Colin Chapman Museum and Education Centre Newsletter August 2011

Newsletter – Number 32

  1. Lotus around and about
  2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of: The Juan Manuel Fangio Car Racing Museum
  3. Questions from our readers (with some answers for a change!)
  4. Crystal Palace report
  5. Frank Costin
  6. Lotus books one for the library
  7. Lotus collectables
  8. Lotus interest on YouTube

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

1.Lotus around and about

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2 Museums around the world you may not have heard of:The Juan Manuel Fangio Car Racing Museum

The Juan Manuel Fangio Car Racing Museum pays tribute to the quintuple Formula One World Champion and summarizes the history of car racing in a dynamic display of over 50 cars

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The Juan Manuel Fangio Museum is one of those museums one should not miss, as it shows car racing not only as a sports discipline but also as an Argentinian passion. In an amusing and documented way, the life of Juan Manuel Fangio, alias “the bowlegged man”, the most famous son of Balcarce, is told in chronological order since his childhood, through the history of the first repair shop he opened with his friend José Duffard, his beginnings as a pilot in 1936, the championships he won in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957 and his memorable races until he retired.

The first great impact when one enters the museum is generated by a giant cup located in the entrance hall. It is a gift the Rosario’s Argentinian Association of Driving Wheels gave to Fangio when he returned to the country after becoming World Champion for the fourth time. The impressive award is as high and as heavy as Fangio was in those days. Likewise, the five prizes corresponding to the world championships he won are displayed in this sector, as well as some objects such as boots, gloves and goggles worn by the pilot during the competitions

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The tour starts going up the ramps that emulate the race track. The museum, which occupies a total surface of 4,600 square meters, is divided into six levels: “Men and machines, the passion for road racing”, where road racing cars from those days are displayed; “The old repair shop”; “Courage, perseverance and driving talent”, which recalls the period 1936/1948 including the Northern Great International Prize; “Friend, idol and master of us all”, which contains cars and historical facts about great car racing pilots; in “New champions”, the cars presently used in road racing are shown; and, last but not least, “Maximum speed to the world summit” summarizes the period between 1951 and 1958 and displays the legendary Silver Arrow, a W 196 Mercedes Benz with an engine of 8 cilinders arranged side by side which, due to its stylized design, catches everyone’s attention.

In addition to the cars, each level shows trophies, badges and documents related to each period.

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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 answers to various questions

Hi, my father has a signed menu from 1970 at the Savoy, signed by Colin Chapman, Graham Hill, Sterling Moss and Innes Ireland, which he now wishes to sell. Could you let me know if you would be interested or if you know of anyone who would be interested, thanks.
I look forward to your reply,

Please let me know if you are interested and I will forward your details to the owner.

Yes I am, please send them my contact details
( could the person who originally wrote to us please contact us)

I wonder if you could help me, I have a built up vehicle listed on the original logbook as an Austin Scorpion sports tourer, a petrol engined 747cc 2 seater sports car, chassis, frame or car number being SYCC 113/3144009 and an engine number of M119 167, date of 1st registration 1962.
I have been informed that it could possibly be a Colin Chapman or Brabham, any information you could give me would be much appreciated.

This does not have the appearance of any Lotus cars of the era for example, it is not very aerodynamic behind the front wheels. By 1962, Lotus were making their own cars, so it is very doubtful that Colin Chapman woudl have been involved.

What does Lotus stand for?

Only Hazel Chapman and possibly Clive know the real answer. One other often used explanation is that before building his own cars, Colin used to fix up old cars and on sell them. He bought cars that had failed to sell at auctions. The cars had Lot numbers on them with the number crossed out and u/s added to designate unsold. So he was buying a Lot u/s.

S1 Elite paint colour

Can you send me a jpeg, I can send to a friend who will know the colours for sure.
( could the person who originally wrote to us please contact us)

i have an old car that i believe is some sort of lotus but i don’t know how to find out can you steer me in some direction , have sent some pics

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Seems to be an old Six/Seven inspired design. and if LHD even more unlikley.

