Tuesday 10 December 2019

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – November 2019

In the last entry before Christmas, Oliver recounts his visit to this year's NEC Classic Car Show. 

3 November – Interesting day assisting with information for the forthcoming exhibition stand for the Lotus Elite Excel Club at the NEC Classic Car Show. The Lotus Elite will feature its 45th Anniversary this year.

7 November – I drive to my sister who lives near Leicester. As I start from Norfolk, the obvious route is via the A14 which includes a section from Cambridge to Huntingdon. This road is now a massive traffic jam due to a major improvement scheme. The construction work on the 12 mile stretch started in November 2016 and will open in December 2019, a total of 37 months. By contrast, the first section of the M1 which ran for 54 miles with 131 bridges and 92 culverts, opened on time in 1959, having taken 19 months.

8 November – I make my way to the Birmingham International Railway station where I park to visit the National Exhibition Centre. I am met by Richard Woollaston who is managing the Lotus Elite Eclat Excel Club stand for the Classic Car Show. The stand was adorned with Colin Pear's Lotus Elite S1, Pete Poulton with his first Lotus Eclat Sprint, belonging to his grandson, Ian Hissey's white Elite restoration project and Gill Windwood's Lotus Excel. Banners announced that this year is the Elite's 45th Anniversary, it being released to the world on 15 may 1974.

I was interviewed by Practical Classics magazine and by Classic Car Weekly. Photographs were taken of Mike and myself to recreate the one taken in 1973 (above). The 2019 version show below.

A number of people came to ask me to sign copies of my book, and as Richard Woollaston had brought his copy, a number attempted to buy one. Chaters the bookseller had a stand, but quickly sold out! With the Club Lotus, the Historic Club Lotus and the Lotus Drivers Club nearby, the old company was well represented.
A pleasant chat was had with Ben Needham of the East Anglian Lotus Club. Having given them a talk in June 2018, I said I was happy to give them another if requested. I was please to meet Stuart Bagshaw, who had given me a ride after the Hinckley Show in September. Between Mike Kimberley and myself, we had quite a busy day. The presentation of the Lotus Elite family was very gratifying – 48.5 years since I drew out that shape!

I am posing alongside the first Lotus Eclat Sprint built

The Lotus Elite looked very smart

10 November – My sister and I attended the Remembrance Parade at Croft, Leicestershire. The Remembrance service at Croft has grown out of all proportion for a village of around 1800 inhabitants. Croft Hill and its associated quarry – the largest manmade hole in Europe – has had the Queen's wreath laid by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County for the last 28 years. A poster in the pub notes that an amazing sum of over £37,000 has been raised for the British Legion.

The delightful poppy-decorated hedge below The Heathcote Arms
As 11 o'clock approached, the band played and the participants came down the hill towards the war memorial. Army cadets were joined by Boy Scouts, Guides and even very, very young people.
The names of those killed in the two World Wars in Croft, Huncote and Thurlaston were read out and it was far, far too longer list. Many, many wreaths were laid following the placing of the Queen's wreath on the hill below the Huncote Arms. Prayers and gyms were led by the local church. A truly worthy moment of remembrance and thanksgiving. 

13 November – Classic Car Weekly publishes their interview with me at the Classic Car Show. 

16 November – I set out to buy a copy of the magazine (above) but managed to confuse myself by looking for the wrong title – so I failed. It's my age, probably!

18 November – I am delighted to receive a copy of a photograph taken at the NEC Classic Car Show of Mike Kimberly (left) and myself on the Sunbeam Lotus Owners Club stand. I ran one of these superb cars as a company car in the 1980s. 

21 November – Today, Mike Kimberley and I were to travel to a lunch near London with three other retired Lotus Directors and the company aircraft pilot. Sadly, poor health has forced a last minute postponement until next year. 

I receive the email newsletter On The Grid from Veloce Publishers. It contains this delightful comment – many thanks! "This issue covers some of our exciting new book launches, as well as our beloved author and contributor, Oliver Winterbottom, whose monthly bulletin can always be found on our blog. Ever wondered what a retired world-class car designer gets up to? Find out in this issue of On The Grid!"

22 November – I receive a very nice TVR Wedge calendar for 2020. Titled "A Wedge of Defiance", which is perhaps a little more aggressive than we were when creating the cars! It is beautifully produced, and very much appreciated. 

Tesla Cybertruck
This was also the day that Tesla showed their electric Cybertruck. The styling is a personal matter, although we usually used some curves in body design! The safety of its occupants, pedestrians and other road users is of major concern. The ability of the body to absorb and dissipate impacts appears very low. The body panels are made of 3mm ultra hard stainless steel capable of resisting 9mm bullets. It also has almost no crushable distance forward of the wheels. Further, the sharp edges of the body would probably fail to meet European legislation for exterior protrusions. 

