Friday, 26 October 2018

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – Lotus 70th Anniversary

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Lotus car company, and the occasion was marked with a huge celebration at its factory in Hethel on 29 September. If you have been following Oliver Winterbottom's diary here on the blog, you'll know that he was invited to attend this incredible event. In today's blog, we bring you his account of a truly historic day. Take it away, Oliver!


The day dawned sunny and bright, and I left my home at 8:50am for the five and a half mile drive to the Hethel Engineering Centre. This was the car park for VIP guests arriving in non-Lotus machines. My Google map showed a solid traffic jam from Wymondham so I was a bit pessimistic. The last mile was slow, but I was parked and in the minibus provided for the last half mile by my target time of 9:30am.

Patrick Peal, ex-Lotus and now Chief Executive of the East Anglia Air Ambulance service, was another passenger as we crept up Potash Lane, passing Martin Cliffe, ex-Lotus, now running Omicron Lancia services, who was arriving on foot. In front, Mike Kimberley was making his way in, despite agreeing to meet me at the car park! All is forgiven, Mike. On the way, we passed the beautiful new HQ for Classic Team Lotus, which I understand was finally occupied last week.

Upon arrival, my first call was to Club Lotus. The various Lotus clubs were located on the front factory car park, and a fine sight too. Rows of Lotus Sunbeam's, Carelton's and all varieties of pure Lotus shone in the morning sun.


Just a small fraction of the Lotus Club area
I was making for Club Lotus, as they exhibited my book, A Life in Car Design, taking orders on the day. The event rules prevented actual sales, so it will be dispatching the books over the next few days.

I supplied a sample book and poster to assist Jane Woollestone in her efforts. I understand very successfully.



Immediately I bumped into John Mountain, past electrical engineer who served for many years. We started to walk back towards the test track but stopped at the LotusExcel.net club site, where Woollaston's superb Lotus Elite shone in the sun. We learned that Angus Marshall, stalwart leader of the club, was unable to come due to an electrical fault on his Excel. Not John's fault after nearly 40 years!

Woollaston's Elite 

On my way to the VIP Reception Centre, I found Brian Angus and Geoff Davidson, with wives, filling the pathway. After a brief hello, I suggested trying to meet after the show. As yet, that hasn't happened, which is a shame, as both gentlemen played a significant role in my career.

Upon arrival at the VIP Lounge, close to the ex-wartime Control Tower/Clubhouse, the first person I saw was 'The Ginn'! Malcolm Ginsberg was the PRO in the early 1970s and we haven't met since. Amazingly, he has barely changed! Next was Russell Carr. Russell is the Head of Styling and Design at Lotus, and it was great to meet up again. It was cut short, so I hope we can catch up again in the future. He told me that he posted photographs of the Lotus designers in the studio, but sadly I did not have time to look at them myself!

Andy Tempest, ex-Financial Director, was my next meet, followed by instructions about my interview from Alastair Florance. I was to follow Clive Chapman in being asked questions by Guy Munday, the commentator. I managed a pretty decent plug for my book, and perhaps surprised some by answering the question, what made me most proud, with: Finishing the Opel Vauxhall safety project already 22 months shorter than GM Europe could manage – with the first car on the production line in Luton two weeks early. That was Lotus!

I then returned to the Club Lotus stand, as I promised to be there in person to support the book sales. (These, incidentally, were very good.) I love the enthusiasm of the Lotus followers; I signed a spoiler, an engine bay and had my name on the side of a fine example of the product. Various folk asked for me to pose by their cars, all of which I was very happy to do.

It was now getting past lunchtime, and I returned to the Hospitality Lounge. I was delighted to see Hazel Chapman arrive, 91-years-old, and I sat with her and had a good chat.

One interesting observation was that a number of Chinese attendees were amazed at the noise the Classic Team Lotus racing cars made. These days, Forumla 1 is somewhat quieter!

My next meet was with Van der Koi, the Lotus dealer in Kwinkweerd (love the street name), Lochen, The Netherlands. I was there in May 2011 with Bauke Kooistra, a great enthusiast, to give a talk after a great day at Appeldorn. Although Bauke was at Hethel, I failed to find him – hi Bauke!



My next task was to find the beautiful green Elite shown above. This car now has Mike Kimberley's and my signatures in the engine bay! While admiring this car, three retired ex-Pattern Shop lads came up. They told me that the old skills – and they were as good as any – have now been replaced by computer modelling equipment. Apparently, Lotus still have a traditional timber shaping workshop, but it is only used for production issues. Sad for me – but then I am from the pencil and paper, carve the wood, era.

Throughout the day, there were various demonstrations on the test rack. Geely Lotus had a large grandstand and the VIPs got to view from the old Clubhouse. Clive Chapman had a huge exhibition, but also had an amazing number of Formula 1 cars running. How they could prepare that many, I am amazed. They ranged throughout the whole history of Team Lotus, and were a joy to watch and hear.


