Thursday, 13 June 2019

Oliver Winterbottom – May Bulletin

1 May I arrive at PJS Sports Cars workshops near Burton upon Trent, at 2:30pm. I get the chance to inspect the impressive photo album recording many of their high quality Lotus restorations. After being shown around the impressive business and meeting the employees, I go down to Tatenhill Village Hall. Paul Shipley, the Lotus dealer principal is busy preparing for the evening. He has brought in Edd Stanton of Scorpion Event Solutions to set up fully professional audio-visual equipment for the evening. He soon loads my memory stick of slides for my talk. PJS have set up an interesting display of Lotus outside, so with everything running smoothly, I drive into Burton and check-in to the Premier Inn. I then return to await the start of the evening. 

As 7:00pm approaches, the car park is filling with Lotuses and the Hall is filling up. Everyone has a seat at a table laden with sandwiches and snacks. I believe at least three or four attendees are Lotus and TVR owners. A superb red Elite was an early arrival and a very nice TVR was parked nearby.  

I was provided with a table, chair and microphone to give my talk. Edd projected the slides on a huge screen, and I think it went well! A question and answer session brought some interesting questions – I cannot speak for the answers! (I am the little white head sticking up on the left of the screen). 

I then went to sign copies of my book. An amazing 17 or so were bought on the night and at least 4 beforehand. There was plenty of chat and it was a really superb event. The proceeds of the evening £262.50 went to the Midlands Air Ambulance, a very worthy cause.

  Paul Shipley and PJS Sports Cars did me proud - thank you Paul and your team very much.

3 May I arrive at Donington race circuit around 9:45am, for the first day of the three-day HSCC Historic race meeting. Richard Woollaston of the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excel Club has kindly arranged a pass that allows me to park closely to the classic car exhibits. Friday is practicing and qualifying for the weekend racing. The crowd and classic vehicles are in short supply as it is a working day. There are four Lotuses displayed which outnumbered many clubs who had zero or a couple of cars. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the release of the Lotus Elite, and Richard kindly gave me a commemorative mug. 

As lunchtime approached Richard invited me to accompany him on a test lap of the track. It had been a long time since I sat in a Lotus Elite, and it was a first for me to see Donington from the track. The weather was a little uncooperative, as the photograph below may show! 

In the afternoon, various interesting people called by, and I supplied a couple of books which was a bonus! I also left some bookmarks for the weekend.

The organisers had suggested they may interview me but no one came by the time I departed. Never mind.

I understand that over the weekend there were not as many classic cars on display as normally expected. As it hailed and rained with a freezing wind, sadly I guess that many stayed at home.

In the afternoon, various interesting people called by and I supplied a couple of books, which was a bonus! Here, I am 'caught' by a paparazzi camera man (thank you Roger Kemp of the Jaguar Drivers Club) talking with two nice ladies from Stone, Staffordshire and Ian Hissey to owner of the pre -production Lotus Eclat on display.

5 May Amazon UK who had run out of stock of my book at the beginning of the month now have three available. By 8 May their stock is up to five available.

7 May I receive for approval (given) the article on Colin Chapman and his weight saving views written for a new 'in house' magazine titled Us Lot for Lotus staff. I am delighted that my book gets a mention!I quote: "I retired in 2009 and recently put together a talk entitled Lotus DNA – Views on Colin Chapman' Philosophies to promote my book A Life in Car Design; Jaguar, Lotus, TVR (Veloce Publishing)."

10 May Embarrassingly, I have to advise various folk including Steve Cropley Editor-in-Chief, Autocar that the 40th anniversary of the announcement of the Lotus Type 75 Elite is 15th May, and not the 17th. This is due to old age and the worn condition of my copy of the contemporary local newspaper.

13 May Amazon UK appear to have sold another book since 8 May, so now they have four in stock.

14 May Club Lotus ask if they can publish my story on the first three days in May. The talk and book signing at Tatenhill Village Hall for PJS Sports Cars, and the Historic meeting at Donington Park with the Lotus Elite Eclat Excel Club. I am delighted to approve for the July edition of Club Lotus News

15 May 45th Anniversary of the announcement of the Lotus Elite. Richard Woollaston circulates a birthday card.

Meanwhile I pose for a photograph with my sisters “Mini” asking “Which is the Mini?” 

