Context and Social History 1

Context and Social History 1. Price Relativit


The editors feel that it is important that history and events are seen in context of the era and in some relativity to the present.

For this reason we will include a number of articles that touch on Lotus development and communicate a wider cultural feel for the period.

One of the most important comparisons is with prices and hence affordability. Cost is also a measure of input and the craft skills required. Furthermore the achievements of Lotus can be seen to reflect their technological input, labour time and been seen in relative competition success against rivals.

The Allen brothers contributd a relatively vast amount in assisting the construction of the original MkVI. This may have been over a £1000.When this is seen relative to house prices and wages it is a more comprehensive analysis .Further more it illustrates the extent to which Colin was helped, the complexity of the cars he constructed and in turn why they proved so devastating against the opposition .Further more extended analysis might now also be drawn when Lotus were able to take on works cars like Porsche.

In period

In 1956 David Scott-Moncrieff recorded in “Lotus Salad” [Motor Sport, September 1956].
“At that time it was believed that an Mk.VI could be built for an outlay of about £450 on bits and pieces. I did some costing, but gave up when the sum total exceeded £600; as we did not have that much money.”
Lotus advertisements of May 1953 [Motor Sport] quoted prices of:

Chassis £110
Body £75

Whilst articles of the period [Autosport of October 2nd 1953] suggested a car comprising a Ford 10 engine with hood and screen plus full weather equipment and all new materials could be built for £425.Autocar in mid 1953 suggested £400 including labour.

Wages and Salaries etc c1951

In order to ascertain the relative cost and indeed the value of the Mk.VI the editor has researched the census figures for the period
The percentages amongst the population were:

Lawyers and company directors 3.3%
Teachers and farmers 18.3%
Skilled foremen and electricians 49.5%
Partly skilled 16.4%
Unskilled 12.4%

In 1952 a twenty year old apprecentice working in London might earn £5-3-2 for a forty four hour week pa. [Standard rates of pay in Traders Handbook 1952]

In 1953/54 a graduate teacher might earn £511-766 pa. Rents were about £4.00 per week and average house prices in 1954 might range from £1800-2500] see illustrative material.

The editor includes some new car prices so further comparison can be made. A Ford special of the era might have cost about £250 to construct and poses the question was the M.VI worth the extra cost in terms of performance? However once the Mk.VI had entered competition it possibly made other rivals obsolete and therefore other competitors were forced to this option to remain in contention. Lotus was commanding a premium.

It seems that the Mk.VI retained its value extremely well and second hand examples did not depreciate significantly through the 1950’s. See various advertisements particularly in Motor Sport for the Chequered Flag etc.

Cost adjustments 1952-2002

By the editors calculation the price of the Mk.VI [£450c 1952] would equate with £7,200 in 2002.These figures also indicate relative affordability to occupation .This would also be the retail price for a Caterham 7.
The rarity of an original Mk.VI restored might command from £12-20,000.An unrestored example may fetch £6-7,000.

Author.. John Scott-Davies