Racing cars driving around Hethel – that brought back some memories!
I recall, back in the early 1970's, Formula 1 cars were tested on the old track, driven by the works drivers like Fittipaldi or Peterson. Everyone in the main office would be looking at their watches to time the car as it roared past the front door. If the lap time came down, there would be an audible murmur. Not very good for productivity, but superb for morale!

My next meeting was with Roger Pestle, who lives in the cottage at Ketteringham Hall that was my first daughter's birthplace. He told me he still did odd jobs for Clive's Classic Team Lotus.

Chris Dunster, one of Lotus' longest serving design engineers, was my next reunion. Chris spends most of his time sailing in his retirement, so it was nice to see him on dry land. A few minutes later and Anthony Kimberly, Mike's 'middle' son arrived. "My, how you have grown" seemed appropriate, as I hadn't seen him since he was about 7-years-old – he is now in his 50s.

I needed the toilet, and was surprised at the quality of the VIP temporary facilities. However, it summed up the quality of the whole day to read on a website that the 'ordinary folk' arrangements are way above the normal, flimsy Portaloo's used at open air events. The same website correspondences also praised the quality and price of the food and drink. I think that summed up the atmosphere of the day.

A very rewarding chat was held with Feng Qingfeng, the Chinese CEO of Lotus. I have great sympathy for him, as he does not speak English (but has an efficient interpreter) and is living in a completely new culture. I had sympathy, having experienced the same in reverse when I worked in China. I wished him every success, and have been so impressed with the future outlook for Lotus.

With 1500 Lotus cars and 7000 ticket holding people, it was a very fitting day to celebrate Lotus being in existence for 70 years. I believe that its new caretaker, Geely, will see it safely into the future.

The Chinese have a great respect for the company's history, and the day before the event, announced the creation of a new Heritage centre for Hethel's history and Lotus. This is an interesting reversal of the events back in 1998, when the historic collection of cars was sold.

The attempt to fill the whole 2.5 mile test track with cars nearly worked! What a sight!
This was a day to remember, and with talk of another gathering next year as a possibility, I cannot wait for it.

Thank you Geely, thank you Lotus, and thank you Lotus Forum. It was worth what must have been very hard work.

You can purchase your own copy of A Life in Car Design here, and make sure you keep checking the Veloce blog for the next instalment of Winterbottom's diary!


Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – August and September

The summer proved to have two major events for Oliver Winterbottom, which we covered in full on our blog previously. In today's entry, we see all that happens in the run up to the Hinckley Classic Show and Lotus' 70th Anniversary celebrations!


1 August – A long time acquaintance from the Larling Angel brings a copy of my book to the Barnham Broom Bell for signature. Unusually, it was owned and read by a friend who has passed it on to a young designer, and it was for him that I signed it. All in good humour, although I don't want too many books passed on, it affects sales!

Roger Kemp, Jaguar Drivers Club, sends the Hinckley Classic flyer to their Area 7 (Coventry area).

Nick Benton, Jaguar ex-apprentice, arranges for the Hinckley Classic flyer to be passed round at their August monthly gathering. Although it was a long time ago, many Jaguar ex-apprentices keep in touch with each other.

2 August – TVR Car Club Office say they have forwarded my message to Ralph Dodds, its PR officer.

4 August – Amazon UK £24.37, two left; it was £37.50 on 14 July. Amazon USA $47.18, with three left. They had it at $41.19 on 22 June.

A contact with a fine example of a Lotus Elite, Richard Woollaston, is (flatteringly) constructing badges featuring my signature. Emails me to say:

"After a period of messing about I have now a 'final' proposal for the badges, both for the original Elite and Eclat, and the Excel. The badges will be on a metallic silver background with dark grey colouring. This colouring should suit most car colours, and it will be printed leaving a narrow silver boarder around the image. This size will be 16.7cm w x 2.2cm h, so that people can, if they wish, affix it inside the oblong Elite/Eclat badge bezel.
"I'll book my car in for Hinckley; I meant to go last year but dates clashed, so look forward to seeing you there. With any luck, I'll be able to bring a few badges along." 

I look forward to it.

6 August – James Cox brings a book for me to sign – all the way from Inverness. It was a pleasure to catch up on nearly 20 years – and to sign it.

9 August – Two Jaguar books arrive from Veloce for my appraisal. This will be a first for me!

Autocar magazine announces that Geely are to invest £1.5 billion in Lotus. This looks like very good news to me.

10 August – Lotus' 70th Anniversary website opens (despite contacting Lotus direct, I did not know of this website). My Club Lotus contact tells me the Lotus owners tickets are all sold out, almost instantly. Guest tickets from your Lotus Dealer still available. Note my bulletin entry from 23 July: Lotus PR Dept tell me that the details for the Lotus Festival are not yet formally announced but they will let me know when they are. (They didn't.)

11 August – Lotus 70th Anniversary arrangements difficult to find. I contact a number of retired employees. We would like some recognition of our part of the company's history. I await further developments.