I think it is the one on the right!

16 May I visit the RAF Museum at Cosford near Wolverhampton, for the Annual Jaguar Ex-Apprentices lunch. There were about 45 of us ranging from about 70 years of age upwards! The museum is definitely recommended as it has a large number of unique experimental aircraft as well as superb examples of the more common varieties. I distributed a number of the book marks.

18 May I assist Mike Kimberley with some Lotus event dates for a magazine article about the Lotus activities in the 1970s. It gets harder to remember all the correct dates and details as time goes by.

26 May I return from a few days with the family to find an email from ERA driver Paddins Dowling with a picture of the pair of us at Silverstone  13 April when he bought a copy of my book.  

26 May I receive a forwarded letter from Veloce sent by a past colleague. Doug Mellor was a Senior Buyer at Lotus 1982-84 and was a great help on the M90 prototype build project. He related a particularly over ambitious day,  when we thought we could visit Llanelli in Wales from Norwich and return after doing business all in one day – we couldn’t! I was delighted he said he had enjoyed my book so much. Thanks, Douglas.

27 May Delighted to meet another happy reader of my book in the Barnham Broom Bell. It's good to hear that people enjoy reading it.

31 May Amazon UK now have 8 books in stock, this is four more than on May 13. Either they have sold a lot or they are buying a lot - I hope it is selling them in vast quantities and then restocking.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Holiday Reads – making the journey more exciting than the destination

It's June, it's raining, and that can only mean one thing ... British Summertime is almost upon us. For those outside of our little island, we hope you're equally looking forward to your summer vacation.

As a publishing house, it will be a surprise to nobody that the Velocisti love nothing more than to get stuck into a good book. So, let's think about what makes a 'good' holiday book. Over a casual conversation in the office, there was no clear author or even genre of preference. People want different things from a holiday read.

If you're looking for something to keep you occupied on journey where you're not behind the wheel (of course, we're not suggesting you read at the wheel... that'd be silly), perhaps you might want something to learn from such as DRIVEN, or you maybe a captivating story A Cat to Kill For. Comparatively, if you're a travelling snoozer -guilty!- you're looking for something at a slower pace, reflecting on the 'good old days' (why not take a look at Dairy Cows and Duck Races).

After some discussion, the Velocisti shared their latest holiday reads:

"I like to read a book set in my destination, such as A Room with a View when I visited Italy, or Captain Corelli's Mandolin when in Greece"

"The Coffin Path, a ghost story, something exciting to get lost in"

"I keep going back to a series of short stories by Richard Brautigan, starting with Revenge of the Lawn, every time I take a trip away."

For those of us who have taken a step into eBook territory, there are plenty of bargains to be had for a holiday read, and you can take as many books as you wish away with you – no worrying about baggage restrictions!

Of course, there's the confounded little boxes we keep in our pockets which are all well and good, until the network signal runs out, at which points they're rendered nothing more than an expensive paperweight. Remember the comedian who shouted into his mobile phone on the train? We acknowledge the frustration that is 'airplane mode' and that airport WiFi is patchy on a good day and extremely expensive on a bad one, and if there's no WiFi at your destination – quelle horreur!

In all seriousness, we often underestimate the effect that a good book has on the mind. Old books that smell and feel familiar, and new books that have never been opened before; they're soothing to the soul. It's great to take a book away with you because there's no rushing, no notifications, emails, pop-ups or other 'noise' and mental clutter. Books are restful and restorative.

And of course, if you don't have the time, patience or money to 'get away' this summer, what better reason to pick up a book, put the kettle on and transport your mind to far off lands for a fraction of the cost...

The Elder Statesmen of Racing

The motor industry and motor sport industry has lost a significant number of elder statesmen in this past month, and with them a huge base of knowledge, entrepreneurialism and respect. In each case, these people were present at the beginning of an era, made a difference, and in the oft overused phrase, left a legacy of cars, businesses and stories that will be repeated down the years, whenever the words Ferrari, McLaren or Jaguar are brought up.

