Colin Chapman Museum and Education Centre Newsletter March 2014
Newsletter – Number 46
- Lotus out and about
- Museums worth visiting
- Questions from our readers
- Lotus books for the library
- The Cool 500
- Lotus Collectables
- Lotus interest on YouTube
All previous articles are held on the website.
1. Lotus out and about
Came across this hanging in George’s Fish bar on Tottenham Lane, N8, just 100 yards away from the old Lotus Showroom.
Signed by Colin.
Thank you Chris Arnold
2. Museums worth visiting
The new Porsche museum stands on a conspicuous junction just outside Porsche Headquarters in Zuffenhausen. The display area covers 5600 square metres featuring around 80 exhibits, many rare cars and a variety of historical models.
The museum was designed by the architects Delugan Meissl. The exhibition spaces were designed by HG Merz
The result is an exhibition that focuses firmly on the vehicles showcased. All ancillary architectural, media and typographic elements are designed to be unobtrusive and complement the cars.
The museum, which is as flexible as it is exclusive, functions as a home base for the vehicles.. This museum is fabulous and its only 8 Euro’s to get
In plus being a short train rode from the centre of Stuttgart.
3. Questions (can you help?) This time a request
We frequently get asked from around the world quite amazing questions , so far we have used a limited group to try and answer them, not always successfully.
So we now put them on our website and see if any “friends” know the answer.
Still many unanswered questions on our website can you help?.
Dear Mr. Duncan,
I thought it might be of some interest to you that I am carrying on from where Colin Chapman left off in the development of his “twin chassis” concept, patented in 1979. It is an idea that has been largely forgotten, but one that I believe is ready to be exploited. I have added and patented a couple of capabilities to Chapman and Wright’s invention that make it truly usable in a road going car. I am now starting the process of finding an automaker interested in developing and integrating the idea.
I have recently purchased a 1995 theodore f1 in bits , (I dont have all the bits !).. I am planning to remodel it as a lotus 95t.i have plentyof photographs, but no scale drawing to work off.Do you know where I could obtain a plan please, or do you have one ?.any help greatly appreciated.
Looking for books on details related to type 23’s. I own serial number 27 and would like to gather some history. I live in the US and race both the 23 and a Brabham BT29 FB.
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
Exhibition Name: England’s Motoring Heritage from the Air
Organization: English Heritage
Address: Wellington Arch, Apsley Way, Hyde Park Corner, London.W1J 7JZ
Dates: 12 Feb-6th July.2014
This is an announcement not a review. The editors have not attended.
This exhibition seems to be drawn from the book which will accompany the exhibition i.e. “England……Air” by John Minnis [ISBN: 9781848020870]
Subscribers might like to read our book review of “Carscapes” which Innis co-wrote and seems to cover similar ground.
It’s interesting that motoring and related engineering that has been overlooked has seen two recent quality publications and this exhibition brought to the public recently.
Industrial archeology has long been a subject for conservation and interpretation. Perhaps it’s being appreciated that the motor car had greater social, demographic and landscape impact and has significant British dimension.
The website has small selection of photographs with some very much in the Firth mould in black and white.
The editors might suggest that the exhibition might be seen in the context of other technological revolutions where one form of transport is replaced by another not least the sailboats, canals and trolley buses. They spawn a new architectural and engineering form specific to their needs requirements and limitations.
Quality exhibitions also allow us to trace cultural phases, and their evolution, birth, maturity and decline.
Those from the Town Planning, Architectural and Civil Engineering professions may be interested in the aspects of transport, the provision and the interrelationships; a good example being the Modernist architecture that accompanied the Great West Road and Western Avenue out of London.
This English Heritage Exhibition has the advantage of being based in London will allow the visitor to see examples first hand with reasonable ease and also enjoy other related Musems such as the London Transport Museum, .Ariel photography has some attractive advantages and the editors suggest perhaps for those unable to attend judicious use of the reference books mentions plus access to Multimap on line will permit valuable research to be undertaken.
The editors believe this to be an important exhibition and perhaps watershed in the overall appreciation of the motorcar and its impact which is not just an American 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. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.
In particular we consider it important to run exhibitions in parallel with another major exhibitions in the UK.This provides additional dimensions and interpretations.It also increases the value for money aspect for visitors and tourists.
Additionally the proposed CCM&EC might be able to provide drive by experience thereby increasing the learning and educational exposure by real participation as opposed to pictorial representation.
Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.
*Items in italics non A&R library books
5. Lotus books one for the library.
NEWEST ACQUISITIONS TO A&R LIBRARY/ BOOK REVIEW.
NEWEST ACQUISITIONS TO A&R LIBRARY/ BOOK REVIEW.
Title: Empire of the Clouds
Author: James Hamilton-Paterson
Publisher: Faber and Faber
A&R library copy: Yes
This is a very important and very relevant book imparting a significant context that surrounds early Lotus history. Its strongly recommended by the editors who suggest it might be read in conjunction with “Lotus –The First Ten Years” by Smith and “Lotus: The Early Years” by Peter Ross. [Both items in A&R library]
“Empire of the Clouds” has several interwoven themes and is generally analytical throughout. Added to which it is written by an individual who lived through the period, who looks back with nostalgia and emotion but also with critical hindsight. The Farnborough air crashes in the1950 are skilfully described in context of the era. Therefore the reader comes away with a deeper and meaningful interpretation of the period. In particular Hamilton- Paterson addresses: –
- The prevailing culture and particularly of a youth’s admiration of the romance, technological advancement and bravery / integrity f the test pilots
- The nature of political economy in a post war mixed economy particularly in relation to a private aircraft sector involved with defence
- There is strong biographical approach to the test pilots
- Pertinent facts and costs that help achieve perspectives/ comparison/ relativity
Throughout there are some excellent descriptive pieces and the editor will quote several of these. The debate about defence spending continues to the present and many of the principles and issues outlined remain relevant. Excellent and extensive sets of note references are made at the end of the book.
Early on Hamilton-Paterson introduces the reader to the main test pilots. These include: –
- John Farley
- John Cunningham
- Brian Trubshaw
- Geoff Tyson
- John Derry
- Neville Duke
- Roland Falk
- Bill Waterton
- Roland Beaumont
- Peter Twiss
- Mike Lithgow
- Eric “Winkle” Brown
Bill Waterton’s life story figures highly in this narrative.
Some of the most notable engineer-designers were: –
- Stanley Hooker
- Archibald Russell
- George Edwards
- Frederick Page
- “Teddy” Petter
- Sir Roy Fedden
These extremely brave courageous men of integrity were frequently ex-RAF pilots and many were engineers. They often earnt during the 1950-s between £1500-2000 per annum. They also paid high tax. There was a high death toll. When others are critical of Colin Chapman this work helps us understand that the aircraft designers were also pushing the envelope. The test pilots performed many roles not least by demonstrating the aircraft to engender sales and exports; thereby creating employment at home.
On several occasions Hamilton-Paterson refers to the period film “The Sound Barrier” by David Lean. This image tended to enter the public psyche but was not the reality as the book details.
“ Empire of the Clouds” is approximately 350pages. It commences with technological developments of the Second World War and not least the German and how the soviets developed the MiG-15. Of importance in the development of UK policy is the socio- economic culture in the transition from war to peace and from command economy to free enterprise. Hamilton- Paterson is critical of the political parties of all shades. Admittedly they had a difficult task and there were many competing considerations of social welfare, political reality and second-guessing as towards enemy technological development and the role of nuclear weapons etc.
Hamilton –Paterson is rigorous in his analysis of the policy role and some of its inadequacy however the editors feel that it’s worth restating and extending some of the factors involved. These include: –
- The diverse and sometimes contradictory competition and rivalry between the stakeholders e.g.: civil service, government ministers, treasury officials and airlines.
- The ability to predict need and an ability to design for this [including specification]
- Secrecy and competition
- Time table and lifecycles of parliaments
- Social costs and taxation and welfare requirements and reconstruction
- Free market – private ownership, negative competition
- “Cost-Plus” accounting and calculations
- Overtones of defence blackmail and fears of nationalisation impacting on investment
- International policy decisions e.g. 1946 McMahon Act in USA
- Geo-politics including land and land values, climate, distance, national boundaries and flying population [many of which favoured America]
- Military/Civilian overlap and subsidy
Hamilton –Paterson sums it up nicely as a combination or blend of duplicity, Whitehall farce and industrial confusion. It would also appear that boffins and accounts were also at odds with the hands on engineers, designers and test pilots. One test pilot JA”Robby”Robinson is quoted as saying the cockpits were “ergonomic slums” and ludicrously inadequate. Often the test pilots advice or requirements were overlooked. There safety was not much of a concern either. Bill Waterton is a hero in Hamilton-Paterson’s eyes but his forthright outspokenness did not endear him to his employers. He eventually effectively became a non-person.