12 August – Create an advertising flyer for the Hinckley Classic Car Show to inform that I will have books for sale and/or signature. Propose to supply this to my club contacts after approval by Stuart Elliott a show organiser.

13 August – Submit my first book review of Jaguar From the Shop Floor by Brian Martin. I found this book most interesting as it describes the activities between 1949 and 1978. A superb read from an unusual viewpoint.

I see that both Jaguar books supplied for my review have full page advertisements for my book. Very much appreciated Veloce, thanks and lets hope they sell a few!

Response from Stuart Elliott:

"The (Hinckley) flyer looks great and look forward to seeing you at the car show; hopefully you will sell a few books. I am on holiday next week, so I'm looking forward to reading your book whilst I am away.
"The guys from Retro Power in Wykin, Hinckley we were talking to the other week are interested in brining some cars which they have ben working on, and buying your book at the same time."

14 August – Circulate my Hinckley Classic Motor Show flyer to a wide range of clubs. Hopefully it will bring folk along to see me there AND BUY A BOOK!



Veloce agree to publicise the event, thanks!

Jane Woollestone of Club Lotus agrees to publish my Hinckley flyer on its website.



Roger Kemp of the Jaguar Drivers Club will circulate the Hinckley flyer. Thanks Roger.

15 August – I submit my review of the second Jaguar title Veloce supplied, Jaguar E-Type Factory and Private Competition Cars by Peter Griffiths.

16 August – A quick check on Amazon UK shows the price of my book at £24.37 with 11 books in stock, the price unchanged but nine more book in stock since 4 August. We have gained another five star review with them. Amazon USA have the price at $48.60, $7.41 more expensive than 4 August and still with three left.

Mike Kimberley, retired Lotus CEO, visits me at home. He tells me he has a brother living in Hinckley, and will suggest he visit my stand at the Classic Motorshow. We may have met over 40 years ago, but I doubt I will recognise him.

I show Mike the book, Jaguar From the Shop Floor by Brian Martin (Veloce). Mike remembered him, and following my review, has ordered the book. This also follows my recommendation of it to Roger Kemp of the Jaguar Drivers Club.

17 August – Visit the Stratton Motor Company, my local Lotus dealer, attempting to get a ticket to the Lotus 70th Anniversary celebration at Hethel. Failed! None left. They have, however, put me on their waiting list for future tickets, but warned the list is very long!

21 August – Jane Woollestone of Club Lotus emails to say that Group Lotus are sending me (and Mike Kimberly) VIP invitations to the Lotus 70th Anniversary celebrations at Hethel, 29 September. Very well done, Jane and many, many thanks.

24 August – Good friend Terry says he will come to Hinckley Classic Motorshow. The Hinckley Show and Richard Woollaston of LotusExcel.net will launch badges with my (how embarrassing!) name on, suitable for Lotus Elite, Eclat and Excel cars. I also note that Angus Marshall has posted my recent flyer for Hinckley on the LotusExcel.net website. Thanks Angus.



25 August  – Amazon UK now have seven books in stock – thats two more gone since I last looked on 16 August.

28 August – Various organisational events for Hinckley Classic Show getting sorted out. I believe in trying to keep well ahead of the time on a project!

29 August – Personal transport into Hinckley Classic Show arranged as my vehicle, a 2015 Citroen Picasso 165hp is not yet a classic!

30 August – Sadly, the TVR Car Club have not responded to my request to publicise both the Hinckley Classic Show or my book on their website, despite sending three emails this month.

Open discussion with Club Lotus suggesting that I support the sale of my book at the Lotus Anniversary 29 September.

31 August – My copy of the weekly newspaper the Wymondham Mercury is delivered with he headline "We never dreamed Lotus would build 100,000 cars." Colin Chapman's widow, Hazel reviews the car at her home. The car, a Lotus Evora GT 410 Sport was commissioned in memory of Jim Clark and raffle tickets to win it are going on sale to help fund an expanded museum to the World Champion. yes, I have bought a ticket, fingers crossed!

1 September – From LotusExcel.net website for the Hinckley Show: Update – there are now two Elites attending, one is mine and one is a yellow S1 I haven't come across before owned by a gentleman called Colin. We will both be parked in the market square near to Oliver Winterbottom's market stall (!) – assuming we're there early enough!
Looking forward to seeing Oliver, meeting Colin and seeing his car, and to the event itself.
There's still time to book up to come along, I believe, although you won't get on the market square now.  It should be a good day if the weather holds. Signed: Richard Woollaston.

Bourne Motor racing Club confirm the date for my talk. It will be Thursday June 13 2019. This adds to the talk to Club Lotus Avon already committed on Tuesday 5 March 2019.

3 September – Amazon UK have the price back to £35.50 with seven in stock.

4 September – Amazon UK not have six in stock!

Below is the first picture of Richard Woollaston's Lotus Elite with my (embarrassing) signature badge behind the door.



5 September – All agreed with Club Lotus regarding the Lotus Anniversary arrangements. They will hold a book signing on its stand at the event. I have now bought adhesive for the posters, a Marker pen for messages on the stand, and an ingenious fold away blade to help remove the book shrink wrapping. 

