Colin Chapman Museum and Education Centre Newsletter May 2011
Newsletter – Number 31
- Lotus around and about
- Museums around the world you may not have heard of: Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Site
- Questions from our readers
- Aesthetic Analysis – Car designers
- Lotus books one for the library
- Lotus collectables
- Lotus interest on YouTube
All previous articles relating to these are held on the website.
1. Lotus around and about
2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of: Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
The Henry Ford, a National Historic Landmark, (also known as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, and more formally as the Edison Institute), in the Metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, USA, is the nation’s “largest indoor-outdoor history museum” complex.
Named for its founder, the noted automobile industrialist Henry Ford, and based on his desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution, the property houses a vast array of famous homes, machinery, exhibits, and Americana. The collection contains many rare exhibits including John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine, Abraham Lincoln’s chair from Ford’s Theatre, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, and the Rosa Parks bus.
Henry Ford said of his museum, “I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used…. When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition…”
Henry Ford Museum began as Henry Ford’s personal collection of historic objects, which he began collecting as far back as 1906. Today, the 12 acre (49,000 m²) site is primarily a collection of antique machinery, pop culture items, automobiles, locomotives, aircraft, and other items:
The museum features an IMAX Theater, which shows scientific, natural, or historical documentaries; as well as major feature films.
- A model of the nuclear-powered Ford Nucleon automobile.
- An Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
- The 1961 Lincoln Continental, SS-100-X, that President John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated.
- The rocking chair from Ford’s Theatre in which President Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was shot.
- George Washington’s camp bed.
- A ten-person safety bicycle made in 1896
- A collection of several fine 17th and 18th century violins including a Stradivarius.
- Thomas Edison’s alleged last breath in a sealed tube.
- Buckminster Fuller’s prototype Dymaxion house.
- The bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- Igor Sikorsky’s prototype helicopter.
- Fokker Trimotor airplane that flew the first flight over the North Pole.
- Bill Elliott’s record-breaking race car clocking in at over 212 MPH at Talledega in 1987.
- The Newcomen type engine from Cobb’s Engine House in England.
- The Automotive Hall of Fame is next to the Henry Ford Museum.
- Behind the scenes, the Benson Ford Research Center uses the resources of The Henry Ford, especially the photographic, manuscript and archival material which is rarely displayed, to allow visitors to gain a deeper understanding of American people, places, events, and things.
(Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days)
Courtsey of Wikepedia
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 is a recent quesiton we have received.
What does your newsletter think of the direction Lotus are taking, especially now Caterham are part of Tony Fernades group
4. Aesthetic Analysis
This is a part of a series we are planning that will provide an indepth analysis of specific designs from our proposed series of the Worlds Car Designers.
This article grew out of a synthesis deeply rooted in a critical analysis and appreciation of the achievements of Colin Chapman and Lotus. It was also inspired by:
A requirement to establish the relative hierarchy of Chapman through comparison
That fact that Chapman commissioned designers to cloth his cars. In particular the Esprit introduces us to specialist designers.
The Eight Automobiles Exhibition profiled the aesthetics of automobile engineering and design.
As a means of critical analysis we adopt a system of bench marking. This article essentially comprises an A_Z directory of the world’s car designers and their work. It also thought that assessment can be made through comparison with enjoyment and critical appreciation developed by the exercise.
The author’s knowledge is limited and its appreciated there may be omissions. Should subscribers feel that there are major omissions we hope that you will make suggestions. The exercise will be better as a result. These series can be incremental and the resource can improve over time. This is a building block and will be the source of an expanding series of articles that critically examine car design and performance using Lotus as an essential benchmark.
The author suggests that these fundamental criteria are applied when making comparisons:
Is the designer just creating body styles and what is that role[ owner , corporate executive consultant or creative draughtsman]
Engineer and designer
Owner, engineer, designer and person determining brief specification and viability.ie person taking risks
Owner, facilitator , coordinator [creative role can be underestimated]
Coachbuilders [ again the design role can be understated .The coachbuilders often were artists too ]
Industrial designer who designed in other fields as well as automobiles.
Subscribers may like to also look at our articles:
Motoring Icons of the 20C: Bugatti, Lotus and Jaguar.
Industrial and Product Designers
Aesthetic analysis – various descriptions of significant Lotus and peer car designs.
The work of Williams and Pritchard coach builders and our article.
Charity and Subjectivity
The author acknowledges that hard and fast rules are difficult in attributing design. The explanations are that individuals often worked for organisation that would tend to own the intellectual property.
