Matra Datavision: from the drawing board to the keyboard and onto the dashboard

Sponsor, Brands, Specialists and Suppliers: The Companies that supported the Chapman /Lotus Road & Racing Programme

Matra Datavision: from the drawing board to the keyboard and onto the dashboard


Lotus cars sold

They were bought for their:-

  • Performance –road or track
  • Driving pleasure
  • Reputation and image
  • Aesthetics
  • Symbolism
  • Owner identification /personality extension etc.

All the above were integrated within a total framework design.

The above list is heavily dependent on a select group of components [either bought in proprietary or in house manufacture] that delivered the desired outcomes and met strict criteria.

Many of these components often contributed significantly to the overall aesthetic, many are extremely functional and beautiful in their own right .They formed part of a complementary whole.

In this series we examine:-

  • significant Individual components from all the marque types
  • Briefly explain their role /contribution /evaluation
  • Analysis form and function with regard to their integration, where appropriate
  • Provide suppliers/specialist advertising materials where appropriate

Understanding Lotus’s use of proprietary parts provides invaluable learning opportunities not just historical but right up to the present day. These lessons are not just applicable to automotive engineers/ designers but to the wider Industrial /Product Design professions.

The Skillful and creative adoption, absorption and integration of components was a powerful factor in the Chapman design methodology and contributed significantly to both competition and commercial success. It also feed his ability to mutate parts and materials to his desired ends.

The use of components is a fundamental skill of the Industrial Designer and the direct provision of added value.

The exact interpretation of sponsorship in conjunction with Lotus is difficult to establish objectively. The appearance of a sponsor’s logo on a car is not necessarily evidence of financial support. Access to historical archive and contracts is sought wherever possible but with the passage of time and for various reasons these are not always available or accessible to the public.

This series also embraces the specialist suppliers to Lotus. We are particularly interested in those suppliers and products that have a connectivity with aviation.

In constructing the historic sponsor series, the A&R looks only at the logos worn in period and assumes the company involved had no objection to Lotus promoting their products. The A&R sees much to be gained by the wider promotion of sponsors but in the event that a specific organization disapproves for any reason that article will be removed.

Sponsorship is an instrument of mutual benefit and promotion. Subscribers might like to see A&R articles on Sponsorship and Product Placement to understand the numerical / financial reach provided by sponsorship with its ability to identify and project status through identification.

The principle continues particularly with regard to education based exhibitions [see below for details]

Each of these articles is devoted to a company/ organization that is believed to have sponsored or supplied specialist items to Lotus.

The intention of each article is to: –

  1. Explain the sponsors own history and outline their products and services – past-present and future
  2. Explain the historical connection with Lotus and the contribution made both in competition and the production cars
  3. To suggest how these two interlocking facets may be translated into exciting, interpretive, educational and commercial exhibitions

Subscribers might to see complementary and structured pieces to this article: –

  • Primary sponsors like Gold Leaf / John Player Specials
  • Product Placement
  • Separate dedicated series on engines and gearbox
  • Logo on Lotus

CAD: Computer Aided Design

“Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computers (or workstations) to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.[1] CAD software is used to increase the productivity of the designer, improve the quality of design, improve communications through documentation, and to create a database for manufacturing.[2] CAD output is often in the form of electronic files for print, machining, or other manufacturing operations. The term CADD (for Computer Aided Design and Drafting) is also used.[3]

CAD is mainly used for detailed engineering of 3D models or 2D drawings of physical components, but it is also used throughout the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies to definition of manufacturing methods of components. It can also be used to design objects such as jewelry, furniture, appliances, etc. Furthermore, many CAD applications now offer advanced rendering and animation capabilities so engineers can better visualize their product designs. 4D BIM is a type of virtual construction engineering simulation incorporating time or schedule related information for project management.

CAD has become an especially important technology within the scope of computer-aided technologies, with benefits such as lower product development costs and a greatly shortened design cycle. CAD enables designers to layout and develop work on screen, print it out and save it for future editing, saving time on their drawings.”