6 September – Today Amazon UK have twelve in stock, thats 6 more than on 4 September.

Bad news about the Club Lotus stand at the Lotus 70th Anniversary Day. No merchandise sales are permitted by attending clubs, so the plan to sell and sign books is abandoned. 

8 September – Amazon UK now have 13 in stock. Perhaps they found one or worse, had one returned!

12 September – Everything packed and ready for the Hinckley Classic Car Show. Veloce arranged for a grand poster to be supplied – now elegantly rolled and placed in a waterproof bag. Meanwhile I see that Amazon UK have reverted to a price of £24.37 which it had one month ago. There are now seven reviews on its site, the latest a full five stars. 

14 September – Delighted to see my poster for the book at the Hinckley Classic Show on the wall in the bar of the Heathcote Arms. Thanks Hannah and Stuart. 

Me, Heathcote Arms bar and book poster

16 September – I arrived at Hinckley Market Square at 9:30 in the morning. There were 800 plus vehicles filling the town centre. Two Lotus Elites graced the middle of the area, with the organisers gazebo alongside. I agreed to bring some of my books, a pen, and a cheery smile – not sure about that – and support this massive event. It is possibly the largest town Classic show in the country. In advance, I had contacted various clubs. (Click here to read Oliver's full account of the Hinckley Classic Show.)

My poster and book supply in Hinckley Market Place


19 September – Amazon UK now have seven left – thats six gone since the 8 September.

20 September – Finalise arrangements to display the book at the Lotus 70th Anniversary at Hethel with Club Lotus.

Daughter Jane collects two books for friends.

21 September – Long time colleague and friend, Clive Roberts, contacts me to order a copy of my book – he is in it! As he lives in far off Thailand in a warm and happy retirement, I arrange for it to be send from Club Lotus.

22 September – The postman delivered my VIP ticket to the Lotus 70th Anniversary celebration at Hethel. Much appreciated.

24 September – Jane at Club Lotus agrees to advertise the availability of signed copies of the book on the club website – and she does (see below).



26 September – Visit Club Lotus in East Dereham to sign Clive Roberts' book and deliver the poster and sample book for the Lotus 70th Anniversary.

28 September – Invited to be interviewed at the Lotus 70th Anniversary and agree.

29 September – I arrive at the Lotus 70th Anniversary celebration as a privileged VIP guest. Club Lotus have the book on display and Jane Woollestone is taking advanced orders. She ends the day with eight sold. The whole event is a huge success, and I manage to advertise the book in an interview broadcast to the whole event plus streamed on the internet. Well done, and many thanks to Jane and Club Lotus.

My book on the Club Lotus stand

You can purchase your own copy of A Life in Car Design here, and make sure to keep checking the Veloce blog for the next instalment of Winterbottom's diary!



Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – Hinckley Classic Show

If you have been following our blog recently, you will be aware that Oliver Winterbottom has been gearing-up to make an appearance at this year's Hinckley Classic Show. To say the event was a roaring success would be an understatement, and Oliver documented his time there, which we now share with you. 


Hinkley, Leicestershire, is a town dating from the earliest times and which was the centre of hosiery manufacturing until recently. As that industry shrank, Hinckley started to decline, but thanks to the efforts of the Business Improvement Development and a team of local volunteers, much is being done to reinvigorate the town. I am sure many would not expect it to have the remains of a medieval castle, a fine parish church standing in parkland, and a traditional Market Square (traditional, as all the Market Squares that I know, are triangular).

Thus it was that I arrived at Hinckley Market Square on the morning of 16 September. There were 800 plus vehicles also filling the town centre, all interesting. Two Lotus Elites graced the middle of the area, with the organisers' gazebo alongside. It was here I set-up to supply and sign my book, A Life in Car Design, to those that requested it. The Steward, Stuart Elliott had cleverly arranged them as the Elites were a past design of mine. It was Stuart who got me into this in the first place!

As my sister lives near Hinckley, I visit her and her local pub, The Heathcote Arms, Croft. Stuart and Sue Elliott also visit occasionally and earlier this year we discussed my presence at the Classic Motorshow. I agreed to bring some of my books, a pen and a cheery smile – not sure about that – and support this massive event. It is possibly the largest town Classic show in the country. In advance, I had contacted various clubs, and Stuart had landlady Hannah's permission to post a poster in the back bar. To the left, myself and poster in The Heathcote Arms.


Many folk assisted me being able to be ready. These included Emma and Kevin Atkins at my publishers Veloce, who not only supplied some books but also a large poster. 

Stuart organised my transport via an original Mini 1000, driven with enthusiasm by Rob Milne, an enthusiastic member of the Leicester Sturgess motor business. 

I had huge moral support from the members of the LotusExcel.net club, with Richard Wollaston bringing his Lotus Elite, resplendent with an emblem incorporating my signature. Embarrassed to proud – well a bit of both!