26 November – I receive a message from Richard Woollaston explaining that the latest issue of the magazine Practical Classics was published on 25 November. They interviewed me at the Classic Car Show, but their deadline for a copy was three days before the show. He will check if is is included for me as Wymondham no longer has a big magazine shop.

30 November – This will be my last monthly bulletin published by Veloce Publishing before Christmas. While wishing all my readers Seasonal Greetings I must remind them that the purchase of A Life in Car Design would be a superb gift to themselves or indeed anyone!

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 21 November 2019

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – October 2019

In this month's instalment of Oliver Winterbottom's diary, a talk at the Bourne Motor Club is the main event. 

5 October – I collected my son-in-law, and we were soon enjoying lunch at Arbuckles outside Downham Market. Part way through the meal I exclaimed "Oh, look, the toasters have arrived!" An electric toaster was always how I thought of the stainless steel-clad DeLorean sports car. Indeed, some 14 or 15 of them arrived, parking around the back of the premises.

The DeLoreans at Downham Market

We were soon on our way to the BRM Association Evening at Bourne, Lincolnshire and arrived at the Delaine Bus Museum on Spalding Road, the site of the old BRM works. British Racing Motors was a successful Formula 1 team in the 1950s to the end of the 1970s. The founder, who was a cousin of mine, lived in Eastgate House just behind the current bus business. There was a display of a large number of photographs, many not seen before, as well as a BRM 153 racing car.

The BRM 153 in Yardley sponsorship colours, with many period photographs on display behind it

As 6:30pm approached, we arrived at the Corn Exchange. It was here the evening event was held, and we joined seven folk at a table laden with very nice plates of buffet food. Jackie Oliver, who drove Formula 1 for Lotus and BRM, Can Am sports cars and who won Le Mans with Jackie Ickx in a Ford GT40, gave us an interesting talk. Afterwards, a number of people said they would be coming to hear my talk on Thursday 10 October, and that the evening was a "sell out."

8 October – Graeme Lawton of the Sunbeam Lotus Club asks if he can use my story of their visit to Classic Team Lotus last September. Delighted to permit this.

I meet the owner of the Lotus Europa (mentioned on 9 September of this bulletin) at the Bird in Hand pub for lunch. We had a fascinating two or three hour chat and were joined by Mike Kimberly, the Europa Twin Cam project leader. It was suggested that we both were lucky to work in the industry in its Golden Years, and I think we both agree

10 October – I arrive at the Angel Hotel, Bourne in preparation for my talk for the Bourne Motor Racing Club. At 7 o'clock I arrived at Bourne Corn Exchange to prepare for the evening. A number of people had arrived when I entered to meet Robert Denton, who was in charge of the computer used to show my slides. All was well with that, and the lapel microphone needed to reach the fairly large room.
I was delighted to meet a number of people who had arrived early, and one of the first was full of praise with my book, which he had enjoyed immensely. I had no problem signing his copy! I met Roger Fountain, who has published a book entitled Phoenix. It is about the transformation of a pile of burnt out scrap into a 1930s Riley sports car. It is obtainable in hardback or paperback from internet book retailers. Another interesting chat was held with Jeff Ward, a member of the Peterborough Engineering Society. I agreed to give them a talk whenever there was an opportunity.

The audience shortly before the talk started. The front rows where then filled.

8 o'clock and I was introduced and started my talk. I started by explaining my family connections with Bourne, home of Raymond Mays of ERA and BRM racing cars who was a cousin, and that I knew a number of ex-BRM staff while I was at Lotus. My talk then explained why I had written my book, A Life in Car Design, and the process by which it was done.
I spoke for an hour, presenting the basic contents of my book. I took a Question and Answer session, and there were quite a few very good questions; I cannot vouch for the answers. The crowd had filled the room, and I received much positive feedback from the event, so I happily walked back the short distance to the Angel.
I really enjoyed this opportunity, and I am glad that the Bourne Motor Racing Club is so active and friendly. Thanks to everyone!

12 October – Mike Kimberly sends me a copy of the two articles featuring himself in the July/August and September/October editions of Absolute Lotus magazine. I am flattered with his positive comments concerning myself and the use of the contemporary photographs of ourselves with the Lotus Elite and the Lotus M90.

16 October – I am asked if I would give a talk to the Porsche Club of GB, Hertfordshire. It would not be for some time, but I replied saying I certainly would be happy to do so.

24 October – My copy of Club Lotus News arrives and has my brief story of my sister and I visiting the Silverstone Classic in July. This Lotus Elite made a fine display.

30 October – Busy arranging my visit to the Lancaster Classic Car Show at the NEC 8 November to attend the Lotus Elite Eclat Excel Club stand for the Elite's 45th birthday.

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!

Monday 11 November 2019

A Patina Porsche 356 ...

An incredibly rare Porsche 356A is up for sale from Thornley Kelham in Gloucestershire.  