When all of these are factored in clear-cut decisions in the UK would not be easy.
The editors would like to have perhaps seen the details of the actual government /MoD specifications / contract for planes in order to better understand the relationship between the two parties. As continues to the present day e.g. the computers in the NHS. If flaws are contained at this stage its questionable who might be more responsible. Related to this might be issues of spares and anticipated servicing. Hamilton-Paterson notes that the English Electric Lighting required 1000 hours of serving for every hour of flight!!
In the early 1950’s the Meteor is believed to have cost £38,000 or approximately £1 million in 2010.
Hamilton-Paterson also considers that British tooling and equipment was inferior to that of other competitors. The editors can understand this criticism but sadly it might reflect on fear of nationalisation or policy reversals .A climate of investment has to see possibilities of return.
Away from the more serious analysis and detail surround test pilots working practice Hamilton- Paterson paints graphic word pictures of a school boy amazed and exhilarated by the sight and sound of thee beautiful yet aggressive early jets. Both the editors can vouch for similar experience particularly relating to the Vulcan.
Of a conversation between father and son: –
“Not scared exactly? My father asked with slight mockery, not scared exactly just rendered helpless by a majesty even the Second Coming could not hope to emulate”
And later about attending an air show: –
“This is what they had come for after all, the violent music of a new technological era; the future made audible”
Generally the author follows a chronology working from the Hunter in 1951 through the Vickers Viscount of c 1956. Hamilton-Paterson quotes that it earned £6.25million in exports, which is suggested as an equivalent of £1.25 billion in 2010, and in his estimation was Britain’s most successful commercial aircraft.
The author suggests that the VC 10 was a tour de force. He provides some excellent descriptions of the start up procedure for the Lightning.
“On reheat seemed enough to jar the planet from its orbit .We were cocooned in thunder, annihilated by din”
The TRS2, which is still hotly debated today, is discussed and analysed by the author. C 1965 £195 million development costs were written off. Some readers will be appalled but the whole context and relationships recorded will help explain.
Concorde is the last machine discussed. Again Hamilton- Paterson finds graphic statistics and records that the plane cost £1.1 billion in development costs and that translated into 34 million families in Britain and France paying £33 in tax. The whole experience is better understood as a result of this book and in particular the precarious, complex issues beyond technology that frequently impact on economic / commercial success.
To sum up this is a very readable and intelligent work. It is descriptive and analytical. It certainly pertains to the set up period of Lotus at Hornsey and indirectly explains why many of the de Havilland engineers, aerodynamicists contributed so much. As often the case its well researched and written works outside the major subject area that can offer very telling and compelling evidence of the circumstances. In many works about Colin Chapman and Lotus we hear the how; in this work we learn in addition the when, where, what, which and why are brought into clear focus. “Empire of the Clouds” is thought provoking, entertaining, nostalgic and value for money.
This book will be of interest and value to: –
- Students of Colin Chapman and post Second World War motor racing design
- Aircraft designers, accounts and historians
- Drama and documentary writers might find much of post war sociology and culture that underpinned hopes expectations through to careers and perceptions
“Empire of the Clouds” makes frequent reference to air shows at Farnborough and Biggin Hill. As the latter is close to the editors home local research will be conducted and results posted through this site.
Our subscribers might like to cross-reference this with other pieces from the A&R: –
- Colin Chapman, Lotus and Aviation
- Mosquito film review
- The de Havilland and Mosquito Museum review
- Britain Can Make It and The Festival of Britain
- Industrial Designers
- Frank Costin
Machines Featured in “Empire of the Clouds”
|BRITISH AVIATION: EXAMPLES|
|Short||Silver Streak Streak|
|de Havilland||DH 108||Swallow||TG 283|
|Hanley Page||HP 115||XP84|
|Hanley Page||HP 115|
|English Electric||Canberra||BI VN 799|
|de Havilland||DH 106||Comet||I||Emp’75,400||
|The Blackburn Aircraft Co|
|Sopwith Aviation Co|
|The Bristol Aeroplane Co|
|Hawker Aircraft Ltd|
|Nb Bold Italic indicates machines featured in ” Empire of the Clouds”|
The Proposed CCM&EC.