The person whose passing left the largest media footprint was, of course, Niki Lauda. At the time of his death he was a chairman of Mercedes F1, and had been world champion racing driver three times, although it is unlikely that it it is either of these things that he will be remembered for. He will be remembered for his stunning bravery and stoicism after a crash and fire left him near dead in Germany, 1976. It was a new thing for motor racing drivers to apply fitness and diet to their armoury, and Lauda was the butt of many jokes for his adherence to fitness guru Willi Dungle’s regime
though it was this fitness that ultimately saved his life. One could say that his own brand of pragmatism, brought him through the traumatic incident, thinning every decision and polemic to the bone, and uttering his infamous, succinctly staccato answers, which left everyone wondering why they hadn’t thought it through that way.
The fiery accident undoubtedly led to an operation to replace his lungs in late 2018, and he never totally recovered.

Lauda’s last world championship win was in a McLaren car, a marque which by then was one of the strongest and most successful in Formula One. Like everything, McLaren had to start somewhere, and two of the people who helped start McLaren on the road to success have now joined Bruce McLaren, the founder, in the firmament.

A few people have made the claim to be Bruce’s first employee, but Wally Willmott, an automotive electrician at the time, was definitely one of the first to join Bruce in building the Tasman Coopers that were, in effect, the first McLaren cars. New Zealander Wally Willmott was a friend as well as employee, and would have followed Bruce to the ends of the earth. He was a brilliant fabricator and engineer and his versatility made the McLaren staff count look considerably bulkier than it was. He retired back to NZ, where he will be sadly missed.

Bruce McLaren advertised for a racing car designer in 1965, realising that he couldn’t do everything. The person he chose was an Oxford Graduate, who was working on Concorde. His name was Robin Herd.

Robin had never designed a racing car before, but his first McLaren was revolutionary, being made of a Mallite aluminium and wood sandwich, pressed hard together, a material used in aircraft manufacture. The car was good but the Ford engine far too heavy, and the lighter Serranissima engine not powerful enough. It was also difficult to repair so Robin’s next design was more conventional, yet again let down by its BRM engine.

When Robin got his hands on a Ford DFV, McLaren soon scored his first victory in a car of his own manufacture. Herd had also designed a series of highly successful Can-Am cars, where the McLaren team really earned their money.

Robin was tempted to join Cosworth, to design their abortive 4WD F1 car, and soon after joined Max Moseley, Alan Rees and Graham Coker to form the MARCH (the letters of their names) racing car firm. Their March 701 cars were the most numerous on the grids for their first year, and had won three out of four Formula One races by April of their first year. It was not form that they could keep up, but in their second year they finished second in the World Championship with the adventurous March 711, the car Niki Lauda made his debut in.

March only won two GPs after that, but were always numerous on the grids, and were dominant in F2 and F3. Robin left the team in the late Seventies, and applied his brain to pursuits as diverse as Green Waste disposal and owning Oxford City football club.

Of the most recent losses, Norman Dewis of Jaguar died two years short of his target, to do 100mph on his 100th birthday. Whilst Norman’s competition career was sparse, his contribution was immense. As Chief test driver for Jaguar, he claimed land speed records, developed the C-Type and D-Type Jaguars that won Le Mans so many times in the Fifties, and had a hand in proving every new Jaguar model from 1952 to 1986 was fit for purpose. Most significantly he developed disc brakes for use on cars, a major contribution to road safety, which is something that is applied every car we drive today. 

Having retired he nursed his disabled wife, Nan, until her death, and then embarked on a Jaguar ambassadorial World Tour that continued into 2019. Jaguar aficionados never tired of hearing the little man’s recollections, and he never tired of telling them.

Four significant losses to the motor world over the past month – a time for reflection indeed.

Written by Tim Nevinson

Friday, 17 May 2019

Oliver Winterbottom Monthly Bulletin - April 2019

1 April I write up description of the contents of my book for the Amazon Author Central Team in the USA. It explains the 'inside the business' nature of the story, and the changes from design with pencil and paper to design with computer.