With its original factory 1600cc engine, chassis 107479, and eye-catching patina, this Porsche is truly a one-of-a-kind. An end of production, right-hand-drive, this vehicle was originally completed in May 1959 and sold by AFN to England and British Lions ruby player, Frank Sykes. The patina is a unique blend of bare metal, red, and its original silver metallic paint, emphasised by a previous paint removal attempt.

In storage for the last 30 years, this 1959 Porsche 356A is now being sold with one of two options for restoration. The first option would aim to restore the car, whilst taking care to retain as much of the patina as possible, by carefully replacing sections of rusted bodywork and undertaking a full mechanical and interior restoration. The bodywork will then be clear-coated to preserve the unique patina for the rest of the car's lifespan.

The second restoration option would comprise of a full ground-up restoration, returning the car to its original paint and trim combination. This would include a complete re-trim of the interior, chassis strengthening and drivetrain rebuild.

The history of the Porsche 356A is covered in our latest limited edition book. The Ultimate Book of the Porsche 356 is a new, individually numbered, luxury leather-bound and slip-cased limited edition, comprising just 356 copies.

The definitive and fascinating account of the Porsche 356, and all the racing and rallying cars that sprang from it, told in breathtaking detail by marque expert Brian Long.

Stunning colour and historic photographs, colour and trim options, range details, engine specifications, chassis numbers, and production figures from the Gmünd cars to very last production models, make this exclusive edition a historical reference to treasure.

Truly a Catalogue Raisonné for the world's most discerning Porsche 356 enthusiasts, this book is only available from our dedicated website: https://ultimate356.veloce.co.uk Be sure to reserve your special number today!

Wednesday 6 November 2019

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – September 2019

In this month's instalment, Oliver attends this year's Hinckley Classic Car Show, has a blast from the past in the form of a church visit, and has a mention in Classic & Sports Car magazine. Read on to find out all about his rather busy September!

2 September – Delighted to be invited to the Sunbeam Lotus Owners Club gathering at Classic Team Lotus on Saturday 7 September.

4 September – Meet a new Lotus staff recruit in Hethersett Queens Head. I direct him to the poster advertising my book and hope he cannot stop himself purchasing one.

7 September – I enjoyed a visit to Classic Team Lotus courtesy of the Sunbeam Lotus Owners Club. They were celebrating their 27th National Day. I had one of these wonderful cars for 85,000 miles in the early 1980s, so it was a happy reminder to see them lined up at Hethel.

The Talbot Sunbeam Lotus' outside Classic Team Lotus

Myself with a Sunbeam Lotus similar to my car

9 September – I receive an interesting email from the owner of a Lotus Europa Reg No XNG 176H, which was the wind tunnel test vehicle for the Europa Twin cam project in 1971. The gentleman had found me via an article I posted about the liberation of Belsen Concentration Camp and my father's role in that. Interestingly, he attached a couple of photographs of the car in the MIRA wind tunnel. He also said he had just ordered a copy of my book, for which I thanked him and wished him enjoyment reading it.

Lotus Europa Twin Cam prototype in the MIRA wind tunnel, 1971

St. John's, Marchington Woodlands, Staffordshire

14 September –  I visit the church I attended as a schoolboy, St. John's, Marchington Woodlands. It was open for a visiting day, raising money for Staffordshire Historic churches. I created some interest as I last participated there in July 1958! The lady president showed much interest in my book and hinted she may visit Waterstones bookshop in Burton upon Trent shortly.

15 September – I attend the Hinckley Classic Car Show with a table and chair under a gazebo in the Market Place. My book is on display and a number of people from the motor industry in the past stopped to have a chat. These included Barrie Wills, ex Jaguar and DeLorean. Two Lotus were on display in the town centre among 921 vehicles on display, making this the largest town centre motor show. An estimated 20,000+ people enjoyed a day enlivened with live music, children's activities and a superb collection of interesting vehicles. A rare Piper GT from the mid-1970s won Car of the Show.

Left: Richard Woollaston's Lotus Elite
Right: Stuart Bashaw's Lotus Excel

The very satisfying final flourish was getting a lift home in Stuart's Excel. What was interesting was that I thought they must have resurfaced the road since arriving in a German based car this morning. The Lotus ride was superb!

21 September – I visit the Woodfordes Classic Cars & Automobile Show at the Fur and Feather pub, Woodbastwick, Norfolk. This is the first event that Woodfordes Brewery have organised, and when I arrive, it's obviously very well supported. Under a blue sky in pleasantly warm temperature, I walk into the display field. I am looking for a beautiful (well, I would say that) Lotus Elite. There were plenty of various Lotus models, but towards the distant hedge, two Elites. I introduced myself to Rob Barrett, and happily autographed the engine bay. The car is surprisingly original, having been lovingly looked after for many years. Later, I supplied a copy of my book A Life in Car Design, and signed that.

Part of the extensive show ground

The first Lotus Elite I spotted

Rob Borrett's beautiful Elite (If I do say so myself!)