Matra Datavision Company Profile /Abbreviated summary

“Euclid is a CAD software which has been developed since 1970. Initially written by Jean Marc Brun and Michel Théron at Laboratoire d’informatique pour la mécanique et les sciences de l’ingénieur (LIMSI) for modelling fluid flow, they founded their own company, Datavision in 1979 and then sold a controlling interest in 1980 to the French company Matra Datavision.[1]

Matra then developed EUCLID QUANTUM, [2] a new generation in 1996, on the CAS.CADE (Computer Aided Software for Computer Aided Design and Engineering) platform. As in 1998 Matra Datavision specialized in software service provider, Dassault Systèmes acquired QUANTUM products : Euclid Styler and Euclid Machinist.[3]

In 1999 Matra Datavision published CAS.CADE in open source on the Internet as Open CASCADE later renamed to Open CASCADE Technology.[4]

The BRL-CAD CAD software imports and exports to the EUCLID file format.[5]

See also:

In the Chapman/Lotus era the Company was identified with:-

Matra Datavision (UK & France)

Supply of advanced CAD-CAM system to design department

In Lotus perspective Slater writing of the Lotus 98T of 1986 observed of the Electronic revolution:

“Perhaps the fastest moving area of progress in the era of the Lotus 97/98T was in the use of electronics. The advance extended from the development of new integral digital systems controlling ignition and fuel injection to on car data acquisition and the first portable computers in the pit garages.

It should be remembered that when the Lotus 97T was being designed, it was still hand drawn on a drawing board….”

Thus by the Lotus 109 of 1994 Lotus was using CAD.

Lotus Connections

The Matra Datavision logo is seen on the Lotus 109 and other records confirm their supply or support relating to CAD.

Technical specifications from Taylor:

Model Lotus 109
Function F1
Year 1994
Volume 3
Engine Mugen-Honda ZA5C 72 degree V10
C.C. 3498
Carburation Electronic fuel injection
Power Output bhp 750
Transmission Transverse Lotus/Xtrac 6 speed semi-auto
Chassis Carbon fibre skinned aluminium honeycomb
sandwich monocoque
Body Carbon fibre one-piece top section+ undertray
Front Suspension Fabricated steel wishbones,carbon fibre push
rod to inboard coil spring dampers
Rear Suspension as for front suspension .with option for
front and rear anti-roll bars
Brakes F/R Outboard ventilated carbon fibre discs
Wheels F/R 13×11/13×13.75in
Tyres F/R Goodyear Eagle radials
Length [inches] 173
Width [inches] 78.75
Height [inches] 39.5
Wheelbase [inches] 118
Track F/R [inches] 65/63
Weight -lbs 1112

Figure 1: Image from the net, Lotus 109 note brand name Matra data vision included on lowest point of body side

Period Address for economic geography exercise

Matra Data Vision,

Believed to have been in France, but editors do not have exact address.

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.

Understanding the potential of componentry particularly proprietary items provides some of the following learning opportunities; in this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-

Specific to Datavision

  • The Lotus 109 was international in componentry and sponsors ,list those sponsors and compare with peers of the 1994 season (use template guide at appendix below )
  • How might you go about establishing manufacturers budgets in F1, 1994 season for purpose of attributing success?
  • What are the current functions performed by CAD in F1?
  • Give some examples of CAD in Industrial Design
  • How are CAD applications taught in Britain’s educational establishments?
  • Which successful F1 designers have used both mechanical and CAD techniques?
  • What if any is the interface between CAD and aerodynamic research in F1?
  • Using template basic engineering drawing of Lotus Seven in appendix estimate time and cost of its production, how does it compare with Computer? Is there any evidence that soul and aesthetics have been compromised or diluted since computerisation?
  • What is the size and value of the CAD industry
  • How has it changed? And what is its future 2020 onwards?
  • Discuss the relationship with a multi-national mass-production brand/manufacturer and its links, how and why did it come into existence?