Another vehicle that was part of my past was the "wedge" TVR and I was happy that Andy Hutcheson ("andytank") had passed on details at the annual meeting, so we had one of those cars present. Unfortunately it was not possible to completely take over Hinckley, so they were parked down streets nearby.

The other members of my book title trio, Jaguar, were surprisingly short in supply. A red E-Type convertible was a couple of car spaces beyond the Lotuses. 

For me, what made the event so interesting was the diversity of the exhibits. They were not parked as a group but scattered around, so one went from say, a Ferrari, to a Triumph TR7 to an Austin 7 to a DeLorean. There were many forms of transport, the steam roller winning Special Vehicle of the show! Prizes were awarded for scooters, motorcycles, classic cars and commercial vehicles. There were pre-war and post-war machines, stock cars, modified saloons, American cars – you name it, it was probably there. As were an awful lot of people!

All the pubs and cafes were open and doing a roaring trade all day as literally thousands of people strolled the streets – all free of charge – enjoying the day. 

My pitch on Hinckley Market Square, alongside a lovely Lotus Elite

The two Lotuses, with the gazebo behind

A TVR 350i enjoying the double yellow lines in Regent Street

This beautiful Rover 3.5 litre Coupé was brought by Coventry Transport Museum

Not only did we have a DeLorean, but also an ex-senior executive of the marque present. The bar across the door opening was to prevent unwanted passengers entering!
This Ford Mustang dated from 1971 – they still look the same!

The two Lotus Elites had an Excel for company. There was also an Eclat elsewhere

Here I am being interviewed live on local radio

Sue and Stuart Elliott on the left, receiving a much deserved award in recognition of their efforts organising this wonderful event

We all retired to the Heathcote for a well deserved pint after a wonderful day. Hinckley hopefully will continue to thrive – it deserves to!

You can purchase your own copy of A Life in Car Design here, and make sure to keep checking the Veloce blog for the next instalment of Winterbottom's diary!


Thursday, 20 September 2018

Bye Bye Beetle!

Another iconic car is set to become a thing of the past, as it was announced last Thursday that Volkswagen are to stop producing the Beetle in 2019.

The move comes as Volkswagen plans to focus more on what consumers are looking for in a new car, such as electric cars and larger family-orientated vehicles. Although there are no plans to replace it, there is a 'Never Say Never' attitude towards it, just like when the company decided to unveil a revamped Volkswagen Bus last year. 


"The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle's many devoted fans." – Heinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group America.


Volkswagen will finish the run by adding a pair of Final Edition models – the Final Edition SE and the Final Edition SEL – to the line up, available in both coupé and convertible body styles. Along with colours such as Pure White, Deep Black Pearl and Platinum Grey, these models will feature two unique colours: Safari Uni, a reinvention of Harvest Moon Beige, a colour from the New Beetle, and Stonewashed Blue, which pays homage to the 1970 Jeans Bug, as well as being more recently seen on the 2016 Beetle Denim. Convertible Final Edition SEL models will be available in all colours (expect Safari Uni) with a unique Brown soft top.



A timely publication, Richard Copping's Volkswagen Beetle – A Celebration of the World's Most Popular Car charts every aspect of the original Beetle's lengthy history – from Porsche's design for Hitler to it's successful move to South America. Written by an enthusiast, this tome contains a wealth of archive imagery, including some rarely seen photographs of the Beetle across the decades. What better way to help commemorate the end of an era than with this excellent book.




The third generation Beetle is set to become a collector's item with this latest announcement. It really is a shame to be saying goodbye to such an iconic model. 


Friday, 31 August 2018

An old classic gets a modern makeover

One of Jaguar's most iconic cars, the E-Type, is set to make a comeback with a new electric version approved to go into production, and available to buy from summer 2020. 


No doubt spurred on by the fact that Prince Harry whisked his new bride, Megan Markle,  to their wedding reception in an E-Type Zero back in May, Jaguar Land Rover announced that Jaguar Classic – a unit of the firm that specialises in restoring vintage models – will convert E-Types to electric power at its Classic Works facility in Coventry. 

"We've been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the Jaguar E-Type Zero concept. Future-proofing the enjoyment of classic car ownership is a major stepping stone for Jaguar Classic. The E-Type Zero showcases the incredible heritage of the E-Type, and the expertise and craftsmanship of Classic Works, while demonstrating Jaguar Land Rover's dedication to creating Zero emission vehicles across every part of the business, including Jaguar Classic."

– Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director. 

For those hoping to turn their classic eco-friendly, an EV conversion service for existing E-Type owners will also be offered. To preserve the authenticity of the base vehicle, the EV conversion will be fully reversible.



The concept

The idea behind the Jaguar E-Type Zero is that not only will it drive, handle, ride, brake and look like an E-Type, it will also offer quicker acceleration than the original Series 1 E-Type. Jaguar Classic plans to target a range in excess of 170 miles for all-electric E-Types, helped by the car's low kerb weight and aerodynamics. The concept vehicle is powered by a 40kWh battery, which can be recharged in six to seven hours. 