23 September – I am delighted to receive a praise-worthy message about my design work from the owner of a TVR Tasmin Convertible, and in the past, a number of Lotus Esprits. He states he is an admirer of Colin Chapman, so I suggest he gets my book if he hasn't done so already. Made my day!

24 September – I see that Amazon UK have upped the price of the book to £38.50, and now have six in stock; it had been four.

26 September – I complete my preparation for the talk I am giving to the Bourne Motor Racing Club on Thursday 10 October. A trip to Norwich to buy a memory stick for the slides and a restock of inks for my printer. Bourne in Lincolnshire was home to ERA and BRM racing cars, and some of my mother's relations.

27 September – I am sent a copy of the latest Classic & Sports Car magazine, with an article entitled "Luxury coupés: Mercedes 230CE vs Lotus Elite Vs Lancia Gamma." Written by Martin Buckley, he selects the Lotus Elite as the winner! I even get a mention: "The Oliver Winterbottom-styled glass-fibre body – on a proven backbone chassis – was made by the new VARI process, injection moulded in two halves. It was nothing new in concept, but a philosophical revolution for Hethel in that it represented an attempt to built fewer cars with higher profit margins."

Front to back: Lancia, Lotus and Mercedes from Classic & Sports Car

29 September – LotusExcel.net publish my story on the Woodfordes Classic Car Show in full. The reproduction of the picture is superb. Many thanks to Richard Wollaston for this, and I hope it brings enjoyment.

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!

Wednesday 16 October 2019

The first female F1 driver in over 40 years ... ?

For the first time in 43 years, a female driver is poised to race in Formula 1.

Tatiana Calderón is a test driver for the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team, and this year was signed by BWT Arden to drive for them in the current FIA Formula 2 Championship – the first woman to drive in the championship. The 26-year-old Columbian knew from a young age that she wanted to race cars, having grown up attending races, and taking part in kart racing as a hobby.

Courtesy: Motorsportpic.de

Teammate to the late Antoine Hubert, Calderón is helping to pave the way for a new wave of female drivers – she is an ambassador for the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission, an advocate for Dare to be Different, and is a part of the W series, the ground-breaking racing series for women launched last October. 

There have only been a handful of female drivers who have driven at Formula 1 level, with Desiré Wilson being the only woman to ever win a Formula 1 race, winning at Brands Hatch in the British Aurora F1 championship in 1980. Driven by Desire, published by Veloce, recounts Wilson's incredible and unique career, from grassroots racing, to Formula 1 and the IndyCar World Series, this fascinating story shows that a woman can, and did, fight her way to the top of motorsport. 

Calderón will be staying in Formula 2 for the rest of this year and, if there are no upcoming chances to join Formula 1, she'll seek a sponsor so she can drive in Formula 2 for another year. 

Speaking to Forbes: "My goal is to 100 percent get to Formula 1. I know I can do it. It is just about putting everything together in the right moment."

Our latest Formula 1 books,  Formula One: All The Races – The First 1000 (limited to 1000 numbered copies, exclusively available from our dedicated website) and Formula 1 The Knowledge (signed copies available) contain all the facts, figures and statistics that you could possibly want to know when it comes to Grand Prix racing. And who knows, maybe in future editions of these books, there could be more female drivers appearing in those stats!

The New Defender ...

Last month, we saw the first footage of the 2020 Land Rover Defender. Since then, there have been many, many questions flying about, though they all boil down to two:

  • Does the new Defender strike the right tone with its loyal fans?
  • In the 2020 4x4 market, where does the new Defender belong?

As an icon of rural life and rugged adventures for the best part of seventy years, the 4x4 ceased production in January of 2016. The decision was made following new legislation that made the legacy style, in a technical sense at least, dangerous. We saw a similar reincarnation when the Mini was reborn in 2000. The trouble with making rather drastic design alterations to an iconic car, is that people are VERY resistant to change. Especially when they've fallen in love with an idea, shape or concept and other people make the decision to change the very thing for which they have so much affection. 

Aesthetically speaking, JLR have tried hard to recreate the simplistic, functional interior of a classic Land Rover. There are nods to the tough, utilitarian style of the former model, such as checker plating on the bonnet but, let's be honest, it does't serve the purpose for which is was originally intended – so why is it there?

The vehicle of the past's appeal was that you could transport a newly born calf in the back, or a 50-gallon drum, and hose it all down afterwards – not something that could be said of the new Defender. Even if one could wash the interior, the bright, cream coloured trim of the demo models certainly doesn't assure anybody that it won't get stained in an instant. 

With a price tag of £40k, on paper it could possibly be considered affordable. However, like most high-end car dealerships, JLR dealer's money is made on the customisable upgrades, of which the new Defender is certainly not short. Official add-ons, such as a variety of pet packs, a portable rinse system and an integrated air compressor, show that JLR have obviously considered at least some of the needs and wants of their loyal customers. 

