Lotus Provides an Oil Platform


In this article we examine a very significant piece of advertising that has adopted Lotus iconography to help sell a product.

The Duckhams advertisement is very redolent of 1960’s and takes the student into that cultural epoch and its icons, visual canon and nuisances.

The editors are interested in the indirect adoption of Lotus iconography as it’s a prism to measure brand/marque appeal and reputation. If another international brand adopts Lotus for its advertisements there is good reason.

The husband and wife team of Gabriel and Mark Konig hold an important place in British and International motorsport; as does the marque they created Nomad.

The study of Lotus is not a subject of study just for motor racing enthusiasts and automobile engineers as it contains considerable social/cultural history.

The advertising and projection/publicity aspect of Lotus is extremely relevant, touching marketing, communication, graphic art etc. As such it has considerable lessons for creative industry professionals today along with museum curators searching for fresh prisms with which to interpret social/cultural/design/technology.

This advertisement also permits a snapshot of the Nomad marque and alongside a comparison with Lotus.

Subscribers might like to see A&R related articles:-

* Lotus :Design Decades 1960’s

* Lotus and 1960’s

* Elan and Carnaby Street

* Sales brochures of various Lotus models


Figure 1.The caption below the photograph reads: “the successful husband and wife partnership of Gabriel and Mark Konig share the honours with the Lotus Elan.Duckhams Q20-50 motor oil, their choice both on the circuit and for everyday motoring “.

Nomads: From Platform to Podium

In this advertisement we witness an excellent form of transference and identity by association.

Duckhams have adopted a very clever formula to market a difficult product.

What they have set out to do is:-

Identify their product with excellence

The primary excellence role models are Gabriel and Mark Konig, their marriage, partnership and shared passion for motor racing

Lotus /Lotus Elan, which was raced by Gabriel and was emerging as a fashion icon in its own right. [ note the Elan has been fitted with permanent Perspex headlamp faired in covers]

Connectivity with fashion and culture of Swinging London in the 1960

In order for this advertisement type to work and reach its audience it’s imperative to have the correct “interpreter” elements ie a commodity that comes ready charged with accepted positive reputation and is visually identifiable without ambiguity.

The Konig’s and Lotus give an immediate recognition combined with credibility. They galvanise and accelerate the message.

Here ,if the audience is invited to make association / word play they can be spun the connection with Lotus and lubrication and produce imagery with the connotation of:-

* Polish

* Smooth

* Advance –forward

* Further

* Promote

* Speed up

* Expedite

* Accelerate

* Facilitate

All powerful adjectives helping sell product.

A positive connotation by association is passed to the product i.e. Duckhams oil.

The message is heavily loaded with teamwork. A community and indivisibility of the best.

It’s a technique used in many contexts/products and continues to the present day.

The editors would mention that Duckhams had a HQ in London W6 possibly Hammersmith, and would have been central to London’s 1960’s epicentre of post war motor racing and indeed Swinging London.

An appreciation of the Konigs ought to be noted to reinforce the message above

From the net:-

“The Nomads were built by Mark Konig and Bob Curl to race in national and international sports car races. The MK 1 was a coupe built in 1967 and powered with a twin cam engine.

In 1968 a formula 1 BRM car was purchased and the MK 2 was built from the parts. In 1969 an identical car, the MK 3 was built. No further cars were made. Both cars built with space frames and fibreglass bodies were powered by 2 litre V8 BRM engines.”

From the net:-

“NOMAD 1A 67 with renewed HTP papers gained when fitted with Lotus twin cam.

Currently powered by an all steel 1700cc crossflow giving 185 bhp and 135 ft/lbs torque built and maintained by Rawlson Racing, the car runs with this engine in HSCC Guards Trophy races.

Hewland Mk 9 5 speed with LSD.

Fitted with brand new Girling AR front calipers and 10 1/2″ discs.

Much raced in UK, very successful in South Africa and recently raced with HSCC, Attracts attention where ever it is.

The Nomad mk1 was designed and built by Bob Curl and raced internationally in period by Mark Konig and Tony Lanfranchi with the mk1a being built at a later date by Bob Curl.”

