all its bulging purse, was still held in an Indiana cornfield” p93 and

The winner of Indianapolis in 1970 could expect to win approximately $100,000.

Revson provides and excellent extended description of Indianapolis racing and amongst this is the basis of film/ documentary. Of the crowds he almost poetical describes: –

“Capris and beehives, Levi’s and beerbellies”bawling babies and shrieking teenagers- sullen, cheering, weeping, drunken, shouting, vomiting, pushing, trampling ….” And later ……….

“Great patches of empty seats, like lichen on a rain –splotched cliff, in the grandstand”

The author appears honest about his personality, motives and manners.

“ I would hope my style says I am a gentleman; that’s very important to me”

He talks openly about marriage and relationships including that with Marji Wallace [Miss World]

The co-author Leon Mandel talks frankly about the economics of motor racing and the circuits in the era. One quotation might help explain some of Colin Chapman’s perceived ruthlessness: –

“ ……..p176…….The implication is clear: in racing, there is no room for personalities, sentiment, friendship or charity. Its a tough world out there .Its hard enough to survive without the burden of decency to weigh them down”

Summing up “Speed with Style” is a fully appropriate and graphical title for this book. It’s much much, more than the usual regurgitation of race results it provides a keen and cultivated mans insight. It sums up an era beautifully that would change dramatically with increased safety. His death at a young age was a sad loss. It’s certain that Peter Revson could find a life outside the track. The editors commend this work as possibly one of the best of the genre and this era. A concluding quotation perhaps sums up Peter Revson’s aesthetic sensitivities: –

“It’s made up like an exposed sedentary section or a Dobos torte of slice upon slice of sensory experience.”

The Proposed CCM&EC

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. Its suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In particular it’s suggested that the proposed CCM&EC retains a permanent library. That this is available for research and also as a commercial research service.

Additionally books can be retailed including both new and second hand.

Should any of our subscribers wish for more information on any book reviewed please ask.

The A&R editors are always receptive to suggestions for book reviews again please ask we will endeavour to help.



Date: 15/07/2012
Title: Vanwall Victory
Author: C.H.Wood [Bradford] Ltd with possible sponsorship from Hepolite/Grandage
Publisher &Date: Duke Marketing
ISBN / CAT REF ETC: Ref No.3156
Duration:  29 min.
A&R library copy: Yes


The description of this film states

“ This is remarkable and historically significant film from the archives of C.H.Wood”. This is not an exaggeration as the importance is recognised by the National Film Archive and is held on permanent preservation.

Our subscribers will find it totally complementary with the A&R article discussing Chapman and Costin’s contribution to the Vanwall achievement.

This short film also being in colour is graphic and supplements many of the reference books that tended to be in black and white. Further more the moving imagery conveys speed and drama.

Many research students have been unable to trace photographs of the Vanwall works in Acton. The film opens with a brief clip along what might be the Western Avenue with a route master passing by. There is additional footage of the drafting office and Vanwall transporter. The film seems to have been supported by Hepolite and Grandage who appear as suppliers to Vanwall and are listed in the A&R locational plotting of motor sport industry.


There are none in this film and it does not suffer for it; perhaps even improves. There is period perfect commentary from Rodney Walkersley and rousing military band background accompaniment.

Film Clips.

There are two brief inclusions of 1957. These are the British GP at Aintree and Monaco.

Both are well rendered and particularly atmospheric. The editor feels that in some way the essence of motor sport was more revealed in these films before computerisation but this might also be that the circuits seems to possess greater individuality and perhaps the architecture of the scene and their distinguishing features were given prominence along with a relaxed informality through the public. Tony Vandervell, Brooks and Stirling Moss are in evidence

For the editor the technical recoding of the drawing office and the draftsmen using slide rules was important commentary along with the engines both being built and dismantled for evaluation. Equally the use of the transporters to and from the continental circuits is evident along with the temporary pits working out of the transporters.

Vanwall was a highly efficient and disciplined team.

The film can and perhaps can be best understood and interpreted by reading cases studies, biographies and race strategies.

The Value and Importance

This brief film is significant in that:

  • It makes real the contribution of Chapman and Costin
  • It introduces at least visually the main players who might otherwise be just character sketches
  • It has social and technological value highlighting that Vanwall were the cutting edge technology of their generation.
  • The film has cultural value and was perhaps used at the time to promote engineering achievement .It is also well made in an artistic and compositional sense. Some might class it as a mini documentary.
  • It creates context and shows the competitors
  • The film also records the social mores of the time touching on fashion, taste and behaviour. It should not be overlooked that it captures an era passed.

The editors commend it to our subscribers and particularly both the social and engineer interested in the context of the era.

The Proposed CCM&EC

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. Its suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In particular we propose selling film and related archive matter. This will be complemented my film shows, film evenings and themed mini display exhibitions etc.

Please note that the A&R can make film it holds available for research.

Additional Reference:

Motor Racing: The Recodes .Ian Morrison

8. Lotus Collectables

Alan Stacey

Lotus 16 – Alan Stacey

9. Lotus interest on Youtube

One item on Youtube maybe of interest our readers

Lotus Elise – The Inside Story


Thank you for your continued  interest and support

Editors of the newsletter

John Scott-Davies
Neil Duncan
Jamie Duncan (webmaster)