Newsletter January 2011 – Number 29

  1. Result of the Christmas quiz and the winners
  2. Museums round the world you may not have heard of: National Car Museum of Iran
  3. Questions from our readers
  4. LOTUS and sponsorship
  5. The Fine Art of Motor Sport (Gordon Crosby)
  6. Lotus books(one the library)
  7. Lotus collectables
  8. Lotus interest on YouTube

All previous articles relating to these are held on the website.

1. Results of the Christmas quiz and the winners

Well, the clear winner with 17 correct answers out of 20 was Kim Eaton. Numbers 5, 11 and 17 were the only ones to stump Kim. An amazing result. A fighting second came Tom Houghton with 13 and Tim Bucknell third with a close 11. The rest were in the 7-10 bracket.

So to Kim goes the Innes Ireland book and to Tom the Lotus book.

Again many thanks to Mike Stripe for creating the quiz.

Click here to download the answers.

2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of

The National Car Museum of Iran is a museum in Karaj, Iran, opened in the year 2001. Inside the museums are classic cars owned by the last Shah of the Pahlavi Dynasty, Mohammad Reza Shah. There are two parts to the complex. One is a large museum which is open to the public and there is a restoration center at the back side where no visitors can enter.

Where do the cars come from?

After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Shah of Iran fled the country and leaving behind most of his possessions. Mohammad Reza Shah was famous for his love of sports cars, and he was known for taking out one of his many cars late at night and racing through the highways of Tehran. After he fled the country, many of his cars were put into hiding: either stored in garages, hidden underground, or even pushed into water. Following the revolution, these cars have been recovered, restored, and put into the museum. On rare occasions, these cars are actually driven.

Shah 1 Shah 2

Visit the website below and click on the video presentation. It’s excellent.


3. Question (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?

The following are recent questions

Hi Neil,

I thought the quiz was going to be easier this time!
I will have words with Mike Stripe

From DJP

4. Lotus and Sponsorship.


This article touches a very important subject; past and present.

Lotus was one of the most significant participants and perhaps wore two of the most indelible sponsor logos ever seen in motor sport.

The text books tell us about the events but not much about the genius of Chapman’s conceptual thinking or how he made connections and established partnerships. We can only imagine how he envisaged the overall package and perhaps the very quality and distinctiveness of the branding would give a competitive and psychological advantage. [Try to comprehend the potential enormity of opportunity that Chapman might have grasped] It would be a good piece of research to examine the exact contract that he made with the sponsors]

The subject has some ethical considerations that will be debated frankly.

The subject has direct and immediate relevance to the proposed museum project.

Sponsorship has not been the exclusive preserve of motor sport and many other major events, exhibitions and institutions including tennis have benefited from their involvement.

Ethical or Philosophical Concerns about Sponsorship.

The arguments against sponsorship are:

  • That it promotes some products associated with health dangers
  • It promotes products which if not used / consumed sensibly can cause anti social behaviour
  • That the products pose greatest dangers to young impressionable minds
  • That some of the products associated with the greatest health dangers are extremely profitable
  • That those profits permit the greatest level of sponsorship and hence consumption.
  • That high profits can afford the most persuasive of marketing and psychological techniques to induce consumption
  • Some have concerns about multinationals their corporate policy, their treatment of the environment and suppliers particularly in the third world.
  • Sponsorship is a linked ratchet linking investment to results in a way that it can eliminate smaller competitors [on / off the track]
  • Potential malpractice relating to taxation

The author understands some of these concerns.

The counter argument in favour of sponsorship is that:

  • It provides choice
  • It is essentially education and informed choice
  • Its openness and free access without censorship or moralisation.
  • It has an interest to promote excellence and symbiotic relationships
  • In some instances it has helped produce consumer products.
  • It is international and available to all without restrictions of national boundaries.
  • Imagery and branding transcend language and again promotes internationalism.
  • Some would contend that any form of competition that then publishes results is an act marketing if not sponsorship.
  • It permits the smaller specialist get some recognition e.g. components not seen externally e.g. plugs.
  • Sponsorship can have totally social responsibly through educational and environmental support
  • The companies could spend money in other marketing devises, outlets and media or might seek to reduce price to increase consumption, which might of course have the adverse health benefits that its detractors seek.