2 April Tom Smith, who owns the Lotus M90 / X100 prototype in Texas, has requested permission to write an article for the USA Lotus Ltd Club magazine. I am happy to permit it! It may assist the publicity for the book.

3 April I send a copy of my book contents description for Amazon USA to Paul Shipley. He says he will use it in the next advertising for the May 1st event near Burton-upon-Trent.

4 April I complete the presentation for the PJS Sports evening on May 1st.

8 April I finally manage to access the PJS Sports Cars website. It doesn’t like Apple computers! The event is as shown below:

PJS Sports Cars Presents - An Evening with Oliver Winterbottom
A talk, questions and answers session and book signing by Lotus, Jaguar and TVR designer Oliver Winterbottom.
Ticket price (£10) includes tea, coffee and sandwiches. 
Ticket profits go to the Midlands Air Ambulance.
Book available on the night at £37.50 or in advance at £35.00 (see ticket options)
1 May, 19:00 – 22:00
Tatenhill Village Hall, Main St, Tatenhill, Burton-on-Trent DE13 9SD, UK

9 April Receive a message from Richard Woollaston, who is organising the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excel Club display at the Donington Historic race meeting, to say the organisers are arranging for me to drive to the display. I plan to attend on Friday 3 May. In return, I agree to be interviewed by the commentator which could help publicise the book. 

Lotus Excel website states: Update – Oliver Winterbottom will be joining us at Donington on Friday 3 May, so a good opportunity to meet him and talk about the cars if you haven't done so already!
It looks like he'll also be giving an interview at the event.

Cheers, Richard.
                45 years since the launch of the Lotus Elite
10 April I circulate comments on an Autocar Opinion article, criticising the low profile tyres and dreadful ride of many current cars. My talk on The Lotus DNA had 2 slides explaining the traditional Lotus approach which gave a suburb ride as well as premier handling.

I am asked if I would give a talk to Club Lotus Cambridge which I would be happy to do. I sent my “no go” diary dates and await their response.

11 April  I get a message to say that Venisse Thibault is no longer involved with Club Lotus France. He allowed an English Lotus Excel to park on the club display at Dijon Prenois historic races. I signed a copy of my book for him two years ago. I am attempting to find a new contact. I succeed! Serge Audigier to be contacted by Tony Poll who would like to park his Excel with them.

13 April Arrive at Silverstone for the VSCC Historic races and have to talk my way into parking inside the circuit. I meet up with Paddins Dowling who runs the 1935 ERA R10B (ERA racing cars were created by my cousin, Raymond Mays.) Paddins lives in the USA but keeps the car in Britain. He kindly purchased a book, which I happily signed. He said he planned to read it on the flight home.

15 April I travel up to Yorkshire to visit a recently widowed friend. I was delighted to sign her copy of my book.

18 April I am contacted by Lotus Cars' PR Dept asking if I would be prepared to be interviewed for their new in-house magazine for their staff. Cleverly titled Us Lot (I am sure you can work that out) I am delighted to co-operate. I await a suitable diary date.

Diary date is in; just two hours later! A telephone interview with George Chapman, a London journalist. He will write up on the back page. I discuss my talk, entitled Lotus DNA: Some Views on Colin Chapman’s Philosophies. George was most interested in the comment that Colin was more interested in design efficiency than weight. He did however once utter “simplicate*, and add lightness.” I had wondered what simplicate meant for many years, so had looked it up. It was first used by W. S. Stout, an American who designed a car and an aircraft.
*Simplicate: to make something simpler through a process that initially seems daunting or complicated.

20 April A 1:43 scale model Lotus Elite arrives in the mail from Grand Prix Models. It joins my collection of cars that I had a hand in. Looks nice alongside a TVR Tasmin Coupe – although I say it myself. A nice Easter present.

The model Lotus Elite

23 April
An old friend, John Ashley, joins me for a trip to Lincolnshire. We visit the superb Newark Air Museum and whilst there, fall into conversation with a volunteer guide. He has a Clan Crusader, a sports car built by ex-Lotus engineers in the early 1970s. I mention my book to him at least three times!

