Newsletter July 2009 – Number 13
Pat Dennis’ Mk. VI – POP 444*
Museums around the world you may not have heard of (would you believe a Delage 1923 Model DI and a Harley Davidson hearse!!)
Questions from our readers
“Lotus on Track” or A history of short circuits. Installment 1: Llandow*
Lotus books/(recommended reading)
Lotus books(one for the library).
Lotus interest on YouTube
*Articles will also be stored in ” Lotus related interest”
1. Pat Dennis not only answers readers’ questions. He has also kindly written an article for our website about his Mk. VI – POP 444
Why a Lotus?
The image of that car was indelibly burned into my memory, as clear today as it was in 1958. It was the sleekest, most purposeful shape I had ever seen.. I had only recently become interested in sports cars, having been totally immersed in racing boats for those early years. The car was a Lotus Eleven, a “single seater” type. It sat on an open trailer, painted to match the car and truck. Later I determined that it was returning from an event fairly close to the Midwestern city where I lived.
This one exposure was all that I needed to begin an interest in this young company that was making history on the world’s racetracks that continues today – many years later. I was captured by the innovation that was Lotus, Colin Chapman in particular. I think my Engineering Research & Development background made me appreciate the features and, especially the speed of development that Lotus excelled at.
Fourteen years after becoming a Lotus road car owner, I felt the strong desire to own a truly Historic Lotus. After much searching – and arm twisting, in 1985 I became the curator (you really do not own a historic Lotus, you are only the caretaker, charged with is care and maintenance until such time as you “pass it off” to the new caretaker) of a Lotus Mk VI, chassis # 39, reg. # POP 444. Several things seem to happen the minute you join the curators of Historic Lotuses – your circle of friends, acquaintances and contacts, expands exponentially from the more local group of other road type Lotus owners to an international fellowship of people interested in the preservation, cataloging and restoration of this relatively small quantity of very special Lotuses.
Why a Mk VI? There are several facts that are little known by most people; The Mk VI was:
The first Lotus manufactured in quantities greater than two.
The first car utilizing a space-tube chassis
The first Lotus to compete outside of England
The first Lotus to be imported into North America
The first thing an owner seems to do is join the Historic Lotus Register (HLR), trace the history of your Lotus and start the search of other such cars in your area. With the assistance of the HLR (Mk VI registrar Charles Helps, Vic Thomas, founder of the HLR), I quickly confirmed that POP, as my Mk VI is fondly referred to, was first owned by Ian H. Smith, the author of the first history books on Lotus ( ‘Lotus, the First Ten years’, ‘Lotus, the Story of the Marque’, and ‘The Story of Lotus – 1947-1960 Birth of a Legend’). As Ian had chronicled the building of POP in the first book, I had a detailed history – including such facts as the engine was built by Mike Costin (Mike was running a small division of Lotus, ‘Racing Engines Ltd’), he had specified Mk IX brakes (those 11″ magnesium finned items produced by Lotus), and knock-on wire wheels. Probably one of the most interesting facts was that Colin himself conducted the test drive (how many people can claim this!). Ian raced POP for two successful seasons – primarily Hill climbs, Sprints and several circuit races.
Ian went onto founding the original Club Lotus
and became a director of Caterham, when that facility was designated as an “official Lotus Centre” for the Seven and Type 14 Elite owners.
POP’s second owner was Roy Millbank, a farmer and racing enthusiast from the Shoebury areea. Roy raced the “wheels off of the car”, winning over 100 races on the well know circuits in England (Brands Hatch, Silverstone, among others).
Roy managed, through his driving skills and car preparation to keep this Mk VI more than competitive with much newer and more sophisticated (not to mention streamlined) adversaries. until it’s sale in 1960 – fully 6 years after its build date. The sale even was featured in the local newspaper.
With POP’s race years over, the car was simply maintained in original condition be several subsequent owners, Today, POP lives a much less stressful life, only used for exhibition races – the last one being at the Barber Motorsports facility in Birmingham, AL USA last month.
Today, POP attends many exhibits and shows and it provides the introduction for me to expound on the rich history of Lotus to both the newest Lotus owners and non-Lotus owners alike., a task that I dearly enjoy.
Thank you Pat Dennis for this excellent article.
2. Museums around the world (you may not know about) Number 3: Around the Museum
We have devoted a section to museums within our web for the following reasons:
1. We have a practical and theoretical interest.
2. We like to examine the relative achievements and contributions of others.
3. We take an International view.[ we are all limited to some extent by travel] but through contributions we can share our localisied ot traveled experience with others.