From Twite:-

“The Nomad is one man’s dream come true. That man is Mark Konig who had the ambition to drive his own car in the world’s classic long –distance sports car races .the result was the Nomad Mk.1 which appeared in mid-1967.acoupe of fairly large proportions ,it used a 1600cc Ford twin cam engine .several successes were scored…….c1968 a 1500cc BRM V8 engine was fitted …….for 1969 designer Bob Curl built up the Nomad Mk.2,an open design making use of the new FIA weight saving etc. regulations .power came from BRM’s latest 2 litre V8 engine , the P123.

first race was the Targa Florio in which Mark’s wife Gabriel suffered a puncture which damaged the suspension.

Konig and Lanfranchi drove at Le Mans –Mark’s greatest dream had come true……

For 1970 replicas of theMk.2 have been built for determined onslaught on the new FIA 2 litre sports car championship.”

Marque Nomad-BRM

Model Mk.2

Year c1968

Engine /Cyli BRM V8,water cooled

Bore /Stroke 72.28/59.18mm

CC 1998cc

Valve Gear 4 ohc

Comp Ratio 10.8 to 1

Carburettors Lucas fuel injection

Max.Power 250 bhp @ 9,000 rpm

Trans/Gears 5 speed Hewland gearbox

Front Brakes Girling discs

Rear Brakes Girling discs

Steering rack&pinion

Front Susp’ wishbones,coilsprings

Rear Susp’ lower wishbones, top links, twin radius rods and coil springs

Chassis multi-tubular space frame

Wheel base 7′-7in approx.

Front Track 4′-7in

Rear Track 4′-7in

O’length 13ft-7in

O’width.body 5′-10in

Kerb weight 1635lbs.

Front Tyres 15in dia [wheels 10in]front and 13in [rear] rims

Rear Tyres

Extract from Obituary for Gabriel Konig [from the net]

“But it was as Gabriel Konig that she drew her personal fame.

As a racing driver there were few who could match her, never mind catch her, man or woman.

Under her racing name, Gabriel Konig, she began competing on the British track circuit in the early 1960s and continued for over four decades, and was recognized as the best female racer in the UK.

She actually began driving a tractor at the age of 10 and got her driving licence seven years later.

‘When I was younger my mother used to take us to the races in the Curragh, the Phoenix Park and Dundrod,’ she said once. ‘I remember those days so well because the smells, the noise and the excitement of the day had such an impact on me and from that time on I was hooked.’

Within four years of getting her licence she was on the racing circuit out of her then home in Hammersmith, where she was married to Mark Konig, himself a noted competitor.

Her early cars were a Lotus Elite and an Elan, before moving to an Imp in 1966, when she was the first woman to win a race at Lydden in England.

But it was at Brands Hatch and later in Spa in Belgium where she was something of a real celebrity, one of the few top women racers, matching the men week after week.

She said at the time: ‘I have never experienced any animosity from the men. I think they enjoy competing with women. I am just treated like everyone else’.

She never had any fears when racing but got” keyed up’ before the start, keen to always do well. Gabriel also raced at Thruxton, Oulton Park and the Nurburging in an illustrious career.

She spent some years in South America before coming home and running Beaulieu, along with another great racer in his day, Malcolm Clarke.

She found it hard to give the time to competing in more recent years but did manage the odd trip out in her vintage cars.

She opened a superb racing museum in Beaulieu House and there was nothing better than getting the rundown from Gabriel on her amazing career.

Gabriel is sadly missed by her family and all at Beaulieu. Her funeral was on Tuesday, January 15, at Beaulieu Church, amid her little piece of heaven.”