Individuals might have reported to senior executives whom might have felt accountability. Aspects of the design might have been shared and designers change jobs mid project. Some alterations might be made in productionisation.
It is very difficult to hold a patent on a car design and for this reason designs are borrowed, modified and evolved. For this reason there is a continuum and many shades of gradation. The author’s chronology hopes to make some sense of this and offer peer comparisons.
For these reasons the author has been broadly generous in attributions.
The automobile design in the 20c
Design has been conducted against a wider socio economic context. The car has been one of the greatest symbols of the era and for some defining it. Please see chronology list of significant car designs as this will assist understanding. Some of the profound influences on design have been:
- Socio-economic interaction –wealth and poverty. The search for individual expression in society requiring greater conformity and as modified by mass production
- Employment and labour distribution through to commuting and public transport
- Energy availability and price
- Technology of mass production and mass markets and obsolescence.
- Culture and freedom of expression and individuality.
- National prestige.
- Legal commercial , financial considerations
- Taxation and Welfare
In the 20c and the consumerist society; design has sold. Style has been applied to table ware, refrigerators, food processors, TV sets and furniture.
The design of the motor car is one of the hardest objects to design and produce because of its mechanical complexity. It too has been subject to style. In this article we attempt to look at designers and in some small way explore the works where engineering excellent has been equalled by aesthetic beauty allied to function.
There is rich and deep evolving resource to draw upon.
New York Museum of Modern Art .1951 Exhibition “Eight Automobiles” [Rolling Sculpture]
This exhibition was concerned with the “aesthetics of motor car design”
The curator for this exhibition was Arthur Drexier and a catalogue was produced by Leo Lionni.
It listed these iconic cars that were displayed;
1930 Mercedes-Benz SS Tourer
1939 Bentley Saloon [ James Young]
1939 Talbot Lago [Teardrop coupe]
1951 Willis Jeep
1937 Cord 812 Custom
Lincoln Continental Coupe
A directory in three groups forming an A-Z
Aesthetic Analysis of Exceptional Cars and Short List
Aesthetics is very subjective and the editors acknowledge this. For this reason we invite other interpretations and suggestions for inclusion. We will be happy to respond.
In the early stage of motor car design the design clues and architecture were adopted from the steam engine. Symbolic and function suggested a long bonnet, small cab and fuel tender. From these functional activities derived the canons of taste.
Long bonnet, small cockpit and small boot comprised the essence of the recognisable sports car.
The structural move to mid and rear engine at a stroke removed this established formulae and allegory. A new vocabulary was required to articulate form and function.
More recently the mass produced saloon car with the transverse front engine, demand for internal space and fuel economy has perhaps reduced or restricted personalisation and expression.
Within this study the author has not provided a history of manufacturers but has chosen to focus on designers and engineer/ owner designers. However coachbuilders have contributed some truly magnificent designs and it was felt appropriate that they too ought to be acknowledged.
The author has drawn up a short list and a selection of detailed aesthetics studies is provided.
Again we are happy to receive reader’s ideas and suggestions which will be responded to. The incremental comparative nature of this study improves as a result.
Show cars have been referred to as: “butterflies – rare and ephemeral” but none the less in the authors eyes still some of the most striking beautiful of objects ever made particularly where there is total integration and articulation of form and function.
In the 1950’s there was a Renaissance in European car design and our study evidences this. In particular the Italian school has perhaps not been excelled in either quality or continuum. Theirs has been a celebration of sculpture and an expression and exercise in artesian skill and applied technology. Passion drives the creativity and there is a sense of aspiration that is rarely compromised by any cynical requirement of utility.
I hope that these observations will be borne out by the aesthetic studies provided.
The author suggests that although photographs are a useful tool for aesthetic analysis they are possibly best used in conjunction with working drawings. For this reason readers are directed to the website WWW.carblueprints and examples are included to complement the observations made,
Short list [designs selected for extended analysis in italics] see also chronological list.