Of course sponsorship has been a legal and moral minefield impacting on the viability of the sport and subject to considerable political debate and legislation.

The author considers on balance that sponsorship with a social responsible focus can have some wider community benefits. The argument for which is developed later in relation to the museum project.

Definition and Application of sponsorship

Sponsorship is to support an event, activity, person or organisation financially or through provision of products or services.

A sponsor is the individual or the group that provides the support, similar to a benefactor.

Sponsorship is cash or in kind fee paid in return for access to the exploitable commercial opportunity associated with the person or event.

The sponsor may wish to be identified or even become synonymous with a sport individual or event.

Sponsorship is not new and has existed where greater opportunities for exposure exist. TV and radio by definition of the mass audience witnessed early sponsorship.

Sponsorship is becoming an important part of life and has a role in education.

Perhaps the best sponsorship exists when there is a symbiotic relationship between the parties. To succeed it must meet and address the sponsors needs, aspirations, offer value for money and be cost effective.

A creative approach is required with regard to effective marketing, sales and promotional opportunities.

Sponsorship needs to remain relevant in achieving commercial objectives. These adapt change with society and competition and increasingly reflect concerns for social responsibility, sustainability and the environment.

Sponsorship has an interest in demographics and the audience numbers it can reach with cost effectiveness.

Examples and Use within the Motor Industry

  • 1977 Aston Martin DB7 –Alfred Dunhill
  • 1995 Subaru Impreza 555 -555 State Express
  • 1989 Labatt’s Ford Sierra RS500
  • 1973 Iso Rivolta Lele –Marlboro
  • 1977 Porsche 924 Martini – Martini Rossi Special Edition
  • 1984 Jagermeister BMW M635 Csi
  • 1981-1988 Camel Trophy Land Rover
  • 1984-1986 Metro 6R4 Rothmans
  • 1977-Lotus Esprit Europa, Elan –John Player Specials
  • 2000/02-Lotus Elise “Gold Leaf/John Player Specials”

Lotus, John Player and Imperial Tobacco

C.1828 William Wright set up a small tobacco factory in Nottingham, GB.
Around 1877 it was purchased by John Player. He then built the Castle Tobacco factory in Radford, Nottingham to expand production.

He also [typically Victorian] adopted a registered trademark to guarantee to the public that the product was genuine and of consistent quality.

Two of his sons inherited and later ran the business.
At the turn of the century and responding to American competition Players joined forces with Imperial Tobacco Group based at Bristol, GB.
Imperial tobacco between them held a distinctive identity and brand. This included; Gold Leaf, Woodbines, Players, Navy Cut, Number Six, John Player Special and Embassy.

Imperial tobacco commenced sponsorship in 1968 with Gold Leaf livery. [Lotus 49] Later they switched to JPS.and continued until c 1986.
It’s interesting to note the link / overlap that Imperial Tobacco also sponsored Graham Hills F1 team under their other brand name of Embassy. The company were also involved with JPS Norton Dunlop motorcycle road racing.

Aesthetics and Branding and Lotus Road and Race cars.

Lotus road and race cars that that displayed sponsor branding include:

  • Elan Gold Leaf
  • Europa Gold Leaf &JPS
  • Esprit JPS & Essex
  • Elise Various
  • Race cars – see Excel sheet for full details.

It’s rare that the aesthetic of the branding should be complementary to the design .In the Lotus case the majority of the road cars that bore the colours did so with an integrated distinction.

Two examples are worthy of extended analysis.

Lotus Type 74 Europa Special c 1971.

The Black and Gold livery of John Player Special adorned the Europa, Elan 2+2 and the Esprit. It was very effective on the Europa Special.