Many thanks to Guy Stevens for his help.

4. Crystal Palace Report.



The weather was bright and sunny with a cooling breeze on both days. This possibly contributed to high attendance, the relaxed family atmosphere and the ability to picnic. The bright light helps photography and provided surface for maximum traction and visibility. The competition was high quality and entertaining.


Ample variety was present through car clubs, cars competing and their classes. The North Kent Lotus club adjacent to A&R had a nice selection of cars on both days. The Brooklands Motor Cycle collection was dramatic with working displays and hit the spot with full on sensory appeal with the aroma of Castrol R drifting in the air.

The A&R Stand Theme

Adopted the theme of “Lotus at Crystal Place” and demonstrated this with a scale model of the track supported with photo archive and past programmes. Many of the public were not aware of Lotus history in north London and the proximity of Crystal Palace.
In addition we had a copy of the planning application and draft of the Museum guide book.
The A&R promotes the wide raging design skills of Colin Chapman and to this end we had the components of the Ford beam axle as modified to semi independent front suspension as fixed to the Mk.VI and a model of the fibre glass utility furniture that Colin marketed as Line Lotus.
Due to the great generosity of Nigel and John who allowed the public to sit in their cars a considerable number of photographs were taken and many children became more interested. Parents were particularly appreciative [one mother thanked me and came back a second later in the day] and I felt we had achieved a remarkable PR exercise.
We provided a mixture of entertainment and education.

Thanks To

  • Nigel Edwards [companionship and presentation of Elan]
  • John Lovell [companionship and presentation of Seven S3]
  • Jason and Shelley [Sevenoaks &District Motor club – event organisers]
  • John Oakley [assistance and advice]
  • “Greg” Gregory[manning stand and background support]
  • Neil Duncan [attendance and joint editor A&R]


The atmosphere was rather special. This I believe is attributed to the wide mix of the public attending, the freedom of movement, the family friendly availability and space between displays. Many disabled people were able to attend including wheel chair users. The event is very affordable and provides excellent value for money and is easily reached by public transport.
The atmosphere was redolent of Crystal Palace heyday.
The mixture of racing and static display works well.
The editor recorded a fabulous range of cars that exceeded expectation. The highlights were:

  • Pre-war racing MG’s,Riley’s and Wolseley Specials
  • Ballamy V8 [see A&R article on Les Ballamy] also the contemporary Allards
  • Cooper single seater and Bobtails
  • Pre-war Fiat sports cars
  • Chaparral Sports Racing car
  • Bugatti

Many of the cars both competing and on display including the A&R stand had bonnets up and further technical photography was possible e.g. Dry sump on John Lovell’s Seven S3.

Well Laid Out

Congratulations to Sevenoaks club. The event was clearly marked out and adequate space was available and logistics were easy allowing quick assembly of stands etc. The format built anticipation. The bowl of the paddock is tree lined and the relaxed mingling atmosphere echoed a lost age of the best of British motor sport.
The track and viewing area provides some drama, Spectacle and is photo friendly. Within a small space some challenges are provided and engine notes carry across the event enticing and inviting inspection and building anticipation of cars unseen but recognised from engine note.
The event provides ample and generous Drama and visual Appeal and many drivers can be seen working the wheel at the prominent hair pin.

International Visitors

A number of European visitors were interested in our proposals. We were able to increase the impact of their holiday and through the planning application [now expired] show them where the Hornsey works were located.


We went with a simple hand out introducing the public to the A&R website. There were many instances where the public expected this and on other occasions a request emerged or was volunteered after a conversation. Significantly no one thought the proposal unattractive.