An electric powertrain with single-speed reduction has been specially designed for the E-Type, utilising many Jaguar I-PACE components. Its lithium-ion battery pack has the same dimension, and similar weight, to the standard E-Type's six-cylinder petrol XK engine, and is in the same location.  The electric motor lies just behind the battery pack, in place of the E-Type's gearbox. 

An electric powertrain with similar weight and dimensions to the outgoing petrol engine and transmission means that the car's structure, including suspension and brakes, has not changed. This simplifies the conversion, keeping the driving experience in line with the original vehicle. 

We're still quite a way off from these environmentally friendly E-Types, so to tide you over until then, why not check out our latest book on the model? Jaguar E-Type Factory and Private Competition Cars takes a detailed look at the racing E-Type: an exciting and important aspect of Jaguar's history. And who knows, maybe an E-Type Zero will be seen at races of the future? 


Thursday, 16 August 2018

Monterey Car Week

This weekend sees the start of Monterey Car Week, a special automotive week that is full of exciting events, auto shows, rallies, concours and car auctions that culminates at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on the 26th.


There are two major motoring bodies that will be unveiling new models that piqued our interest, and in today's blog post, we bring you details on these latest cars. 

The new Lamborghini Aventador SVJ will have it's official unveiling during Monterey Car Week. The newest super sports car form the famed Italian marque recently set the lap record for production cars at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, in a time of just 6:44.97 minutes. 

The Aventador SVJ is made of lightweight materials that contribute to the excellent weight-to-power ratio of only 1.98 kg/hp. Furthermore, Lamborghini's patented ALA 2.0 active aerodynamics system with aero vectoring guarantees handling and downforce. 

"Its tenure as the Nürburgring lap time record holder, even before its unveiling [this month], endorses Lamborghini's competence in applying superlative design engineering and ground-breaking technologies. The SVJ is a super sports car at the zenith of performance, while also ensuring unrivalled driving pleasure." – Stefano Domenicali, Automobile Chairman & CEO. 




It may cover an older model, but we have an impressive new tome! Our newest Lamborghini book, due for release in October, is all about the Lamborghini Murciélago. This book, written by Dr Thillainathan Pathmanathan, a lifelong Lamborghini enthusiast, examines the Murciélago in detail, while casting a look back through the marque's troubled history, to understand how the Murciélago came into being. This exceptional work touches on the people and organisation involved in the production of this iconic car, before examining each of the model variants, and discusses the joys and tribulations of ownership. 




BMW are another marque set to reveal a new car this week – rumour has it, it's a redesigned Z4. Monterey would be a meaningful venue, as BMW has a pattern of revealing concepts and production cars at this event; last year they showed 8-series and Z4 concept cars. 

So far as is known, the new Z4 will pull plenty of its design from the concept cars displayed last year, with a more forward face, and sweeping lines at the rear. As for power, BMW confirmed that a Z4 M40i will use the company's 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline-6. Engineers also focused on reducing the car's mass; despite the car being nearly 3 inches wider than its predecessor, the new Z4 will weigh nearly 50kg less. 

BMW's mystery reveal is set for August 23. In the meantime, if you are interested in owning a Z4, then you should first invest in our newest Essential Buyers Guide, which covers the Z4 E85 Roadster and E86 Coupe 2003-2009 – including the M and Alpina Roadster models. Packed full with loads of good advice from marque expert David Smitheram, and described as a "must have" by the Z4-forum and the BMW Car Club GB, this is the complete guide to choosing, assessing and buying the original BMW Z4. 




Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – May, June and July

With the summer show season just beginning, things are picking up for Oliver Winterbottom. In today's blog post, we'll get you right up to speed with what he's been up to of late. 

2 May – Amazon UK now have six books (more coming), so thats four gone since 19 April.

4 May – I attend the dignified Service of Thanksgiving for John Miles at Hingham Church, Norfolk. Very sadly missed. A privilege to have known and worked with him. He had the unusual trait of being totally non-political. This was a chance to say farewell and to catch up with many old Lotus faces.

5 May – Complete the slides and text notes for talks for the Bourne Motor Racing Club and the North Yorkshire Lotus Owners Club. No dates yet, but at least they are done!

7 May – Rob Ford from Club Lotus Avon opens discussion on my giving the club a talk in 2019. Happy to do so! Date being planned.

8 May – Meet an ex-Jaguar apprentice (10 years after me!), in my sister's local pub. He brought up so many names from those days that I had long forgotten. He was with an acquaintance who would bring his copy of my book for signature the following evening.

9 May – After a fascinating visit to Bletchley Park with my sister, I am myself with a signing pen. The gentleman arrived in the pub, but the book did not – it was elsewhere! OK, next time perhaps.

10 May – Arrange to give Club Lotus Avon a talk next year. Tuesday, 5 March 2019 date agreed.

11 May – The first edition of Absolute Lotus magazine arrives through my postbox. Richard Heseltine has done me (and Veloce) proud! A mention on the front cover, then in the Editorial, availability of the book in the "book & model" section, and then four pages with pictures of an in-depth interview. I wish this beautifully produced publication the very best acceptance.