Although essentially the same as its predecessor there were some significant revisions. Aesthetically and externally the rear buttresses ere cut down to improve visibility and took a profile close to the rear deck. It’s subjective and debateable whether this improved overall balance and massing.

However the Europa special was available in the charismatic and recognisable livery of John Player Special.
This was very significant, subtle and persuasive for sponsors as owners were deliberately identifying and electing to promote the brand care of their ownership. In reality they provided an extremely rapid billboard.
The livery and detailing was stylish yet discreet and understated but perhaps more powerful and persuasive as a result. For many the complementary elements had a classicism of a refined package and profile.

The design scheme and presentation spoke of quality and deferred to understatement and tradition although there were strong but simple contrasts. The pin striping worked well with the shape and accentuated contours. The minimum of chrome to window frame, wiper blade, mirrors and bumpers really set of a reflected the stark simplicity.
The “Spider” wheels were well proportioned and the design sat well the wheel design coded within the overall framework concept.

The Europa was rather minimalist and the smallest detail like badging; indicators provided sharp points of functional contrast but aesthetically pleasing, harmonious and juxtaposed within a balanced mass and form.

The main measurements / proportions of the Europa Special:
Length: 157.5 “
Width: 64.5”
Height: 44”
Wheelbase: 92”

Lotus Type 49 FI Car 1967

The Type 49 will always been iconic for both its specification and appearance.
It was an evolved and thoroughly integrated package designed by Chapman and Philippe; renowned for the introduction of the Cosworth –Ford DFV [V8 engine]
The engine size and layout determined the overall shape of the chassis and reduced the cross section to a minimum. The chassis was constructed in aluminium with a GRP nose cone.
The Gold Leaf sponsor colours replaced the national colour codes of British “racing green”. These had been simple elegant appropriate but the sponsor colours and detailing were handled extremely tastefully and due to their Union Jack content were just as readily identified – perhaps more so.
Externally the body was presented in the Gold Leaf colours f red, white and gold in predominant two tone combination.
The colour scheme was bold bright and extremely distinctive. The blend was strong yet integrated and not all gaudy. The gold was kept to minimum but worked to highlight the nose cone and front wings. The sponsor band name and Team Lotus were attractively counterpoised and suggested partnership. The colour scheme worked well on the car and actually emphasised and accentuated the long low construction. [Elongated oblong in plan section; except for the sharpened nose cone detail.]

Even the black on white race numbers colour coded and provided a harmonious totality along with the 15” wheels and Firestone brand name picked out in fine white detail on their walls.

The detailing only saw a minimum of other sponsor logos in a way that did not detract from the overall form and function.

The engine, exhaust and suspension details in chrome plate or polished surfaces were understated but provided functional sparkle necessary to lift the design and give it a counterpoise. All in all it was totally correct.

The Type 49 looked functional and purposeful from all angles. It was instantly recognisable which was marketing asset and easy articulation.

The author feels that the correctness and aesthetically pleasing composition reached deep into the subconscious and this along with the competition success ensured that the Type 49 was emblazoned in magazines, periodicals and posters, book jackets and covers all over the world. It sold Lotus and Gold Leaf and this is what sponsors demanded. In the case of the Type 49 it possibly exceeded expectations.
The product was projected as successful, competitive, technologically advanced, nationalistic but also possessing degrees of understatement and the essence of good taste.

The extend of the impact and indelible imagery is that fifty years on the Gold leaf and John player logos /livery are considered some of the most effective and memorable ever created. This is a considerable achievement and a very significant return on investment.

Other Major Sponsors and Specialists Involved with Lotus.

The A&R holds a detailed database of nearly all the names of the companies that sponsored Lotus in period. Some of the larger companies are:

Lucky Strike
De Longhi

In addition and complementary are the details of all the specialists firms that contributed parts etc.
The significance of these extends into social and engineering/ manufacturing history and geographical locational patterns. It’s quite easy to overlook now that West London once had a specialist-engineering infrastructure to rival the Midlands.
Many of these companies aspired to excellence in their own right.
They also tell a story of how Chapman innovated to be competitive whilst keeping costs and overheads down. There are lessons for today.

