Newsletter April 2010 – Number 22
Lotus with an unusual history
Museums around the world you may not have heard of: Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum
Questions from our readers
More amazing Diaoramas from Marc Hogenkamp
Lotus books/(recommended reading)
Lotus books(two for the library)
Lotus interest on YouTube
All previous articles relating to these are held on the website.
1. Lotus with an unusual history
Most Lotus drivers can relay tales of founding owner Colin Chapman having test driven their car,but few can boast that it was once owned by the legendary motoring man.
This Lotus Elite , which sat dormant for more than 20 years in a dusty garage, was just one of six of its type made on the production line in 1979, and selected especially by Mr Chapman for his personal use.
It has remained in impeccable condition ever since and its rediscovery, verified by official Lotus archives which matched the chasis and engine number, pieces together a formerly lost history.
The car’s DVLA papers record six previous drivers, all from Norfolk, but it was not until 1987 that it was bought by its current owner, David Ward, of Thetford.
Sold by him to a friend in 1989 it was not driven again until re-bought by Mr Ward in November last year, after insistence from his now grown-up children.
“In the 1980s everyone said their Lotus belonged to Colin Chapman and you didn’t take any notice of it,” said Mr Ward, an assistant manager of Plastic Building Supplies on Burrell Way in Thetford.
“I told my friend the same story but nobody ever did anything about it. When I got it back I took it to the garage and knowing it would be there for a while I rang Lotus and they said they had their own archives. You had to pick me up off the floor when I heard back from them; I was stunned for days.”
The racing green car, which is currently in pieces for welding work on the suspension arm, came off the production line in April 1979, the same season Martini sponsored Team Lotus.
Its original blue and red stripes can be still be seen on the flank of the car, before they were covered with the more recognisable green and yellow, and, although Mr Ward admits it may not be the most attractive Lotus ever made, with its champagne leather trim, fibreglass body and automatic gears, Mr Chapman obviously found something to love and drove it as his personal car for the first 13 months of its life.
As the story goes, although it cannot be verified, Mr Chapman selected the car and demanded a 2.2 engine be installed, something which was not possible for the size of car. The records however show that a 2.2 was installed, although the car currently has a standard two litre engine and it is believed Mr Chapman was told his request had been carried out so as not to upset him.
The find has excited current and former drivers throughout the Lotus world, and chairman of owners group Club Lotus, Alan Morgan, has already viewed the car.
“The exciting thing is it’s logged in the factory as being once owned by him,” he said. The other thing is that it’s original and it’s not been restored so Colin Chapman sat in that seat and held that steering wheel which is very significant and very important.
“There are all these stories and rumours that various cars were a Colin Chapman car and it’s clear he was very hands on and would drive a lot of them but to have one dedicated to him, which is in the records, doesn’t happen very often.”
A Lotus spokesman added: “The Lotus Elite is quite an interesting car and are going up in value quite quickly and becoming collectors’ items.
“Second hand values are going up and they’re very archetypal of the 1970s and 1980s design and that is becoming very desirable. “Having a car with such an historical record and being owned by Colin Chapman who is still regarded as on of the finest engineers of his time is fantastic to have.”
Mr Ward is now appealing for more information on the history of the car from its previous owners.
Anyone with information should e-mail Mr Ward at email@example.com
2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of:Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum
Richard and Hasell Atwell have lived in the Calne area their entire lives, starting their original collection with the purchase of a 1937 Buick Albermarle, which still remains a part of the Museum collection. A 1934 Vauxhall 14/6 and 1931 Singer Junior arrived shortly thereafter and the collection continued to grow. Supplying one of the cars for a cousin’s wedding provided the inspiration for creation of a Wedding Car Hire fleet in 1972.
In 1981 the collection was brought together under one roof with the completion of the smallest of the three buildings. Following the construction in 1989 of what is now the Main Hall, the Museum, (unofficially first known as the Downside Motor Museum), was forged. In 1997 a Charitable Trust was formed to take over the operation of the Museum, followed shortly by the formulation of a support group of volunteers known affectionately as “The Friends”; new members are always welcome.
The most recent expansion occurred in 2003 with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. On October 10th, both Trustees and Friends alike watched proudly as local MP Michael Ancram unveiled a plaque to commemorate the completion of a wholesale change and “re-opening” of the Museum.
Since 1990 the collection has included vehicles on special loan. This allows exhibits to be changed periodically, which encourages regular visitors to return to the Museum. Effort has also been made to provide related data, so that visitors can enjoy not only what is on display, but also discover a wealth of knowledge, technical detail, and in some cases, humorous, historical or little-known facts relating to the exhibits.