Amazon UK have now re-priced the book again. It's gone down to £24.37.

15 May – Veloce monthly newsletter On The Grid informs that there are two new Jaguar books. Jaguar from the shop floor – Foleshill Road and Browns Lane 1949 to 1978 by Brian James Martin, and Jaguar E-type Factory and Private Competition Cars by Peter Griffiths. Both are of great interest to me. I don't seem to remember Brian Martin although we were in the same place at the same time! I plan to acquire these in due course.

18 May – An old colleague and friend, John, who lives in France, tells me he is buying the book. I await any (useful!) comments.

21 May – Another "free read" advertised on the internet by a different website to the two previous offers. I alert Veloce. Kevin Atkins at Veloce responds (edited below):
"The download doesn't contain a PDF, but a file in Apple Pages format, with a load of blurb and buttons to lure you into clicking. As is usual in these instances, I've submitted a DMCA take-down request, both to the WordPress site's author, and to WordPress themselves."

24 May – I like having an internet search for my book as it turns up all over the world. Today I have found it in Windsor (UK) Public Library and Toronto Public Library. On sale in Sydney Australia, New Zealand, Hamburg Germany, Singapore, and Galway Ireland. I do hope everyone enjoys it around the world. Amazon UK have sold another one, so that's five in stock.

29 May – My daughter Jane tells me she met two gentlemen last weekend who would like me to sign copies of the book for them. While not telling me who they are, she is organising it.

Stacey at the Barnham Broom Bell pub intends to buy the book. She says that Amazon have it at £24.37, but want money for shipping. Seems one needs to be lucky when using this source, as the price seems variable.

30 May – I visit Ketteringham Hall, the scene of happy days years ago in my early time at Lotus. These days, there is a tearoom overlooking the lake. I met someone whom I didn't remember but remembered me (this happens far too often). We had a good chat about old times, and he says he will get my book.

31 May – Amazon UK now have the price back at £37.50. I hope Stacey has brought hers at the price advertised on 29 May.

1 June – Daughter Jane identifies her two gentlemen as the chaps we met at Snetterton last September (see May 29).

4 June – Set out to drive to Dijon Prenois for the Grand Prix De L'Age D'Or historic races. Take a couple of new books but do not find any buyers.

8 June – Nice to meet up with an old favourite – Lotus Europa Twin Cam special, outside Chateauneuf en Auxois Chateau. I had forgotten how low slung they are! Photo courtesy of my sister.



9 June – Meet Tony Poll, British Lotus owner at the Club Lotus France classic car stand at Dijon. Sadly, I failed to meet up with Venice Thiebolt from the club. I signed a copy of my book for him last year. Although I had a couple of new copies with me, I did not get to sell them.

12 June – Met up with John Elwin in Montreal sur Mer. He is now a French resident, but ex-Lotus Cars and Team Lotus. He brings his copy of my book for signature, happily given! He gives me the news that the Lotus CEO has moved on.

13 June – Met up with Stuart Elliott at the Heathcote Arms for more information on the Hinckley Classic Motorshow (16 September) at which I may have a booth to sign books. Lotus and TVR most welcome.

16 June – My daughter Anne tells me that a 1970s Lotus Elite starred at the Sheringham Classic Car & Bike show. Seen here outside The Lobster pub.



18 June – Amazon UK have changed the book price again, its now down to £24.37. They say they have three left in stock, so thats at least three gone in the last month. Keep it up, chaps!

20 June – Contact various Lotus and TVR Clubs to judge support for the Hinckley Classic Motorshow. LotusExcel.net post it on the web, immediately.

22 June – Amazon UK £24.37 and have six in stock (so assume they have restocked since 18 June). Amazon USA $41.19 with two in stock. Amazon Japan Yen 3368, it was Yen 3459 on 13 February.

24 June – Club Lotus have listed the Hinckley Motorshow on their website; thank you. Nothing on the forthcoming events page of the TVR Car Club as yet.

25 June – I am a guest at the East Anglian Lotus Club barbecue at the White Hart Inn, Roydon near Diss, Norfolk. I enjoy picking the winner of "The Car I Wish to Take Home." It was very difficult, as the quality of cars attending was very high. I selected a beautiful red Lotus Esprit S4S. I was delighted to sign three books and had good feedback from those who had read it. Thank you Ben Needham and the EALC.



3 July – My publisher, Veloce creates a monthly newsletter On The Grid. This is primarily to notify subscribers of the latest releases. They also publish my Book Diaries, and this month's edition celebrates thus:



4 July – I receive a number of warm messages regarding my book's first birthday. Thanks, appreciated.

"Young" Ken Evans, ex-Lotus visits for a book signature. He also brings a copy belonging to John Freeman, also ex-Lotus and Topelec for signature. Had a good chat catching up on past times.