The multitude of specialist firms offers extensive exhibition opportunities with educational lessons relating to survival and adaptation.
Some of the companies still exist.

The A&R has recorded 324 companies that either directly sponsored Lotus or were specialist-engineering suppliers. Many of who are multi nationals. The list also includes the smaller specialists many of whom were based in London. These companies have an important role and wealth of social history. From the time London was the epicentre of post war motor sport.
The A&R also holds a database of 3000+ companies internationally that have a current involvement and interest in motor sport.

Exploitation and Wider Promotional Opportunities.

Sponsorship can increase its exposure with related activities. The can include:

  • Television and radio
  • Video, DVD, film and Internet related.
  • Print and Press media and publications
  • Advertising, including support advertising
  • Race Day promotion
  • VIP entertainment and corporate hospitality
  • Merchandising
  • Point of Sale
  • Competitions
  • Special events
  • Capitalise on celebrities etc
  • Photography
  • Sponsored publications
  • Audience participation
  • Exhibitions and Road shows, Auto shows
  • Supporters club etc
  • Community involvement
  • Specialist PR

High visual impact opportunities.

  • Car design and associated graphics and logo etc
  • Transporters
  • Drivers uniform / overalls
  • Team “ “
  • Stationary. Letter heads. Communication media.


Typical examples

  • Wrist watches
  • Promotional material and adverts
  • Badges
  • Calendars and cards
  • TV programmes and documentaries
  • Advertisements, posters and magazine covers
  • Computer games
  • Press release
  • Information cards
  • Clothing and race wear
  • Utensils
  • Overalls
  • Tools
  • Stickers
  • Children’s toys and scale models
  • Packaging
  • Specification sheets
  • Specialist holidays
  • Books, DVD etc.
  • Creative media.

Applicability and Relevance to the proposed CCM&EC.

The author contends that sponsorship can play a significant role in the establishment of a museum devoted to motor sport.
This is both a facilitating and symbiotic between partners. Individual companies have their own history and this is interlinked with their involvement with Lotus.
There are opportunities for these to be displayed interpreted both in historic and ongoing evolutionary context. Technology was an integrated component of Chapman’s conceptual thinking and this can be brought to life at the museum.
Their products are often successful in their own right and have evolutionary courses worthy of study.
Colin Chapman engaged with sponsors to raise cash and remain competitive this is a legitimate practice and perhaps more so in the absence of state sponsorship/ subsidy. Equally applicable then as now sponsorship assisted sales and generated employment and hence through taxation contributed to the wider economy and social welfare. In the same vein the proposed museum believes that it too can and should co-develop its activities in conjunction with those companies that have historical connection some continuing to the present day and those who’s interest are symbiotic

Times and values change. Many multi national companies these days believe they have wider social responsibilities and obligations including sustainability. There can be no greater contribution than to education culture, technology, business development and international exchange than the museum project provides.
The museum project raises the potential for tourism and cultural exchange.
The CCM&EC proposal places it self to advance its host as capital of culture. Great emphasising being placed on the design, creativity and problem solving forward thinking methodologies. These are linked holistically to interrelated international cultural and historical developments. Under such a regime the model will always progress self-fuelling it self with an inner driven momentum to deliver richer more multi layered cultivated objectives. The proposed museum helps drive an “Experience “based economy.

The Chapman philosophy of innovation, improvisation and analysis are perhaps more necessary today than before. Also relevant is the achievement, example, demonstration and contribution to green thinking of Chapman which if committed to performance non the less was the theoretical basis of energy and resource saving.

Sponsors in the museum setting have opportunities to explain their own ongoing R&D role and how they support the environment. Furthermore they can underpin educational, training, work experience and research programmes.