24 April I arrive at the Blyton Park track for the annual BRM Association Track Day. This brings together BRM and associated racing cars for demonstrations on the track. There is no racing but some of the most exciting cars can be seen.
I was keeping an eye out for Dick Salmon, who is another Veloce published author, ex-BRM V16 mechanic, ex-Lotus Quality Manager in the early 1970s a former customer of the Wicklewood Cherry Tree! His superb book, BRM A Mechanics Tale, is still selling, now as a reprint. 

Dick Salmon and a wonderful BRM V16 which he worked upon
Another pleasant meeting was with Malcolm Kenwood of the Bourne Motor Racing Club. We had a brief chat about my forthcoming talk to the club on the 10 October.

Howden Ganley, who drove the BRM P180 competitively in the early 1970s was present and I was delighted to talk to him at the event. His book, The Road to Monaco: My Life in Motor Racing, was on display at the BRM Association kiosk, alongside mine. I suggested that if he bought mine, I would buy his! He declined, as his book was actually a donated raffle prize. I bought a few tickets and asked Dick Salmon, who was to draw the winner, how much a bribe would cost... It proved unnecessary as I won a prize anyway, yes, it was Howden Ganley’s book – and it's signed! Despite the generous offer to display my book, none were sold.

26 April Tom Smith, current owner of the prototype Lotus M90/X100 in Texas, sends me his final copy of an article he has written for the Lotus Ltd. Club in the USA. It traces the restoration of the car which is now as good as new. The story will appear in the club magazine Remarque. He has kindly mentioned: “Oliver told many interesting stories about the X100’s development and his dealings with Chapman, most of which he later documented in his book, A Life in Car Design (A good read for any Lotus aficionado, by the way.)” Many thanks, Tom.

My copy of Club Lotus News magazine arrives. Inside it is my letter, concerning the aerodynamic stability of the 1974 Lotus Elite. The final sentence: “For more information, may I recommend my book, A Life in Car Design, which attempts to describe the birth of the Lotus Elite as I remember it.” 

I am delighted that my car pass for the Donington Historic races for Friday 3 May has arrived. I am due to meet up with the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excel Club and possibly give a public interview.

30 April All packed and ready to leave for the Midlands. PJS Sports Cars evening talk tomorrow and Donington Historic race meeting and interview on Friday 3 May.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Oliver Winterbottom's Diary – March Bulletin

1 March Kevin Atkins of Veloce Publishing tells me that his great idea of promotional bookmarks, have arrived. They look great to me, and I look forward to getting some delivered. 

2 March I’m contacted by PJS Sports Cars, giving me the hotel booking for my overnight accommodation, the evening of their Air Ambulance and book event in May. Very impressed with their ‘up front’ project management.

5 March On my way to give a talk to Club Lotus Avon, my new Citroën Cactus reached exactly 1000 miles from new, as I passed through the hamlet of Petty France on the A46 Stroud to Bath main road in Gloucestershire. If it had been a mile sooner, I would have been in the hamlet of Dunkirk. I thought it rather apt being a French car.

5 March I give Club Lotus Avon a talk at the Bull at Hinton, entitled LOTUS DNA Some views on Colin Chapman’s philosophies. There was a full-house crowd and I signed one copy of my book which a guest had brought. 

My talk ended on the comment that “the car which did ‘donuts’ in clouds of rubber smoke at the Lotus 70th Anniversary last September would have created a new form of job dismissal by Chapman”. 

I suggested something quicker than instant dismissal. An interesting comment from an ex-employee present who once spun the rear wheels of a Lotus when starting off on a Lotus Open Day demonstration in the 1970s. He told us that Colin Chapman criticised him quite severely. It was good to have a supporting story.

7 March Kevin Atkins' superb bookmarks featuring the book A Life in Car Design arrive in the morning post. I am so pleased with them – now to get them to work!

8 March Take bookmarks to the Barnham Broom Bell, and present to loyal regulars. They are warmly received to positive acclaim.

PJS Sports Cars order the new bookmarks for their charity evening on May 1st. Hopefully they can accompany the event invitations, which may help increase book sales!