The proposed museum believes that commercial and educational objectives are both a necessity and complementary.
For this reason our business plan includes provision for promoting products that are complementary with the Chapman methodology of mechanical efficiency and sustainability.
Written into our plan are extensive proposals that relate to aviation and in particular micro lights .Our proposals range from books to models to introduction to flying lessons with direct connections to flying schools and clubs. In addition we propose outreach and overlaps with aviation museums. In addition its intended to hold working demonstrations and display pieces to complement school and college curricular etc.
The proposed museum is subtitled the “Exploratory -Laboratory” and our visitors and students will be encouraged to conduct experiments. In particular race simulators will enable students to measure and experience theoretical principles in practice on a look and learn basis.
There are parallels between motoring and aviation. These go beyond engineering .Not least perception and association that influence marketing and owner identification.
Much of the Chapman genius was to recognize parallel technologies and extrapolate between to the two. Only second was his determination to use specialists to extract the best possible design and performance.
The A&R appreciates the importance of the scientific and engineering overlap and the British contribution in this development that of course continues to the present day in FI and also green technologies and search for fuel savings. The proposed CCM&EC the business plan allows for a considerable interpretation of aviation / aerodynamic technology with demonstrations and commercial income from activities related to flying.
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.
6. The Cool 500
Author: Matt Master
Title: Top Gear: The Cool 500 [The Coolest Cars Ever Made]
Publisher &Date: BBC Books.2012
A&R library copy: Yes
There are several books with a similar concept but Top Gear Cool 500 has its value.
The editors suggest that its strength is:-
- 500 entries provides inclusive /representational range
- The selection of photographs [ some period, many promotional or marque brochure and studio compositions] are very evocative and useful
- Dates are given
- Production number [ not every model]
- The decade breakdown overlays with A&R articles Lotus Design Decades
- Their system/recording allows model/ marque ease of comparison & peer benchmarking
- Marque evolution can be traced and those with some consistency of iconic product/DNA
- Includes small selection of racing cars including F1
- Useful index that allows further ease of reference/ statistical comparison
- Generally compact and user friendly
The editors believe this work might appeal to:-
- Motoring historians and journalists
- Social / cultural historians and commentators
- Brand managers
- Creative media and advertising professionals
- Prospective purchasers and collectors
- Motor design engineers and coachwork designers
- Students of engineering aesthetics
- Drama, film and documentary researchers etc.
The editors liked the fact that such a large proportion of Lotus models were included. To whet the appetite a selection of other marques are included.
|Date Given in book||Marque||Model No||Name|
|Lotus||Esprit||“The definitive 70’s wedge”|
|Talbot- Lago||T150 CSS|
|Fiat||8v||Zagato||“Subtle and perfectly balanced”|
Top Gear .The Cool 500 is nicely presented with monocolour photographs on the hardback front and rear covers. These pose cars in “offsets” that accentuates differences but invites comparison.
The text by Master’s is not technical and he deliberately focuses on the “reputational” and cultural significance of each item in some period context.
This aspect makes it very complementary with AR articles Lotus Design Decades.
Subscribers might like also to read and study this work alongside A&R book review “50 Cars that Changed the World” by the Design Museum.
When we read so often , and when such distinguished sources make complementary remarks and inclusion about Colin chapman and Lotus it really does question why a museum does not exist where the marque could really be given the presentation and interpretation that so many acknowledge and credit.
The purpose not a retrospective anointment or adoration but rather a means of projecting excellence, increasing sales, employment and British engineering innovation. Where so many other traditional brands sell on heritage, reputation design aesthetic and content it seems almost sabotage when such achievement goes unacknowledged.
- Unit item cost possibly relatively expensive associated with relatively small batch
- Possible ransom opportunity upset sales and production
- Purchase and delivery uncertainty and their impacts
- Possible legal controls and loss warranty again influence sales [other caveats and technical barriers]
- Dilutes manufacturers reputation. Concepts of grand integrity. Also success may be attributed to another source.
- Opportunities for economy of scale and franchise removed
- Possible servicing restrictions, objections warranty issues etc
- Potential for several external engines across model range.
- Potential for gap between engine and chassis capacity and performance
- May complicate sponsorship.
Lotus Pedal Car
Thank you for your continued interest and support
Editors of the newsletter
Jamie Duncan (webmaster)