The museum is subtitled the “Exploratory –Laboratory” a living working dynamic organism. Its primary educational programme foundation in the Experience Economy. This is far reaching, high expectation, and value driven entertainment motivated learning opportunity. The museum provides a multi-layered opportunity to Learn, Question, Experiment, Participate, Watch, and Appreciate and be inspired.

The vertical /horizontal integration matrix permitting dual role blurring boundaries that simultaneously servers customers whilst providing high quality training and integrated work experience.

The CCM&EC has not been conceived as a fossilised regressive nostalgia trip but extremely forward looking with a master/ business plan that actively seeks positive sponsorship participation that is invited as an equal, equitable and honourable partner/ stake holder with shared visions and outcome driven. The concept is believed to have throughput volume, demographics especially of the young intelligent and science orientated; exposure to the media and educational programmes that will offer sponsors justification for investment.

Potential sponsors are invited to contact us. We are able to conduct presentations outlining the Business Plan and visualisation of the operational functioning museum.

Future Articles

Throughout 2011 the Archive and Resource will be developing a series of articles specifically relating to sponsors their products and how these contributed to Lotus success. We would be pleased to hear from those that feel that they have a connection and our subscribers who might wish express a preference or priority to these.

Sponsorship and the World of Motor Racing
Hazelton Publishing 1992
ISBN 0905138953

Finding Company Sponsors
Chris Wells
Directory of Social Change 2000

Looking after your donors
Karen Gilchrest
Directory of Social Change 2000



Gold Leaf


Type 57/58 Gold Leaf


Gold Leaf




Gold Leaf














Essex Martini


Essex JPS




Essex JPS


Essex Courage




Type 93T JPS
Type 94T JPS
Type 95T JPS
Type 97T JPS
Type 98T JPS
Type 99T Camel
Type 100T Camel




102B Multi Spons


Castrol Multi Spon
Type 107B Loctite Multi Spon


Loctite Multi Spon

Gold Leaf
Photo courtesy of Autoweek.

5. The Fine Art of Motor Sport

F.Gordon Crosby 1885-1943.

F.Gordon Crosby is believed to have been born in Sunderland in 1885.He tragically committed suicide in 1943.He was known as a family man with children, a doyen and for his sartorial elegance.

Gordon Crosby was self-taught illustrator-artist- draughtsman; although he might have gained a high level of technical skill as a draughtsman apprentice in his hometown. It is thought that he pioneered the concept of the exploded drawing and the cutaway.
Gordon Crosby is renown for his scope; versatility and he also encompassed the occasional cartoon.

Gordon Crosby created a unique and easily recognisable style. He possessed an idiosyncratic use of light; perhaps best seen in his watercolours. He captured and distilled the drama and passion of pre-war racing in his trackside imagery. His work seemed to combine both technical and artistic merit that some consider superior to his peers. When viewed his work radiates passion, aggression, romance mixed with dynamic intensity and enormous vigour and vitality.

The author feels that in his best work as perhaps applies to all the greatest works of art his renderings are better than photographs. In particular they involve the viewer. This is a precious gift in that not all can be privileged to have the direct experience. Through his work the layman and enthusiast are permitted to participate; and of course this also helped sell the magazines. The viewer enters the picture and the imagery is so strong and powerful all the related sights sounds and smells become present as if you were there. Gordon Crosby was able to capture the special quality of night racing with lights ablaze.

In his work the author detects a slight sculptural quality.

Gordon Crosby was house artist at Iliffe; joining Autocar c 1907/08 .He was renown for being something of an enigma .He worked with Peter Grainer; who was to write a biography of Gordon [see details below]

Gordon is known to have worked in watercolours, charcoal with crayon, gouche , and oils but these were rare.

Gordon Crosby attempted a wide variety of subject matter; and it is felt that this deserves an appraisal and a selection of work will be described in more detail.