10 March Start total revision of the talk to PJS Sports cars due May 1st. It will explain why I wrote the book, the events in creating it and some information on its contents.

12 March It is good to see Amazon UK have sold 2 more books since I last looked. However they now have a price of £31.46, reduced from the publishers posted price.

13 March I present a bookmark to my podiatrist, and she was delighted with it. Further presentations in the Hethersett Queens Head; all were received with positive comment. It looks like Kevin had a good idea.

14 March Completed the revisions to my talk on my book, for PJS Sports Cars.

16 March Now Amazon UK have a price of £35.99!

19 March Took some bookmarks to the Hethersett Queens Head. Gave one to a regular customer, who admitted he had not bought the book yet – but wanted a couple more to pass on. Perhaps that will get some trade drummed up!

22 March My younger daughter and granddaughter went to Norwich Theatre Royal. They met the cast, one of whom was very interested in my book, after my daughter did her ‘salesmanship’ bit.

25 March Amazon UK now have a price of £37.50.

26 March Had a delightful lunch with 4 ex-colleagues. Much discussion on some of the beleaguered members of the motor industry. I circulated my bookmarks!

27 March I learn of the new legal requirement of vehicle speed control. Mine and my sister’s vehicles already have speed limit information displayed. Mine is wrong in two locations, despite being only one month old. My sister’s also has inaccurate locations. 

I therefore write to my Member of Parliament, enquiring if the driver or the computer will be liable if the speed is wrong. If it’s the driver then what’s the point? I also stress the ridiculous ‘political’ statements comparing the systems contribution to safety with the absolutely vital use of seat belts (except on buses, which don’t have them).

28 March Steve Cropley, Editor-in-Chief at Autocar, writes a good opinion article on the speed control subject. He thanks me for some of the inspiration. There is now a suggestion that cars will also have speed recorders as well, so the authorities can trace your speed history. My view is “thank goodness I am well into my pension!”

30 March After much difficulty with the website crashing half way through, a number of times when entering details; I am now listed in Amazon Author Central Team, as suggested by Veloce. I am slightly disappointed to find it is based at Amazon USA but then again, it gives access to a huge potential market.

French Pavement Café – A Van Fit for Java

Have you noticed that when you buy coffee outside, it’s very often not from an ordinary catering van? Everything about the way you get to experience good coffee has taken a twist to entice you to further enjoy the experience.

And it’s not limited coffee. Bakery, pizza, and antiques all appear for sale on the street from the back of an unusual van. Not a Transit, a Sprinter or Transporter (although the Volkswagen Transporter has become a popular vehicle for cafeterias, something that’s travelled over from the Surfie Movement.) No, what we are talking about here is the very cute, strange, old chicken coop on wheels, the Citroën ‘H’ Van.

Far from modern, the 'H Van' was designed during the war, in Paris, and in inimitable French style, made something utilitarian look positively ugly, but with no allowance made for impracticality, the machine became loveable because it was so good at what it did. In some ways a bit like the Land Rover Defender (I’ve seen coffee vans on them too), its go-anywhere, bash-anything bodywork endeared it to farmers, delivery workers and those with a taste for exploration. I don’t think the 'H Van' did much exploration, but it was sold in some very inhospitable environments. 

Largely, the 'H Van' was designed by André Lefebvre, who also designed the famous Traction Avant and Citroën DS (I suppose he should be allowed one ugly one!) It replaced what the French called the TUB, which was a hard act to follow.

Lefebvre kept the weight very low and the hard parts in unobtrusive places. This left more room for payload. He used the drive line from the Traction-Avant – which did not impose into the driver's compartment too much – you effectively sat on it, with the gearbox and water cooling out front, beyond the screen. The designer matched strength with lightness, two features that are usually mutually exclusive. He had seen a German Junker's transport plane landing, and marvelled out how 'corrugated' panels made wobbly sheets strong.

Once peace had been declared in Europe, the 'H' Van was on French roads in droves. Citroën continued making them into the Seventies, showing that the French didn’t care what a product looked like, as long as it did its job. They became ubiquitous.