Analysis of Crystal Palace 2011 and Projections for 2012

The editor has spent some time analysing and evaluating the event. Some of the criteria used are;

  • What was liked and not liked
  • What was used or taken away and by whom: families, enthusiasts and international visitors
  • Level of knowledge and particular interest
  • Impact of cars and other display items [photogenic appeal] the site model and orientation / introduction to period. etc
  • Appreciation of participation opportunities
  • Logistics of set up and costs relative to impact.
  • The advantage of proximity to complementary clubs and the ability to “Borrow”
  • Observation of other stands e.g. Brookland Motorcycles
  • Weighing evidence from other shows
  • Brain storming feedback and experience into future displays

The editor’s thoughts for next year include:

  • Consider anniversaries but avoid overkill and over exposure
  • Adopt criteria of Maximum impact with easy construction, relevance to Crystal Palace, relevance to audience; availability of complementary cars/ materials.
  • Mock up car , possibly simulator type or kiddies racing car with learning opportunity
  • Feature Lotus drivers who excelled at Crystal Palace
  • Explore safety in motor sport
  • 2012 Olympic Year consider theme and international tourism dimension.

Rehearsal, Planning and Logistics

  • Obtain permissions from organisers where appropriate
  • Short list supporters and possible sponsors including fall back situation
  • Run through rehearsal
  • Don’t be over ambitious, consider impact of weather.

Invitation to A&R subscribers

The editors welcome suggestions from subscribers and invitations to attend.

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5. Frank Costin

Contemporaries and Peers

Frank Costin [1920 -1995] and his Designs for Lotus


In this article we examine the work of Frank Costin and describe his work for Colin Chapman and Lotus.
Frank Costin made a significant contribution to Lotus at a time when the application of his scientific principles allied to Chapman’s chassis and suspension design helped compensate for the less powerful engines available to Lotus.

Frank Costin was a good applied engineer and extrapolated technologies in particular materials and aerodynamic principles from aircraft where he started his career. Its possible that some of his major designs might have been inspired by the Mosquito and Comet which was under development at the time when he worked for de Havilland.

He quoted

“Applied aerodynamics is a combination of knowing physical laws, a great deal of experience and the right feel”

Frank Albert Costin was born on the 8th June 1920 in London. He was the first of four children .He was always very close to his brother Mike. In later life both brothers would be associated with Colin Chapman. [Mike would become famous for his partnership with Kith Duckworth forming Cosworth Engineering]

Frank had a “gift for acute observation, quick analysis and remarkable understanding”

Like Chapman he had a streak of non-conformity whilst aspiring to academic excellence. Frank preferred applied engineering where he could engage both hands and mind and have total responsibility.

From our analysis it will be evident that Costin’s ideas were extremely forward thinking particularly in the area of petrol / fuel efficiency extracted through aerodynamic design. His concepts and principles live on and in may respects have been copied or inspirational in many modern day city car designs.
Readers will also be aware of the significance of aerodynamics in current FI. Costin and Chapman were not the first but applied critical analysis and were committed protagonists.

Frank Costin possibly did not get all the credit he deserved. It’s hoped that this article will provide a perspective.

This article will be used as focus for a more detailed analysis of aerodynamic principles to follow.

Frank Costin: CV

Frank Costin was a gifted versatile engineer, thinker and industrial designer specialising in aerodynamics. He was also a cultivated man and competent musician and composer. As a young man he was a talented athlete [swimming] Like Chapman he enjoyed flying, gliding, sailing and with friends built a glider called Condor c 1949.His close friends included Ron Clear, Bert Parslow and Peter Davis. He started early working as an aircraft fitter but soon found promotion. By 1951 he was Flight Test Engineer [in charge of the Experimental Dept] at de Havilland and promoted in 1953 to Engineer in Charge [Aerodynamic Flight Test Dept; Chester]

His career included employment with:

  • General Aircraft
  • Airspeed [Oxford]
  • Supermarine
  • Percival Aircraft Co.
  • Folland Airspeed
  • De Havilland
  • Costin Drake [General Consultancy]
  • Family base consultancy towards the end of his life.