The art world seems to be influenced by a certain cultural snobbery. This manifests it self in criticism for certain art forms and artists possibly based on their content. Most in not all the artists mentioned in this series have not been highly regarded and even considered daubers .Its possibly that their work is perceived as lowbrow and journalistic illustration. Possibly because the work helped sell magazines it is considered tainted or perhaps even corrupted.
The author would seriously challenge this assumption. Some of the most highly regarded art works are very representational for example landscape and portraiture. The works of the Impressionists might be regarded for their content and the fact the artists both caught and reflected a fleeting moment of life in a poetic manner.
Turner in “Rain Wind and Speed “ made an early attempt at recording the drama of the new technology and its impressions on the public.
The author considers perhaps with a little controversy that Gordon Crosby might be considered amongst the artists of the Golden Age of Illustration. In his work I see shades of Arthur Rackham and his use of watercolour to achieve sublime luminosity.
In nearly every respect the works of Gordon Crosby achieve the same and on occasions exceed this. His technical merit certainly compares with many of the “masters”

Gordon Crosby’s achievements included designing the leaping Jaguar mascot for William Lyons, and poster commissions from Count Florio. It is believed that he may have also undertaken some commercial work for Bentley and M.G.

Six descriptive pieces help explain and articulate the creative and versatile genius of Gordon Crosby:

Meteors of the Road and Track Series – No.23: The 1926 Le Mans

Gordon Crosby was a considerable exponent of motoring drama, danger and romance. In some of his best work he combined racing and or night driving. Several of his most memorable works captured night racing at Le Mans.
One of these is the 1926 race; and Gordon Crosby has selected a pit stop. The Lorraine –Dietrich is being refuelled and the engine and or plugs checked.
Gordon Crosby’s portrayal is so lights from above illuminate utterly atmospheric .The pits; mechanics are outlined whilst other urgent support activities are suggested in the shadows.
The headlamps of the Lorraine –Dietrich remain on and out of the gloom of night the red
Two litre O.M. thunders by.
To the right of the picture the artist suggests the outline of stands shrouded in a deep ink blue night. With an isolated star hinting at the slow approach of dawn.

Gordon Crosby never fails to capture the era; its values and a little nostalgia of the time when machines still seemed to possess some soul and individual character. Driver and machine somehow more united and a time when perhaps conduct was more gentlemanly and an element of luck was appreciated

The artist’s skill is considerable. So much is contained yet so little is actually depicted. Perhaps this is a deliberate intention. The artists possible wants us to engage and to touch our emotions .to enter the picture and the spirit. He possess the gift of triggering a fuller experience and all our faculties become engaged not for what he has included but what he suggests. Reference to an essence seems to engage the psychology that we are able to provide and expand the scene, and to fill in detail that picture alone cannot convey. I believe that Gordon Crosby’s genius is that he enables the viewer to explore and almost move around inside the composition and allow the imagination is fullest capacity to translate and convey the full sensory stimulus beyond such as the time, temperature, aroma, ambience, weather and crescendo of racing engines and even the even the solitude and blanket of night far in the distance.

The race will go on. The viewer has been permitted to experience a brief, significant unfolding moment. What Gordon Crosby depicts is never static .He is a master at story telling of epic heroic ballads

Not all can afford or are able to have the direct personal experience of such dramatic events. In one sense Gordon Crosby’s work is very democratic .It extends out and reaches and touches. It shares in a profound way. Gordon Crosby has used his mighty talent to overcome an obstacle and made all those who experience his work a little richer and inspired. A noble achievement.

Lagonda chassis drawing

In this modest subject matter, Gordon Crosby executes the work with consummate ability and renders the car the quality that its manufactures aspired to.
For the author in this sketch/ drawing Gordon Crosby displays his mastery of the subject and how best it should be rendered. It radiates quality, elegance, and workmanship and suggests form that the chassis will deliver. It is relatively easy to imagine the chassis “clothed”.
In the foreground the proud upright radiator is distinctive. Suspension detail is accurately recorded, as are the carburettors. The artist uses light and shade to perfection as a means of picking out highlights of the chrome and polished components surfaces. Gordon Crosby technical mastery enables him to convey the texture of the varying materials from the chrome headlamps, polished cam covers or the steering wheel rim.