1915 Stutz Bearcat
1933 Dymaxion Car
1934 Tatra 77
1934 Bentley 4.5L
1934 Chrysler Airflow
1937 BMW 308
1937 Cord 810/812
1937 Talbot Lago T150-SS
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C2900B
1949 Delahaye 175S
1948 Cisitilia 202
1949 Citroen 2CV
1949 Landrover S1
1949 Porsche 356
1953 Mercedes Benz 300SLR coupe
1954 Kaiser Darrin
1955 Fiat Multipla
1957 Lotus Elite
1961 Jaguar E Type
1963 Corvette Stingray
1966 Lamborghini Muira
1966 Toyota 2000GT
1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S
1967 Jaguar Pirana
1967 Bizzarini 5300 GT
1969 Ferrari 512 S
1970 Ferrari Modulo
1970 Stratos HF Zero
1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech
1992 Jaguar XJ220
1995 Ford GT90
2001 VW W12
2010 Porsche 918 Spyder concept
The author has attempted a reasonably comprehensive review in order to achieve a fair critical comparison.
By accident some of our subscribers may feel that there have been omissions. If this is the case please forward details.
As impartial and reasonably academic examination we will make inclusions which can only serve to improve the exercise.
Should any subscriber wish to see a specific model researched in detail again please forward a request [either from those listed or another example.
When it comes to design this is my favorite…
Photo courtesy of the Lotus Eleven Register
5. Lotus books one for the library.
Starting from Scratch .1954* [ price 3/6]
Loud Pedal. 1956* do
An Autosport Publication. London
Introduction by Gregor Grant, Editor of Autosport.
The editor believes these little volumes are worthy of mention on several levels of interest.
They capture the era with precision and humour and are complementary to photographs and reports. They are also form a short hand for the mores of the era.
As such they help anyone attempting to recreate atmosphere.
They are worthy inclusions and have a cross over with our section on Motor Sport Art.
Motor Racing can be extremely dangerous and technical .It is refreshing to see it with a funny perspective and this overlaps with other book reviews we have provided on humour in the sport.
Raymond Groves has been underestimated and its nice to record his relative achievement
In Loud Pedal many of the cars portrayed are easily identified as Lotus Elevens.
The editor was assisted in this article by looking up Raymond Groves on the Internet.
It is believed that Groves was born c 1913 and that he was second son of Walter Groves founding editor of “Motor”.
He may have studied at Regent Street Polytechnic in London. It’s possible that he was apprenticed to Bryan De Grineau [see our Art in Motor sport series]. Groves was a soldier during the Second World War.
His most creative period was during the 1940’s and 50’s and his work is redolent of Fleet Street cartoon style of this period.
Groves was a versatile artist. He worked in watercolours and his work has appeared at auction. He also attempted portraits, landscape, murals, posters and various commissions including Christmas Cards.
Raymond Groves did not achieve the same acclaim as Russell Brockbank but in many respects he was an equal talent. Some of the work in period was sexist as the postcards of McGill and full of suggestion and innuendo. His sketches are able to capture and characterize the “usual suspects “ of the era. The pretty girls, arch-enthusiast, know-alls, little Hitler’s and simple souls and the all the officials and mechanics associated with motor sport. [In fact Tales from the Toolbox would be a complementary read]
His work conforms to the principle of a good cartoon in that captions are rarely needed. They are fully self-explanatory. Neither does he hurt or insult but looks at the funny side and often the bad luck of others in which we rejoice.
Gregor Grant suggests much of the value of his work is that it also helps explain much of the manners of the English, which is achieved through his facile pen and pencil.
Starting from Scratch and Loud Pedal
The jacket covers to both are steeped in the cartoonists cannon. Graphic image and restricted colour palette. In these two cases red, yellow and black on white paper. Signed with Raymond Groves’s distinctive signature in bottom right hand side.
The author can reverse the process and with a few simple words or sentences conjure visual images before the reader.
1.Two single seat GP cars on starting line. Starter holding up sign indicating two minutes to go. One driver calmly, unperturbed, nonchalantly smokes a quality cigar.
2.A cold winter snow covered race day. An enthusiast [and his wife] duffle coat, cloth cap pipe and bushy moustache warms his feet on the external radiator of the Vanwall. Mechanic looks exasperated.
3.Driver of central seat cooper Bobtail operates a wire hand signal semaphore
4. London to Brighton run. Group in veteran car pass by. Two teddy boys forced to look up, laugh and jeer. Occupants look down in mild toleration. No comment to this item all said in body language.
5.In 1956 edition there are both direct and indirect references to Lotus Elevens.
One depicts a Le Mans start. The Lotus driver is seen to continue running along the bonnet. The suggestion being the car is so low there is nothing to climb over.
6. Lotus collectables
Lotus 7 Jigsaw
7. Lotus interest on YouTube
One item on Youtube maybe of interest our readers
Thank you for your continued interest and support
Editors of the newsletter
Jamie Duncan (webmaster)