  • Use a technical dictionary where needed to define components and roles
  • Was there a viable alternative to the part under consideration?
  • Is what might it have been /cost?
  • Examine the suppliers/specialist advertising what does it convey? And what is its iconography?
  • Integrate this item with our series on the economic geography of motor sports locations and manufacturing bases
  • Has the component had exposure at any motor shows?
  • Does the company continue to supply classic/heritage parts?
  • What changes in technology and materials have impacted on Lotus through its history?
  • How does component design impact on form and function
  • Does the supplier/specialist have aviation links? If so what?
  • What is the importance of ergonomics and how does it influence modern automobile design?
  • Does excessive safety/ and or ergonomics impact negatively on aesthetics
  • What is the impact of standardization of platforms through mark ranges and indeed shared with other manufacturers? Could uniformity ultimately impact on sales even if economies of scale improved?
  • Enumerate Lotus bought in components
  • How has mass production and proprietary parts assisted the specialist car market?
  • Produce an engineering drawing of a selected component and consider the specification of the materials and assembly process, costs and volume
  • Explore an enumerate supplier/specialists components used in other Industrial Design fields
  • How did the supplier/specialist extract value from their sponsorship/support?
  • Explore Graces Guide for further background detail
  • Study the economic geography of the British auto industry what factors determined locations?
  • What have been the causes of change and circumstance that have impacted on British motor industry?
  • What has been the role of F1 /motor sport valley based around Bicester?
  • What is the importance of outsourcing to the motor industry?
  • Study a British car specialist like Morgan, TVR, Ginetta or Lotus where do they source parts? What are the advantages?

Exhibitions, Education, Economics and Entertainment

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 suggest the following exhibition titles might be appropriate:-


Matra Datavision Dodging the Draft
Matra Datavision Computers and conception
Matra Datavision Computer Visionary
Matra Datavision Mechanics work with the Toolbar
Matra Datavision It’s been a hard drive Night
Matra Datavision Monocoque and the Mainframe
Matra Datavision F1 racing on the circuit board
Matra Datavision Power from the search engine
Matra Datavision from the drawing board to the keyboard and onto the dashboard
Matra Datavision From pencil outline to on line
Matra Datavision Blueprints demise following computer delineation


  • Lotus Parts: Past ,Present Future
  • Lotus Parts: The Winning Factor
  • The Principle Part
  • Act the Part
  • Assign the Part
  • Lotus Components
  • Lotus Components :Parts and Parcel
  • Lotus Sponsors, Specialist and Suppliers:Form,Function and Forte
  • Lotus Components:Parts and Partiality
  • Lotus Aesthetics : With little to spare
  • Lotus Cars: Spare and Slender
  • Product launch with title of dedicated specific relevance

Conclusion: “The whole is greater………”

Lotus to the 1990’s and early 21st. Century

The editors follow Taylor’s example and primarily trace Lotus development into the 1990’s.

We do so for the following reasons:

  • To study continuity and benchmarking between the eras of Chapman and note the evolutionary trends with changing technologies and related factors
  • We attempt to be comprehensive and inclusive attempting to avoid over concentration on this halcyon era
  • Although less equipped to discuss the advanced technologies we attempt to provide a coverage, thereby addressing generational perspectives

Cimarosti sums up nicely:

“The Lotus Team had its final season in 1994.It had made its GP debut in 1958 with Graham Hill at Monaco with the Mk. 12 with a front engine.

The Team of Lotus managed by Peter Collins designed the 109 under Peter Wright and Chris Murphy.

It was actually a modernised version of the 107. The Mugen Honda V10 engine ZA -5C was still being used in 1993 by Footwork but was considered rather heavy….

In the middle of September the firm went bankrupt ….In 1995 the Lotus team was finally dissolved, and one of the most famous GP teams in history disappeared.

During its long career Lotus had always been the one to set the tone, particularly in the time of its founder Colin Chapman, whose ideas had radically influenced the design of racing cars….

Even after hitting death Lotus had been successful thanks to the great talents of Ayrton Senna.”

Japanese contribution:

Figure 2

Datavision sponsored Lotus in the last stages of their linkages back to Chapman.

Taylor records of Lotus in their 37 seasons in the background context of the type 109. In the 1990’s Lotus were not fully competitive and were suffering finance difficulties in the F1 programme.

It’s important to explore Honda‘s involvement in motorsport to the present day.

We suspect that the possibility many Japanese industries sponsored Lotus because of the Honda engine.They possibly did this from loyalty but also significant commercial advantage.National interests have played an important role in the history of motor sport and this ought be studied for its multi-faceted interactions.