4. We welcome comment ,participation, feed back and your pictures of the museums you have attended.
5. Where practical we will include some photographs of places visited.
In forthcoming editions I will try and call attention to the following:
1. Our proposals for the CCM&EC should circumstances permit.
2. A selection of museums from around the world [ Car, engineering and design related] starting with London UK, GB, Europe,America and Rest of the World.
Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum
178 Tabot Street
+64 3 693-1006
Open Hours 10.00am-4.00pm daily from mid September to the first week in June.
One of the finest collections of Vintage and Veteran Cars, tractors and machinery in the Southern Hemisphere.
Look at the website under the “General” category museums for more pictures of this wonderful museum.
3. Questions (can you help?)
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 now put them on our website and see if any “friends” know the answer. Last month we found a copy of the Tony Weale book, however at a great price!! Still many unanswered questions on our website. Can you help?
I do appreciate you sending me the newsletter and I hope you can advance the goal of getting a site and putting up the museum. I enjoyed seeing the early pictures of the Caterham garage. A couple of nice little cars in the background too. I do have a question. I own a Lotus Elite S1 which was originally painted dark blue like the one shown on your home page (with the exception of the silver top). When I restored the car we did the best we could matching that blue and I think did a very good job – but I’ve always wondered if there was a name to that color. If anyone knows I would love to find out. I may have sent you a picture but I’ll attach one just in case.
All of these questions plus additional ones are in the new section on the web under General Interest. If you know the answer please send me an email and I will go back to the sender.
4. “Lotus on Track” or A short history of short circuits
Installment 1: Llandow
The Llandow circuit in Mid Glamorgan holds a special importance to the author and his connection with Lotus. The author grew up in South Wales, UK where there was limited tradition in Motor Sport, precision engineering and Motor Racing Circuits. South Wales was then relatively remote from the major circuits in England. It was beyond the author’s ability and finances to reach these.
However Llandow was approximately fifteen miles and could be cycled to. Along with a friend the author attended several events held in the mid to late 1960’s. The author was a school boy aged 14-17 at the time. The photographs included are those taken in the pits paddock with the limited equipment the author possessed. There was possibly a greater interest in the design and construction and relative technical merits than the actual racing and personalities involved.
However there is one local hero that is recalled. It is believed that a gentleman named Wilson owned a building business and lived on Brynterion Hill just outside Bridgend. He owned and raced the McLaren in the photographs and the author was privileged to be allowed to sit in this car. Epic battles of “David and Goliath “were fought out on the essentially oval track between the might McLaren and the smaller more agile Lotus, Elva and Lola cars. The Formula Libre racers were certainly entertaining and an introduction to the effiency of light weight.
These pictures capture a golden era of amateur motor racing in its best sense. It is worth noting how the track also attended such famous former racers then a generation old like the Aston Martin and the modifications that were inflicted to keep cars competitive. [Most of which have now been possible restored to pristine original condition]
The photographs confirm how relaxed and informal events were. Now sadly missed there was a great sense of mingling between cars, driver/ owner/mechanics. We would be very pleased to hear from those that participated or attended. Happy days.
Quoted at length from www.llandowracecircuit.com
“In the 1940’s Llandow was a Second World War Airfield home to Mk1 and 2 spitfires and part of the Canadian Air force.After being decommissioned by the Air Ministry in 1957 the site was offered for sale by auction in 1961. Jack Evans a local farmer with a vision for the future bought an 80 acre parcel which included stretches of runway, air raid shelters and retractable gun turrets. With help of the South Wales Automobile Club he linked the runways to form a 1 mile oval circuit; and Llandow Race Circuit was created. The circuit was opened in 1963 by Graham Hill and in its hay-days of the mid 1960’s and early 70’s attendance was 3-4000….. Roger Clark, Jody Schuter and Andy Rause cut their teeth here”.
Article by John Scott-Davies more photos on the Lotus Interest section of the web
5. Lotus books (recommended reading)
Just the one addition this month.
Some of these books are out of print so autojumbles may help. More recommendations welcome. Please keep sending recommendations.
6. Lotus books one for the library
A classic book by Michael Costin and David Phipps.
7. Lotus collectables
We have added a number of fascinating items to our collectable list.
This is an opportunity for you to share with other “friends” any pictures of collectables you may have. Just send me an email with the picture attached and it will be included in our next update.
8. 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)