I was unhappy to hear that Ken had visited the local bookstore who did not have or recognise the book. I had spent an afternoon there, less than a year ago, to promote and sign books. I am a local author, after all. I will speak to them upon my return from the TVR weekend.

6 July – I arrive at Unchurch as a guest of the TVR Big Bad Wedge Fest 2018. This is an annual gathering of TVRs that I designed, and it is a great privilege for me to be invited.

7 July – A great convoy of TVRs drive to Rockingham Motor Speedway at Corby. They are there to support The Children's Trust, a leading charity for children with brain injuries. All the cars enter the paddock and park in the centre. The day is supported by many families with children, who can pay to have track rides. I take a number of book advertising flyers which get circulated. In the evening, I start circulating flyers for the Hinckley Classic Motorshow. I was pleased to hear some folk had already heard of it.

The green coupe was a stunning colour, in my humble opinion.


8 July – The TVR's gather at the Church End Brewery, Nuneaton. This ex-Village Hall emerged as a venue in which my late wife and I had catered for a wedding in 1969! Now a fine microbrewery, we had a good lunch and fascinating factory tour. Some kind ladies distributed all the remaining Hinckley adverts to the attending cars. The brewery honoured my presence with a beer named Winterbottom's Revenge! Thanks to all at the TVR Big Bad Wedge Fest!

11 July – I visit Ketts Books in Wymondham to understand why Ken Evans (see 4 July) was unable to get my book. The staff were most apologetic, explaining it was probably one new recruit who did not know of the book. They have assured me they have good relations with Veloce and can get the book rapidly when requested.

A quick search on the internet shows that Amazon UK have the book at £31.68 with four left in stock – more coming. Among their foreign outlets, Amazon France have it at €33.80, Amazon Germany €34.01, Italy €38.90, Amazon Japan 4695 Yen (it was 3470 Yen on 23 March!) and Amazon Brazil R$136.69.

Amazon UK have another customer review. It criticises the lack of DeLorean information. As the book explains on page 98, "I was not involved in the DeLorean project" and, indeed, not even at Lotus when most of it was done. It also suggests there are too many persons' names used, but I don't know how to avoid that.

14 July – Enjoying dinner with my family, at the Wrenningham Bird in Hand, when the conversation turns to the author Sir Ryder Haggard, a Norfolk domiciled man. A lady, dining on her own, comes over to tell us she has a number of his (very valuable) first editions, which she will leave to Norwich Library. I tell her I have my own first edition of my book and that a copy is in Norwich Library. After giving her details, she tells me she knows Sir John Egan. I explained that I left Jaguar, a company that Sir John saved from closure, 10 years before he became its Chief Executive. Naturally, I recommend my book to him – now I must read his book, Saving Jaguar.

Interestingly, Amazon UK has now put the price up to the publishers price of £37.50. It seems to vary considerably, making purchases from them a bit of a lottery!

17 July – Phil "Nobby" Clarke (Barnham Broom Bell customer), who restores old caravans, bought my book and brought it for signature on 23 February. He tells me he has read just enough to leave it open under his dining table leg to stop it wobbling. Thanks Nobby!

18 July – I get to hear that there is to be a 70th Anniversary Festival at Lotus, Hethel on 29 September. I can get no details; nothing on the company website at this stage. I contact Lotus for details.

Message from Richard Wollaston, a Lotus Elite owner who wishes to put my name on his car! On a trip to the Austrian Grand Prix:
"PS I should have mentioned in my email of yesterday that there was a lot of interes on the Elite, and admiration for its design during my trip. I bumped into a retired airline pilot in Luxembourg who said it embodied the futuristic spirit of the 70s – I think he got it spot on. There certainly seems to be growing admiration for the wedge designs these days, even amongst Lotus traditionalists." 
Thanks Richard, its great to get recognition.

19 July – Angus Marshall of LotusExcel.net suggest the NEC Classic Car Show in November should be an opportunity to celebrate Lotus First 70 Years. Mike Kimberly and I agree and consider supporting it.

22 July – Walk into the Barnham Broom Bell to find an elderly couple relaxing in the bar. The gentleman used to work at Lotus in Powertrain and Quality, but retired a long time ago. Using my advertisement still on display, I could explain my book and confirm that Jerrold's bookshop in Norwich should have a copy.

23 July – Lotus PR Dept tell me that the details for the Lotus Festival are not yet formally announced, but they will let me know when they are.

25 July – Emailed the TVR Car Club advising them of the Hinckley Classic Car Show and my book. It would be nice if they could put my book in the online club shop.

28 July – Weekend spent with my sister near Hinckley, so took the opportunity of checking out the location for the September Classic Car Show. Saw Stuart Elliot and discussed the car show. He will provide a kiosk and can store books for sale in the boot of his MG at the display. I must get final plans in place!

30 July – Contacted Jaguar ex-apprentice and a JDC contact about the Hinckley Show.

You can purchase your own copy of A Life in Car Design here, and make sure to keep checking the Veloce blog for the next instalment of Winterbottom's diary!