The chassis sits presence it self a work of art and its as if Cordon Crosby has rejoiced in its engineering elegance and rendered the picture with a loving care and empathy as if he had been privileged to have been in its presence and drawn it.

The “M.G. Girl”

Once again in this work Gordon Crosby demonstrates his talent, versatility and empathy with the subject matter. For all the power and thundering guts of much of his work here the artist capture femininity with allure but without sentimentality. In many respects it speaks reams of the era and early emancipation of women. The lady driver is the central point and purpose or object of the composition. She gases directly at the viewer with charm displaying an understated poetry. Like other good works it conveys more and the subtext is subtly portrayed and this involves fashion equality and equal enjoyment and access to the open road with sporting intentions. For the era it is perhaps quite advanced marketing and requires someone of Gordon Crosby’s genius to convey so much with a reference to the product its potential and appropriateness.
It’s subtle, very subtle. And these messages are sent without relying on the moving image or sound for reinforcement.

The New Earls Court Building 1938

In this easily recognisable scene [London landmark] Gordon Crosby depicts the dramatic new bold architecture is strong and powerful it reaches out of the frame into the night sky.
Gordon Crosby renders the scene in the very characteristic English rain. He uses the weather condition to artistic effect. The picture is animated with busy London traffic and humane bustle and jostles pedestrians dodging the downpour of a late evening shower. The nightfall and street lighting accentuate the atmospheric composition. Gordon Crosby has captured to perfection the quintessential English mood moment and manners in the body language and season. The rains gloss is picked up and reflects on surfaces and the hard chrome of passing cars radiator surrounds and hubcaps.
The Motor show is almost depicted as Hollywood, with a hint of celebrities, optimism, and fashion, and achievement, excitement mixed with a little anticipation.
Once again Gordon Crosby tells a story beyond the immediate representation of the scene. This is not mere picture postcard photography. He has succeeded in capturing a moment in history and distilling it. Perhaps to through the picture we can have an inner glimpse of the artist a warm humanitarian with great versatility and technical virtuosity; a person for whom the visual representation makes visual stories and even poetry.

“Continental Touring” [Autocar c 1934]

Continental touring was fashionable and for the inset almost derigueur for the pre-war period,
It was one of Gordon Crosby’s favourite subjects. This work is an incarnation of the essence of fast touring and road racing with a riding mechanic. This particular work is all the more impressive as it has been executed with a limited palette. The composition has been foreshortened to increase the visual impact of speed and the charging car will almost immediately plunge over a precise like a waterfall.
The picture depicts an imaginary high-powered car with splayed cambered splayed wire wheels. The elongated loved bonnet with external exhaust .The driver and riding mechanic compact couched low below the aero screens racing quick release petrol filler on the boat tail.
The “team” and car animal like tare and bellow through the mountains almost precipitating an avalanche in their wake. Despite the power and determination they are portrayed almost dwarfed by nature and the onward pull of the mountains.
The team are presented like explorers or mountaineers or aviators caught in the rarefied chilled high altitude air.
The artist’s restricted palette helps accentuate the mood, chalk capturing the frosted airstreams and gleam from the chrome instrument bezels. White also enlightens the composition and suggests the perspective into he distance and the range yet to be conquered.
It’s almost possible to hear the exhaust rebound from the cliff edge and for a split second read the instruments. The imagery almost Viking like the car cresting mountains like the longboat.
In the middle distance a long straight ribbon of road passes through dense pine forest that comes right up to the edge of the road. The sky is dark and there are many miles to cover yet. There is also solitude and unspoken thoughts and loyalty, trust between the men as they forge forward.
The driver looks down the long louved bonnet, headlamps set low and symmetrical. Cambered wheels and heavy ribbed helmet mudguards of the cycle type surmounted by pencil like torpedo sidelights allow the wheels to be seen bucking as the fight for grip.