With the option of four distinctive packs – called Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban – to apply to your Defender, and more than 170 individual accessories that can be added to suit your individual needs, it's no wonder that the cost can easily rise to £100k+. However, the augmented value of a purchase from such an auspicious manufacturer as Jaguar Land Rover, such as aftercare and dealership services also make up the entire value of a Defender. 

A huge selling point of the original was ease of maintenance. Now no parts or panels are the same as any other Land Rover made previously, which means that the parts that could be salvaged from a scrapheap or fabricated on earlier models, can no longer be used by the home mechanic – something that kept maintenance costs down. Given the appeal of low-cost home maintenance, if a customer still owns a traditional Land Rover, which works perfectly well, why would hey buy a 2015 model? Why would they even consider replacing their old workhorse when it still serves its purpose so well?

Are you a fan of all things Land Rover, and want to know more about how their designs and uses have changed over the years? Land Rover Design – which has been shortlisted for The Royal Automobile Club's Book of the Year Award – charts the many design changes that have occurred over its 70 year history, whereas Land Rover Emergency Vehicles shows that the much loved Landy is more than just a farm vehicle. If you're looking to purchase your own classic Land Rover, we have a range of Essential Buyers Guides, plus our expert guide on the Land Rover Series I-III

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Oliver Winterbottom – August Bulletin


2 August  I agree to give Club Lotus Avon a talk on 7 April 2020. Now I have to work on
the subject, as this will be my third or fourth evening with them. “People Wot I Knew” is the theme I am researching, including Sir William Lyons of Jaguar and Colin Chapman of Lotus.

5 August  A copy of Lotus reMarque, the magazine for the Lotus Ltd Club in the USA, arrives through my letterbox. Kindly sent by William Taylor (Coterie Press) it features a superb article by Tom Smith, the owner of the Lotus M90 / X100 prototype. It describes the restoration of this unique vehicle and generously mentions my book. I particularly liked the comments on the exterior mirrors which are totally realistic, although made of wood, as we could not tool up for just one car! Supported by lavish photographs, Tom has done it and me proud - thank you Tom.

The opening page of the reMarque article.
6 August  Amazon UK appear to have sold two more books recently. Every one counts!

7 August  This is the big day! I leave Wymondham to drive to Kent, to see the JCL Mamba boat I designed in 1976. This visit was postponed from 31 July and I reached the meeting place, a few minutes early, for our 11:30 rendezvous. Once parked by the railway station, I managed to fail to download my text messages, so, as there was no Kevin off the train, I called him. He was so apologetic. Upon reaching Victoria Station in London to travel to meet me, a fire at the station had closed it. He was so apologetic but it was outside his control. I returned to Norfolk in time for a late lunch. We will try and arrange attempt Number 3.

8 August  We arrange a new date to go and see the Mamba boat I designed in 1976. Third time lucky, hopefully, on 22 August!

9 August  I am absolutely amazed to read that the Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police collided with an oncoming car because she had strayed to the wrong side of the road when trying to find the Bluetooth telephone control in her car. Hardly hands-free, then. She was awarded £1,460 in fines and costs, and had seven points added to her licence. When will people understand that mobile phones are not compatible with driving. Why not telephone BEFORE driving off? Yes, I know I am old fashioned!

13 August  Following my supplying details of the talk I will give to the Bourne Motor Racing Club, I now have the overnight accommodation reserved at the Angel. Bourne, Lincolnshire has family connections through my mother's family and was the home of a distant cousin, Raymond Mays, who was behind the ERA and BRM racing cars. The talk is to be presented on Thursday 10 October.

15 August  Amazon UK appear to have run out of stock with more due in 3 or 4 days. That's good news for me.

17 August  I visit Malcolm Ricketts' race workshop open day annual charity barbecue at Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire. Malcolm has been a long time racing driver of Lotus cars. After a good drive down from Norfolk, I arrive at 11:30. There are a large number of interesting cars, with at least eight 1970s Lotus Elite type. Malcolm was very complimentary on my designs and was tireless  in organising the event. A superbly restored Lotus 38 race car dominated the cars on show, and after lunch was started up after Malcolm had received the OK from the local residents.

The Lotus 38 was the first rear-engined car to win the Indianapolis 500, in 1965, driven by Jim Clark. It was run by Lotus at Indianapolis from 1965 to 1967; a total of 8 were built, most for use by Lotus, but several were sold for use by other drivers. I met a number of people including Mike Hamlin, onetime pilot of the Lotus aircraft, Richard Woollaston, champion of the Lotus Elite, and various other interesting people. There was just about every Lotus road car-type represented and all done as
a sociable event. Hopefully the tickets raised plenty of charity money from this delightful event.