His design work included:

  • Costing-Nathan Group 6 Sports Racing Car c 1965 and GT coupe
  • Protos E2 single seater racing car with Brian Hart
  • Vanwall GP Racing car
  • Lister Jaguar sports racing car with Low drag body and space frame chassis
  • March 711 single seater racing car c 1971
  • Airport crash tender
  • 4WD vehicle for JCB
  • Caravan
  • Motor boats
  • TMC Costin sports car c 1983
  • Light weight aircraft and micro lights
  • Marcos GT c 1959 [world first wooden monococque]
  • Costin Amigo c 1968
  • Spacecraft
  • Bob-sleighs
  • Orthopaedic chair
  • The Ultimate Low Drag Vehicle
  • Maserati Le Mans Coupe c 1957
  • Costin Shopping Car
  • Costin Walker F4 [modular space frame c 1974 patent]
  • The Ultra Economy Car c 1975
  • Single Seater / mono road car
  • Costin Sports Roadster c 1990’s
  • Dragonfly Glider.
  • NACA duct

Costin Designs Explained

The Marcos GT. [1959]

This small sports car was the first to be built with laminated 1/8” marine plywood and spruce bonded with synthetic glue monococque chassis. The concept was inherently strong and comprised three torsion boxes running long ways and three across the car. These were linked together by he stressed floor. Also in wood were the boot and doors. It’s possible that it might have been partly inspired by the Mosquito aircraft of the Second World War. Strength and lightness were primary considerations.
Its believed the first prototype was registered DFF 529 and powered by an 1172cc Ford side valve engine. Costin designed the suspension based on Triumph Herald components. The coupe design incorporated a fixed roof and gull wing doors and by practical necessity a fairly crude windscreen and side screens. The overall weight is thought to between 8cwt- 9.75 cwt approximately.
Frank Costin joined in partnership with Jem Marsh [Speedex Castings and Accessories] and Peter and Dennis Adams to construct the car. Costin formed the Monocoque Chassis and Body Co and started assembly in North Wales.
The name Marcos was a derivative of surnames.

The Amigo [1968]

This sports car was based on the plywood monococque chassis with glass fibre outer skin. The basic chassis was similar in principle to the Marcos GT. It is estimated the Amigo chassis weighed 187 lbs. The mechanical parts were from the Vauxhall VX 4/90 Victor or SL 1975 cc engine [96bhp -108 estimated]. As standard the engine was canted over which contributed to the low bonnet line.
The car as expected was very low and long [13’-7”x 5”-5” wide approx] and aerodynamic with a distinctive Kamm tail and flying buttress from the rear of the cabin. The windscreen was flush fitted .The efficiency of the body allowed performance figures of 130 mph, 0-60 in 7.2 seconds and 30mpg at 60mph approximately. The seats were of curved plywood.
The car was expensive. £3,326 in 1970. It had some very attractive practical features but also some significant drawbacks. It required development.

Lotus Designs

The Lotus Mk. VIII etc

A fundamental principle of aerodynamics is that there is a correlation between resistance speed and power. In the early Lotus trial cars with their low speed there was little requirement for drag reduction however this changed when circuit racing was entered.
When Chapman decided to compete in International level racing he realised that he would be forced into some practical concessions particularly around engine performance and that these would need compensation. To be successful both handling and aerodynamics would have to be superior to the opposition. Also the open wheel cars were prohibited by the regulations.
Great care in design and execution were required as streamlined bodies also increased weight and required additional breaking and cooling as a result of the additional speeds they achieved.
Mike Costin introduced his brother Frank to Colin Chapman c 1954 and they collaborated on the Lotus Mk.VIII.
Costin’s primary design objectives were:

  • Safety and stability at speed [driver safety/ protection]
  • Stable handling platform in roll. Yaw and pitch [see A&R article on Aerodynamic principles and terms]
  • Inherent balance
  • Effective Centre of Pressure
  • Reverse camber line
  • Low frontal area

These were translated into detailed design and incorporated:

  • Very low nose for good air penetration
  • Twin tail fins
  • Fairings over rear wheels
  • Full length under tray
  • Metal tonneau over passenger side of cockpit
  • Small Perspex screen
  • Fully ducted radiator and brake cooling
  • Sophisticated parabolic curves and radii contouring of body [see A&R article on Williams and Pritchard]

The overall design was based around the major mechanical parameters, suspension movement etc. The completed body was 156” long x 55’wide x32 high at scuttle. The car weighted 10.25 cwt [approximately weights and measures]
Costin conducted scientific tests to compare the actual performance with his theoretical calculations. There are a series of photographs at disused aerodrome where the experiments were conducted. In one Costin strapped himself to the car to observe airflow.
The experiments involved a pressure head and additional readings were recorded on instruments comprising altimeters, air speed indicators and vertical speed indicators.

As a suggestion of the aerodynamic performance the editor quotes from a John Bolster road test. [Note the Mk.VIII was fitted with a M.G. 1467 cc engine equipped with Laystall alloy cylinder head. Estimated output of 85 bhp at 6200 rpm.]

Max speed: 121mph
0-60=8 seconds
0-100=23.8 “
Standing quarter mile =15.5 “
Estimated fuel consumption =30mpg.

The Mk.VIII had some defects and these were amended in the MK IX. [1955] Costin made the body:

  • Shorter overall length
  • Altered tail fins to compensate
  • Reshaped nose detail
  • Drop down hinged doors
  • Lower wrapped round Perspex screen
  • Reduced drag and weight
  • Length 142” width 56” height 27 ‘ at scuttle. Approximate. [Weight varied depending on engine]

At Le Mans the Mk.IX is believed to have reached approximately 130mph on the Mulsane straight. The Mk.IX was both a commercial and competition success. It used a variety of engines including he Coventry Climax and M.G.

Lotus Eleven [1956]

The Eleven was a logical development of the Mk.VIII &IX. There was a new space frame and the swing axle was lowered.
Chapman insured the lowest and most practical frontal area was achieved by canting the Coventry climax engine over. This could be cared through to the scuttle.

Costin’s design for the Eleven included;

  • Dramatically smooth overall shape
  • Teardrop in pan [front to rear
  • Use of parabolic curves e.g. radiator opening
  • Reverse camber longitudinally for stability
  • Streamlined headlamp covers of Perspex
  • Partially enclosed wheels to reduce turbulence
  • Cockpit in elongated teardrop [plan view] with wrap around screen to prevent buffeting
  • More steeply swept nose and tail
  • Tailfins reduced to wings
  • Metal tonneau passenger side
  • Head fairing available on some models
  • Costin’s attention to detail also saw him invent the inflated air bag to act an alternative tonneau to prevent turbulence in the open cockpit.
  • The Monza World Record Car had further aerodynamic enhancements including a totally enclosed canopy over the cockpit and special attention to panel joints.

The Autocar Road Test of Nov.1956 recorded the following data [1100cc engine]
Max speed: 111.75mph
0-60mph: 10.9 sec
0-100mph: 38.9”
Standing quarter mile: 17.9”
Overall fuel consumption 47.8mpg. Kerb weight 9.1cwt approx
Approx measurements:
Wheel base 7’-1”
Front track: 3’-10. 5”
Rear track: 11’-2”
Overall width: 5’-00”

Le Mans speeds at Mulsane:
1500cc: 128.2mph

The Lotus Elite [1957]

The Elite was born as Chapman’s attempt to enter a new league of production sports car. This was probably driven by considerations of financial security, cash flow for the GP racing programme, a response to a new 1300 CT category of racing and a genuine desire to evolve into a more sophisticated and advanced car production.

Chapman set the main parameters and criteria; mechanical specification and suspension.

The body design resulted from an interchange of ideas and practicality between Chapman, Frayling, Cambridge, Hickman and Kirwan-Taylor. Significantly and ambitiously the chassis and body were to be monocque construction.