Although our economic geography exercise tends to concentrate on the UK, it’s important to recognise changing manufacturing patterns and locations, the causes and effects.

There can be little doubt about the contribution made by Data Vision ,although we have little by way of published material.The development of CAD is likely to have major cost benefit across a multiple of engineering interfaces associated with the F1 car.It has also very probably determined Lotus road car production since.

Components were material to reliability and competitiveness.

Chapman’s design and manufacturing methodology rather confirms the adage that “the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts”.

It’s an interesting an important study to consider deployment of components. It contributes to aesthetics, assembly economics and sales [attractive components/ known accepted performance and servicing ability etc.]

It is equally and mutually relevant and beneficial to the component manufacturer.

Chapman and his colleagues often took the best / most appropriate mass produced item and almost reinvented it in its service to design objectives. In this manner many components acquired a new status and indeed their aesthetic was enhanced surrounded by the Chapman conceptual whole.

It’s also extremely significant how many of these components were also used in Lotus competition cars. This created a powerful dynamic and interrelationship. Many components:-

  • Performed well in competition gaining beneficial publicity and sales
  • Both the component and racing reputation carried through to road cars and assisted sales
  • The component manufacturer gained disproportionate publicity and assisted products sell in other applications
  • All together a beneficial spiral was commenced. Publicity of the era often opted to highlight the Lotus dimension in publicity material. In fact there was a powerful synergy.

The relationship between Lotus and is sponsor specialist suppliers is significant and worthy of close study and has lessons for Engineering, Industrial Design and Manufacturing disciplines.

Along the way it’s possible too to study the wider British motor component industry and how it has helped foster the specialist car manufacturers.

Sponsorship is a worldwide phenomenon of immense commercial impotence. Both to host and sponsor organization.

With the Passage of time it’s likely to become more sophisticated and focused and the internet /multimedia technology will play greater role.

Sponsors have existed in motorsport before Chapman but he vigorously exploited the concept with Gold Leaf c 1967/68 and set a pattern for others to follow.

Sponsors of Lotus were likely to benefit financially and in terms of exposure to an extent greater than their investment. The benefits were, and remain essentially similar to present day:-

  • Access to mass international audience consistent with mass production distribution marketing branding etc.
  • Demographics of viewing audience and interest groups
  • Additional subsidiary /secondary advertising through media, news, magazines etc.
  • Identification with market /brand /marque leader in both F1 and road cars
  • Association with success and continuity evolving, developing technology, materials etc.
  • In period the identification with the charm ,charisma and ability to articulate that Chapman possessed
  • All the attendant glamour , drama ,danger ,and spectacle of F1
  • Ability to provide conducive hospitality to conduct business
  • Cost effectiveness of audience cost ratio
  • Possible further complex corporate benefits

Appendix 1: Context and operation of sponsorship from the net:-

  • Learn how sponsorship motives have evolved.
  • Be able to differentiate between advertising and sponsorship.
  • Learn the advantages of each of the key promotion tools.
  • Identify the six categories of sponsorship opportunities.
  • Distinguish between self-evident and strategic linkages.
  • Learn the trends in spending on sponsorships.
  • Gain insight as to how ambush marketing and leveraging play roles.
  • Develop a basic understanding of the three special cases of sponsorship.
  • Identify the five key sponsorship objectives.
  • Learn the importance of each sponsorship objective.
  • Understand the concept of matching.
  • Learn the potential components of a sponsorship plan.
  • View a comprehensive example of a sponsorship.

Gain an awareness of controversies regarding sponsorship.

Appendix 2: F1 and related racing results

Appendix 3 : from Cimarosti :F1 cars of 1994

Marque Model Designer Engine Gearbox Dry W’kg Sponsors
Benetton B194
Ferrari 412T1B
Footwork FA15
Jordan 194
Larrousse LH94
Ligier JS39B
Lotus 109
McLaren MP4/9
Minardi M194
Pacific PRO1
Sauber C13
Simtek S941
Tyrrell O22
Williams FW16B

Appendix 4: Basic engineering drawing of Lotus Seven

Figure 3: Image from the net


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