 General view of the Malcolm Ricketts' event, there were many more Lotus of all types around the venue.
22 August  I drive down to Kent to be reunited with a project I last saw in January 1977. The JCL Mamba was a design I did in 1976. I had never seen a production boat, as I left the company after the prototype was built. I'd been contacted by Kevin, the current owner, on 27 June and this visit is the third attempt to meet up, following various postponements. The vessel has been neglected for about 15 years but in general looks better than one would have expected. Kevin and I discussed what he would like to do and I hope I gave him some tips on what could, or could not, be technically feasible. This design was about half the weight of similar sized boats, achieved by utilising the furniture and bulkheads as a unitary structure. The two diesel engines are totally corroded and the cost of restoring them is prohibitive.

Myself with the Mamba!
We discussed various opportunities to get her back in the water and I am currently thinking these through! We repaired to good local pub and had a pleasant lunch before I volunteered to join the massive queue for the privilege of using the Dartford River Crossing and the return home. Interestingly, Kevin has yet to buy my book – but plans to do so immediately!

 Mamba needs a bit of a clean after 15 years of neglect.
25 August  A friend brings a copy of my book to the pub. Expecting a signature request I find its a Norfolk Library copy. I am very grateful the library holds a copy. We discussed various aspects of my story in it.

26 August  I am driving on the B1108 Norwich to Watton Road and when I reach Kimberley I find the railway crossing gates closed. Very slowly, the huge steam locomotive Union of South Africa crosses hauling a Mid Norfolk Railway train. One of six surviving Gresley A4 engines built in 1937; I was amazed and excited by this huge piece of superb engineering.

27 August  I am delighted that Club Lotus and the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excel Clubs post information on the Hinckley Classic Car Show, on 15 September, to their websites. It is possibly the biggest town centre show in the country. I will attend and have copies of my book available.

Thursday 15 August 2019


(Crewe, 8th August 2019) Bentley has re-created a long-lost car from its illustrious past that provides a crucial link in the history of its most important models. The ground-up rebuild of the only 1939 Corniche ever made highlights the marque’s pedigree of design and technological innovation, the breadth of skills within Mulliner’s bespoking division, and connects the fabled Embiricos 4¼ Litre and R Type Continental.

The only car of its type now in existence thanks to the skills of Mulliner, the Corniche was conceived to be a high performance version of the new MkV saloon, itself a technological advance that was due to be launched in October 1939.

The styling of the Corniche was a radical step forward from the traditional Bentleys of the 1920s and ‘30s, introducing ‘Streamlining’ to help deliver greater speed and performance, and heavily influenced post-war models from the R Type Continental right through to the current Continental GT.

The original Corniche was lost in France in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II. It was extensively damaged in a traffic accident whilst undergoing road tests in France in August 1939. Sent for repairs, the chassis made it home to the Bentley plant in Derby, but the bodywork was destroyed in a bombing raid on Dieppe later in 1939 and was never seen again.

Until now.

The project was originally started several years ago by volunteers from the WO Bentley Memorial Foundation and the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation, but was brought in-house in February 2018 under the watchful eye of Chairman and Chief Executive Adrian Hallmark, who asked for it to be completed in 2019 to celebrate Bentley’s centenary.

“The 1939 Corniche was a clear step in Bentley’s design language which is evident when set aside the later and now iconic R Type Continental. It is a pivotal car in the history of Bentley, demonstrating that even then, this great British marque was at the cutting edge of design and technology,” comments Hallmark. “Mulliner’s stunning recreation of the Corniche clearly demonstrates our skill in restoring the greats from Bentley’s back catalogue as well as making beautiful personalised modern Bentleys.”

Monday 12 August 2019


The motorsport-derived 911 variant debuted 20 years ago
Atlanta, Georgia. 20 years ago, Porsche introduced a new 911 model the 911 GT3. Named after a class of endurance racing cars, the motorsport-derived variant focused on track performance and a particularly visceral driving experience by offering motorsport technology for the road. A high-revving naturally-aspirated flat six engine closely related to the engine used in motorsports, rear wheel drive, lightweight construction, upgraded aerodynamics and track-focused suspension and brake systems have been defining characteristics of this model throughout its 20 year history.

The beginnings
The first 911 GT3 model was introduced to the European market in 1999. It was one of the first production cars to officially lap the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife in less than 8 minutes, with rally legend Walter Rӧhrl going around the famous track in just 7:56.33 minutes – a sensation at the time. The car distinguished itself from rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera models through a 30 mm reduction in ride height, pronounced front fascia, visible side skirts and a fixed rear wing – all designed to reduce lift while still delivering a very efficient 0.30 drag coefficient. The angle of attack of the rear wing is adjustable for use on closed-course tracks.

The original 911 GT3 was powered by a 265 kW (360 PS) 3.6 liter naturally-aspirated flat six engine that was derived from the Le Mans winning Porsche 911 GT1 race car and revved up to 7,800 rpm. Mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission carried over from the 911 GT2 (993 generation), the first 911 GT3 reached a top track speed of 187 miles per hour. The track-focused model also featured staggered 18-inch wheels and tires, larger brakes compared to the 911 Carrera, a standard limited slip differential, and an upgraded suspension that allowed for greater mechanical adjustment of anti-roll bars and suspension geometry for closed-course track setup. Taking advantage of weight savings measures such as the deletion of air-conditioning and rear seats, the 911 GT3 weighed just 2,976 lbs. (1350 kg).