The contents are varied, from a number of everyday classics, to rare cars and lorries. Amongst these are a 1934 Alvis Speed 20, 1938 Daimler EL24, 1953 Allard Palm Beach, (complete with a rarely seen, Dodge Red Ram engine), and a 1951 Dennis Fire Engine. Richard Atwell has always had a strong interest in North American cars, so there is an interesting array of Ford, GM, and Chrysler products from across “The Pond”.
There is also a good variety of rare motorcycles, carrying the legendary names of Brough, BSA, HRD, Matchless, Triumph, Norton, Sunbeam, Velocette and Indian, to name but a few.
Visitors can find the Museum at:
Downside, Stockley Lane Calne, Wiltshire, SN11 0NF
Telephone us on: 01249 813119
Thank you Alan Crisp for the suggestion.
Apologies for last months oversight..
In the Ole Sommer museum there should be a very nice Lotus Mk14 Elite, I was a bit surprised to see that you did not mention it at all!
Well, maybe it is no longer there, I will have a look next time I go to Copenhagen!
Keep up the good work!
We had visits to our website from 56 countries/territories last month, including visitors from Russia and Iran.
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.We put them on our website and see if any “friends” know the answer.
Still many unanswered questions on our website can you help?.
What a nice display of Ronnie Peterson items you have!
Do you know if there are any lables inside the knitted nomex shirt? Maybe you know what “brand” it is?
And the gloves on the tires, what “brand” are those?
Maybe I can ask for closeup pictures?
Thank you Joris Meuffels , the owner of the Ronnie Peterson display, for
replying on this.
4. More amazing Diaoramas from Marc Hogenkamp
More diaramas on the diaoramas pages, thanks again Marc
5. Lotus books recommended reading
Tales from the Toolbox by Michael Oliver
A journey round F1 before the days of big money. Wonderful anecdotes and many stories of more interesting times. Bedford lorries breaking down on huge journeys across Europe being fixed by the roadside,difficult to comprehend in todays environment.. The book is also supporting a good cause.
Michael has also written the definitive books on the 49 and the 72.
6. Lotus books two for the library.
RESOURCE AND ARCHIVE:
LIBRARY AND BOOK REVIEW: 2
2a.British Racing Green
Ian Allan 2008
ISBN 978 071110 33320
2b.Italian Racing Red.
Ian Allan 2008
ISBN 978 17110 33313
Ian Allan website: www.IanAllanpublishing.com
These two books form part of a series which eventually will have an important comparative value. They have been written in a wide context and this increases their appeal. A standardised format is a useful method of comparison and evaluation.
The books place development in their wider socio economic, geographical and cultural context. The map locations at the front immediately help establish the concentrations of manufacturing and the tendency of the Industrial Revolution to group industries that shared similar structural functions. However the post industrial era has thrown up a different pattern but also sharing same structural factors. As technology changes the past is easily forgotten often at some expense. The books help recall the pride and achievement of areas once at the forefront of engineering technology.
These books help understand the motor racing technology, the cars, circuits, companies, motivations and personalities. Also it perhaps helps explain the impact of competition and technology transfer and Internationalism that crosses boundaries.
The two books selected and available in the Archive and Resource have an attractive range of illustrations .These include period photographs [some extremely atmospheric] technical illustrations, circuit plans and elevation drawings of selected cars.
Overall the books trace the evolution and development from the dawn of motor sort to the present. The have a nice feel and the national identities are reinforced in cover design and colour coding. They are well illustrated and each contains a decent authoritative bibliography.
British Racing Green.
This book features some well and a few lesser known marques:
Lagonda & Riley
Tyrell & March Lola
Italian Racing Red.
Although with similarities with a different author there seemed an additional richness in this edition.
The author called attention to the geography and topography of the nation and its impact on the development of the car. Handling and breaking were functional requirements. The Mille Miglia and Tagia Florio are explained in the context of the contributions to the respective local economies and relative ease of road closure in sparsely populated regions.
Ludvigsen also bravely makes reference to the Futurist Movement and the links between art, progress, technology and the wider impact on Italy as it entered industrialisation. In particular offering a description of the Fiat works. This was an ambitious five storey building with a test track on the roof. It was designed by Giacomo Matte-Trucco. In a similar vein was the Monza Motor racing circuit started c 1922. It employed a work force of approximately 3.5 000.The track was 6.2 miles and located near Milan. Its specification for the time was forward thinking and contained four restaurants, a main grandstand to seat 3,000, overpasses and subways, protective continuous fencing, an Olympic size swimming pool, camping and other facilities. There is a feeling that it was built for the nation and all sections of the community might find some benefit in both the long and short term.
Suggestions for reviews or extracts or précis are welcome. Please ask.
Author John Scott-Davies
7. Lotus collectables
Corgi Gift Set 37 – Louts Racing Team
8. Lotus interest on YouTube
One item on Youtube maybe of interest our readers
A lot of great footage.
Thank you for your continued interest and support
Editors of the newsletter
Jamie Duncan (webmaster)