The racing mechanic alert, vigilant reads the road and studies the instruments an empathetic ear records the engine and rejoices in its rugged reliability. Cowered down he attempts to gain a minimum of protection and gain a little heat form the engine and possibly the exposed gearbox within the confines of the cockpit.

The boat tail truncated in the composition only serves to emphasise the speed and movement. The huge quick release filler cap hints that the tail contains only a large capacity tank. The artist’s uses chalk highlight or possibly the paper to reflect the hard cold light as the possibility of dusk draws on and temperatures fall

The viewer picks up on the ambient temperature, the assault on the senses the wind-chill, determination and concentration.

Once again Gordon Crosby uses allegory and in this scene the author is reminded of several pieces of music and poetry not least “ How They Brought Good News from Ghent to Aix ” by Robert Browning.


“Highlands ?”. No title given but image in Classic and Sports Car -December 1990 p131 Title page Gordon Crosby: His Life and Work

This work s so redolent of the era that Gordon Crosby captured so well.
It is also steeped I historical significance. The interwar period experienced the extremes of wealth and poverty, the growth in the ownership of the motorcar and the move from Internationalism to Nationalism.
This work should perhaps be counterpoised with that of the piece above Continental Touring. Whereas this piece speaks of the isolation and rejoicing in our own secure domestic scene, Continental is full on blood and guts post haste. Gordon Crosby however can handle both subjects with equal merit and subtlety.
For a period the rich were able to undertake Continental touring. Monaco and the French Rivera were their destinations. The era was possibly one of the most romantic in motoring terms. It may have had overtones of the 18c Grand Tour. However with the spread of nationalism and the treat of war much continental travel was restricted. A new generation of motorists rediscovered their own country.

This era has been particularly well captured by H.V.Morton in his “Search for … Series” [see book review to follow]. These travel guides start in the late 1920’s and continued through the 1930’s.Morton’s “In Search of Scotland” being graphic with some very attractive near poetic word pictures and atmospheric descriptions.

The Gordon Crosby watercolour expresses these sentiments to near perfection.

In the foreground a lone driver has climbed from his touring car and sits on a jagged rock and looks to the distant horizon over meandering moorland and mountain that melts into the heather tinted sky.
The scene is desolate and rather magnificent in its isolation. There are no houses; no towns no smoke no factories.
The road runs seemingly onward like a ribbon into the distance serpentine cutting through the gorse bracken and heather fording streams .the suggestion being that the driver has taken a break near a sign post to absorb the closing embers of the day as dusk approaches. The picture suggests the connection or bond of man, machine and nature. Joint travellers and their shared empathy and the receding horizon.

The picture has a sort of loneliness and quite solitude. It is optimistic and warm colours of purple heather bleed throughout.

The inference is that the driver will soon resume his journey; the signpost will guide his journey. There will be crystal clear sparking moorland streams to cross or run along side the road and grouse will fly low overhead.

Although not depicted the artist suggests that stoic Highland cattle will graze the wild untamed moorland down to the water edge or lock hidden from view.

These images of serenity are of a country soon to be changed by War but they also the indelible images of a country and freedom that soldiers fought to preserve. We should take a quite moment to look into this picture and reflect.

“The Art of Gordon Crosby “ by peter Grainer.
Hamlyn 1978.

Crosby 1

Crosby 2

rt Bentley Inc

6. Lotus books one for the library.



From Drawing Board to Chequered Flag (Hardcover)

Tony Southgate’s career as an engineer and designer covered what to many was the most interesting period of motor racing. His cars were fast, innovative and looked great. This book brings it to life in a very readable way. Definitely one for the library.

7. Lotus Collectables

Politstil Lotus Indianapolis Turbine F1 Car


8. Lotus interest on YouTube

One item on Youtube maybe of interest our readers
A lot of great footage.

Lotus Eterne
Thank you for your continued interest and support

Editors of the newsletter
John Scott-Davies
Neil Duncan
Jamie Duncan (webmaster)