The successor
Four years later, the 911 GT3 received significant updates, and was offered in North America for the first time. Based on the facelifted 996 generation 911, horsepower grew to 381, torque rose from 273 to 285 lb-ft, and the redline climbed to 8,200 rpm. This was possible by updating the engine with longer titanium connecting rods, lighter pistons, the variable camshaft adjustment system VarioCam, and lighter intake and exhaust valves. As a result, the 2004 model year 911 GT3 accelerated from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds, and achieved a top track speed of 190 miles per hour. The car remained paired to a six-speed manual transmission, albeit with modified ratios for gears five and six. In addition to restyled fasciae, a new rear wing and updated wheel design, this model featured wider front and rear tires. Underscoring the effort of the Motorsport department to save weight wherever possible, the new wheel/tire combination saved 2.2 lb in spite of the increase in size thanks to flow-formed wheel technology. Larger front brake rotors, up from 330 mm to 350 mm, and 6-piston calipers increased pad-to-rotor contact by about 40 percent. As an option, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) with carbon-ceramic brake rotors was available for the first time in the GT3, taken from the 996-generation 911 GT2.

Third generation of GT3 arrives
Based on the 997-generation of 911, a new 911 GT3 model was unveiled in 2006. Still powered by a 3.6 liter naturally-aspirated flat six, horsepower now crossed the 400 threshold, rising to 415. The engine was now capable of revving up to 8,400 rpm. The 2007 911 GT3 sprinted from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds and reached a top track speed of 193 miles per hour. The six speed transmission offered 15 percent shorter shift throws and a reduction of ratios for gears two through six, pairing well to power delivery of the engine. To make full use of the increase in power, the suspension was enhanced with divided control arms offering greater adjustment of camber angle. Additionally, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) was offered as standard for the first time on the GT3, offering the capability of electronically adjusting the dampers. Wheel diameters grew to 19-inches, the size of the standard rear cast iron brake rotors increased to 350 mm, the optional PCCB rotors grew to 380 mm at the front axle, and Ultra-High Performance tires (UHP) were mounted to further increase grip.

The 997 became the first 911 GT3 model to be equipped with a traction control system (TC), which complemented the standard limited slip differential by giving the driver greater control, particularly on slippery surfaces. The car was also fitted with a “SPORT” button for the first time, reducing backpressure in the exhaust and put the traction control system in a more dynamic mode. In spite of the added technology and safety equipment such as new Sport Seats with side airbags, the car tipped the scales at just 3,075 lb (1395 kg) thanks to new weight-saving aluminum doors and luggage compartment lid. The 911 GT3 of the 997 generation was characterized by new styling, with cues such as the air outlet in front of the luggage compartment lid designed to extract air from the front center radiator and increase downforce at the front axle. This was also the first model to feature center-mounted tailpipes for the exhaust. The interior offered new features such as a steering wheel, hand brake lever and gearshift lever covered with Alcantara.

Larger engine, faster lap times
For the 2010 model year, the 911 GT3 received not only a visual update as part of the facelifted 997 generation, but also a number of significant technical changes. For the first time, the engine displacement of the race-derived flat six was no longer 3.6, but 3.8 liters. 435 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque propelled the new model from 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat and on to a top track speed of 194 miles per hour while reaching engine speeds of up to 8,500 rpm. The 911 GT3 of this generation featured even more technology directly adopted from motorsport, such as the new center lock hubs for the 19-inch wheels which increased driving performance with lower rotating masses. At the same time, electronic stability control (ESC) complemented the traction control system introduced on the previous model, adding another layer of control for the driver. An optional front axle lift system was introduced for the first time, offering an additional 1.2 inches (30 mm) of ride height at the front axle to clear driveways and speed bumps. Ultimately, the most impressive trait of this 911 GT3 was its increased track performance. With the latest generation of UHP-tires and PASM calibration as well as optional dynamic engine mounts, it lapped the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in just 7 minutes and 40 seconds.