The strange thing is, they are now bought precisely for their looks! Our local Tesco’s has one outside, a bright red, left-hand drive one, run by On The Hoof CoffeeChristian and Zeta do fabulous coffee from their espresso machine, and great snacks too (Dorset Sea Salt Caramel Brownies, anyone?) The interior kitchen, decorated by the owners, is well laid out and nicely fitted, obviously a working space of some substantial pride.

Maurice the Van

'Maurice', as the van is affectionately known, is somewhat different from the way he started life. Co-owner Zeta said of their regular pitch, outside a large supermarket in Dorchester "it's lovely to have a spot year-round." Automotive lover Christian shared that "[Maurice] used to be awfully slow and heavy to drive, so a Ford Pinto 1600 engine was swapped into it. Now it's happy at about 40-45mph." 

The coffee is fantastic, and if you give it a go, tag yourself using #OnTheHoofCoffee and #VeloceBooks!

Send us a picture when you see a vending van with a difference! We have been told of a Peugeot Pizza van, that has so far evaded photos... so let's see some of the trendy cute mobile vending vans near you!

Tim Nevinson for Veloce Publishing

Friday, 29 March 2019

The Price of Potholes – Motorists' Repair Bill Surpasses £1.2bn

26/03/19 from Kwik Fit

The cost of pothole damage rises 32% in 12 months

11 million drivers affected by potholes in past year

Just £6.9million (0.6%) paid out by local authorities in compensation for pothole damage

The bill to the UK motorist for repairing pothole damage has skyrocketed to a total of more than £1billion, reveals research published today by Kwik Fit1, the UK’s largest automotive servicing and repair company. With more than 11 million drivers damaging their vehicle due to poor road conditions over the last year, the cost has reached a staggering £1.21billion – an increase of £296million (32%) compared to the year before.

This is continuing a worrying trend – in the year ending March 2016, the equivalent total bill was £684million, meaning that the cost of damage reported by motorists has risen by 77% in just three years.

The average cost to the individual motorist of repairing damage to components such as tyres, suspension and wheels has reduced slightly from £111 to £108.86, however, the number of motorists being affected has jumped by 2.9 million since last year. And the total cost is likely to rise even further as 1.4 million drivers say they have yet to have their vehicle repaired.

Almost a third of drivers who have hit a pothole in the last year had their car damaged by the impact, with the most common repairs being to tyres (5.9 million), suspension (3.8 million), wheels (3.7 million), steering (1.7 million), bodywork (1.3 million) and exhaust (1.2 million). 17% of motorists estimate they hit more than 30 potholes over the course of just one month – an average of one a day.

Regionally, Londoners’ wallets are being hit the hardest with an overall bill of £204,681,600, while in Wales the cost to motorists stands at £20,417,100 – a difference of £184,264,500.

Source: Research for Kwik Fit 2019 1

More than half (51%) of people travelling on UK roads believe they are worse now compared to a year ago, with 60% saying they are in a poorer state when compared to 5 years ago. This mirrors the annual ALARM report4 published today by the Asphalt Industry Alliance which states while a 20% increase in funds for road networks is welcome and will halt further decline, the one-off catch-up cost to fix UK roads will only continue to rise.

The ALARM report also reveals that just £6.9million has been paid by local authorities to compensate those affected by potholes despite the bill to motorists topping more than £1billion. This is reflected in Kwik Fit’s research as it found less than a quarter (24%) of people have complained about potholes in their local area to their council.

Source: Research for Kwik Fit 2013, 2016, 2018, 2019 1,2,3,5

Roger Griggs, Communications Director at Kwik Fit, said: “The cost of damage from potholes is hitting more and more drivers who are continuing to see their cash being spent on issues that are not entirely their fault. Fortunately, this winter has not been as harsh as it has been in recent years, however as we know with the Great British weather, conditions which would further damage our road network could still be round the corner.

“It is worth noting that damage isn’t always immediately noticeable so motorists should give their car a thorough check when they do hit a pothole. Damage can also often be internal so anyone concerned about their car can take it to one of our centres so the staff can put it on the ramp for closer inspection.”