Aerodynamic refinements that Costin introduced were probably more considerable than admitted and included:

  • A reverse camber line “ invisible centre line”
  • Refined front end nose detail to improve penetration
  • Refined wing line
  • Side screen flush with posts
  • Insistence on continuous under tray
  • There is some evidence that Costin suggested the partial Kamm tail.

On completion Costin projected that the Elite’s CD would be near 0.30.In 1962 at MIRA it was measured at 0.336

The Elite was an aesthetic masterpiece.
Approx: Weights and measures:
Length: 148”
Width: 59:
Height 46.5”
Weight: 1484 lbs


Flying on Four Wheels
Dennis Ortenburger.
Patrick Stephens 1986

Fast Cars
Giles Chapman
WH Smith/ Sutton Publishing 2003
ISBN: 0750935081

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Picture courtesy of Motorbase

6. Lotus books one for the library.



Date: 26/02/2011
Title: World Car Catalogue. Models of 1967 and 1968.
Author: Edited by Sergio D’ Angelo
Publisher &Date: Automobile club of Italy. Iliffe Books Ltd, London.

The A&R has just acquired two volumes in the series. Both are hardback with dust jacket and supplements.
The objective of the A&R is to disseminate and research material relating to Colin Chapman and Lotus Cars. The secondary objective is to objectively assess the achievements of Chapman by comparison and analysis.
The World Car Catalogues make a major contribution to this as their format permits a consistent comparison from an international cross section of manufacturers.
These books are extremely factual but also contain extremely good photographs in black and white and colour. These are enhances with technical drawings, diagrams. Each book has the following:

  • A brief biography of each manufacturer
  • Index of manufacturers names
  • Index by country
  • Index by speed
  • Index by price

The specification of each car is uniform and provides ease of cross-reference. The headings adopted are:

  • Brief specification and price
  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Chassis
  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Dimensions and Weights.
  • Body
  • Performance
  • Practical Instructions [settings]
  • Variations and Optional Accessories

The editor would select for interest these examples from the 1968 edition:

  • Fiat Abarth 595 SS
  • Fiat Abarth OT 1300 Coupe
  • Alpine Berlinete Tour de France
  • Bizzarrini GT Europa 1900 * [little publicised]
  • Bizzarrini GT Strada 5300
  • Fiat Giardiniera
  • Glass 1300 GT
  • Lamborghini P400
  • Lotus Elan Coupe
  • Lotus Europa
  • Lotus Elan 2+2
  • Mini Marcos GT 850
  • Marcos 1500
  • Mazda 110S Cosmo Sport
  • Oldsmobile Toronado
  • Sabra Sport Coupe
  • Sovram 1300GS
  • Toyota 2000 GT Coupe
  • TVR Vixen 1600
  • Sabaru 360 De Lux Sedan.


  • Fiat Abarth 2000
  • Alfa Romeo 33
  • Alpine Renault Gordini
  • Lola Aston Martin
  • Chaparral 2F
  • Ferrari 330 P4
  • Ford GT 40 Mk IV
  • Porsche 910

Special Coachwork

  • Bertone: Fiat 850 Convertible Lusso
  • Lamborghini: Marzal
  • Ghia: De Tomaso Mangusta
  • Pininfarina: BMC Aerodynamic Saloon
  • Ferrari Dino 206 GT

These volumes are extremely useful reference material and perhaps balance on the cusp of change at the end of the 1960’s Renaissance in motorcar design and manufacture. They are of importance to designers, historians [social, technical, commercial] and provide a resource to other creative arts and media.
They have also entered the library at a time when we shortly run a series of articles that will draw upon their contents.
The editor would recommend that these volumes might also be studied in context of the www.carblueprints website which will permit an almost entire physical, technical, aesthetic and design appreciation to be conducted.

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Note. This is the front cover of the 1969 edition rather than the 67/68.

Extracts and information from the A&R library available on request.

7. Lotus collectables

Scalextric Traing C63 French Lotus

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8. Lotus interest on “Youtube”

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

2010 Lotus Evora – Road Test – Car and Driver (London to Rome)

Thank you for your continued interest and support

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