Gabriel Konig: An appreciation –from the net:

“Gabriel Konig, the name she always used when referring to her motor sporting activities, was a reminder of the privileged days of the sport. She was indeed a privileged person as the ‘lady of the manor’ of magnificent Beaulieu House, Ireland’s oldest unfortified house which overlooks the River Boyne on the coastal side of Drogheda. Quite extraordinarily the Beaulieu Estate, which has been in her family since 1650, has been handed down for all those years through the female line of the family, which probably had a lot to do with Gabriel’s confident, decisive and strong personality. Her assessments of her fellow competitors were blunt and entertaining, Gabriel did not suffer fools gladly, but she truly loved her motorsport and liked to be taken seriously as a very competitive driver in a male dominated sport, which indeed she was. My first

acquaintance with Gabriel and her then husband Mark Konig was in South Kensington mews. While working as a trainee architect in the big smoke, I passed an entrance and to my amazement I spied a racing Lotus Elan being pushed out onto the cobbled

courtyard by a young and well-attired couple. My obsession with the sport overtook my inhibitions and I introduced myself to Mr. and Mrs. Konig, while admiring Mrs. Konig’s beauty as much as her husband’s gleaming racer. Gabriel had already been racing an Elite and the Elan for a number of years when I bumped into them in 1964. The Lotus, which she shared with her husband, was by then in full race trim and they had driven it in the 1000km at the daunting Nurburgring in Germany. By 1966 Gabriel had won her first race in a Roger Nathan prepared Hillman Imp, but her big successes came in Mod Sports, where she was spotted by the late John Britton and installed in one of his very swift MG Midgets in 1968. Racing in Ireland was confined to Kirkistown, the annual road races at Phoenix Park and Dunboyne at that time. Gabriel’s ambitions were more international, so she had never raced at home. Her 1968 season was sensational, 15 class wins and nine lap records and when the Britton Midget was further modified in 1969 with a 1340cc engine, Gabriel had an outright win at Fasborough in

Germany and she took the little MG into 18th place overall out of 80 starters on the famed Italian road circuit at Mugello. She also experienced another road racing classic that year, the Targa Floria in Sicily, where she shared the drive with her husband Mark in his self-designed Nomad BRM, but a puncture put paid to a result on that occasion. There was a major setback in 1970 when a front upright broke on the Formula Ford that she was driving at Interlagos near San Paulo in Brazil, but by the following year she was sharing a Chevrolet Camero with another famous female driver, Marie Claude Beaumont, at the Spa 24 hour race.”

Learning Opportunities

Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.

These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.

In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-

* Why was black and white photography used in 1960’s magazines?

* How does B&W compare with colour in advertisement media

* Analysis advertisement; what is composition and structure /message?

* To what extent does advertisement conform to 1960 canon and iconography? [See A&R pieces on 1960’s, Carnaby Street etc.]

* Study image –which other iconic Lotus photoshoot does it resemble

* Should this advertisement be a success? Attempt to interpret in 1960’s cultural context

* Identify other brands [in history] through present day that use celebrity and association to sell products with either less glamouious identity or those products which can’t be converted to visual image………..think perfume to petrol!!

Exhibitions, Education and Economics

In the museum context the editors believe that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our suggested outline 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 this instance we believe the following might be appropriate:-

o Couples and Cars

o Celebrities and Cars

o Cars &Fashion

o 1960’s London :Photoshoot Locations

o The Joy of Six: Group Six

o Nomad v Lotus 62

o “Elan”

o Nomad No Rolling Stone

o 1960’s Swinging London

o Elan and Carnaby Street


What this advertisement demonstrates is that success sells

One brand borrows from another to make connectivity.

Oil was not the most romantic or glamorous of products to shift. Here we see the advertisers overcoming the limitations by prime connectivity.

The advertisement appeals to both sexes in the liberated 1960’s.It calls attention to famous couples at the forefront of the design world like the Day’s, Eames and Mary Quant.

It also appears to be London based and as such connects with the city as post was epicenter of motor sports and at the time Swinging London fashion and pop culture.

The advertisement makes the Lotus Elan very prominent. It is used for visual impact and connectivity.

However first the object has to have achieved its own reputation and visual vocabulary to be used in translation situation.

The advertisement emphasizes team work throughout success on success.

Lotus in many respects with at their most glamorous during the 1960’s and this advertisement also provides a prism through to “The Avengers”.

The editors maintain that a thorough study of Lotus takes the student significantly into social and cultural history; to fashion and advertising.

It’s very evident that Lotus both directly and indirectly were style leaders.

It’s very much a reflected glory and complement that a significant brand like Duckhams sought a Lotus connection to promote its products.


The Worlds Racing Cars.Twite.Macdonald.1971

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.