The 991 generation GT3
Introduced in 2013 for the 2014 model year, the 911 GT3 based on the newly introduced 991-generation adopted one of the biggest advancements in performance and technology ever seen on a road car: the seven-speed Porsche dual-clutch transmission (PDK). It had already been available on the 911 Carrera and Turbo variants of the previous generation, but was significantly modified to suit the characteristics of this race-bred model and fitted as standard. Lighter gear sets reduced the weight of the unit by about four pounds compared to the standard 911 Carrera models, and the gear ratios were shortened to suit the high-revving nature of the naturally-aspirated 475 hp 3.8 liter flat six which featured direct injection for the first time and revved to an impressive 9,000 rpm. Top track speed was 195 mph, reached in seventh gear. Due to the Launch Control feature and lightning quick shifts of less than 100 milliseconds, the 0 to 60 mph time dropped significantly to just 3.3 seconds. The track performance of this latest 911 GT3 also benefited from the new 991 platform. Track widths and body stiffness increased, PASM system advanced, and standard center-lock wheels were made of forged aluminum for the first time while increasing to 20-inch diameter. They were fitted with the latest generation of UHP-tires, and rear axle steering was added as standard for the first time on the GT3. This innovative technology, shared with the 918 Spyder and 911 Turbo, steered the rear wheels in opposite direction of the front wheels at speeds of up to 31 mph to increase agility and reduce the turning circle. Over 50 mph, the system steered the rear wheels in tandem with the front wheels to promote stability, for example during a lane change at higher speeds. The size of the cast iron brake rotors grew to 380 mm front and rear, while the optional PCCB system, now in its third generation, featured 410 mm rotors up front and 390 mm rotors at the rear. Despite the significant increase in technology, the latest 911 GT3 still proved to be a lightweight at 3,153 lbs. Equipped with all these enhancements, and clad in a new body that provided a significant increase in downforce compared to the 997-generation models, the 2014 911 GT3 completed a lap of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 25 seconds.

7:12.7 minutes: The lap time of the current 911 GT3 represents roughly 45 seconds of improvement at the ‘Ring compared to the original model. A world of difference. The new 4.0-liter engine develops 500 hp and a healthy 346 lb-ft of torque. A new crankshaft, larger main bearings, thicker connecting rod bearings, plasma-coated cylinder liners as well as a new oiling system that supplies oil directly into the feeder bore of the crankshaft take the durability of the engine to new heights. Like on a racing powertrain, valve train clearance is set at the factory using shims and does not require adjustment. Breathing of the engine is improved thanks to larger ram air ducts on top of the rear decklid cover. Downforce grows 20 percent compared to the previous model to a total of 340 lbs. (155 kg) at the top track speed of 198 mph. This improvement is made possible by a new front fascia featuring lateral air blades, a special front spoiler lip, a new rear underbody diffusor, and a prominent rear wing which sits 0.8 inches higher than before. Special lightweight touches include front and rear fasciae made of lightweight polyurethane and a rear decklid made of carbon fiber composite, including the hinges. Catering to the purists, a six-speed manual transmission was re-introduced as a no-cost alternative to the standard seven speed PDK. This is also the exclusive transmission for the 911 GT3 with Touring Package, which was first shown in September 2017. The Touring Package retains the engine and suspension from the 911 GT3, but deletes the fixed rear wing in favor of an automatically controlled rear spoiler from the 911 Carrera Cabriolet models, fitted with an additional Gurney flap. Chrome accents and cloth seat inserts replacing the Alcantara upholstery lend a more subdued touch to the model.

More capable and diverse than ever before, the 911 GT3 represents the beating heart of Porsche’s commitment to building pure, uncompromised sports cars.


Thursday 1 August 2019

Oliver Winterbottom – July News Bulletin

3 July I receive a somewhat belated message, regarding my talk on 1 May:

“Hello, Oliver,
Gosh, how long ago was Tatenhill? Whenever it was, a big ‘thank you’ for letting me know! A great evening and, as they say, “a good time was had by all”. Everyone on ‘my’ table thoroughly enjoyed the talk. All were envious of such a career, and all thought the speaker to be MOST entertaining.
I think it a mark of the success of the event that the question and answer session –so often the graveyard of a talk– was animated, free-ranging and could have continued well into the late evening.”

Tatenhill was 1 May but no worry, it was great to get positive feed back on the evening. One does these talks but has no idea how they come across, so many thanks Mike Wheildon.

4 July It’s 10:00 am and the postman brings me a delivery, which is Matthew Vale’s superb new book Lotus Europa. He has graciously presented it to me as thanks for co-operation when he researched it. Published by Veloce it will be available from 12 July. It is a beautifully produced, comprehensive work, on a car which has happy memories for me.

Today I have also received a copy of the photograph of myself with the Lotus Elite mentioned on 12 June, concerning the modified bumpers with fog lights. Sadly, it has not brought any memory of this car back to me. Many thanks Jane of Club Lotus for sending this to me.

Myself with the Lotus Elite in June 2004 at Brightwell Baldwin

5 July Following a blanket email to Club Lotus Cambridge, I receive a prompt reply from Alaska! It’s been a long time since I was there. I suggested that I am happy to give the club a talk whenever / wherever it suits them. I will await their next move.

5 July I happily hear that the motoring journal we had complained to, have apologised, taken action and will publish a redeeming piece shortly.

6 July I hear the Mamba boat (below) is due to get a big clean up after so many years of neglect. Good news!

7 July I am delighted to find that Matthew Vale has shown my book as a good source of history for the Lotus Europa in his book Lotus Europa. Thank you, Matthew. Two pages further on, and Veloce give my book a full page advertisement – thank you, Veloce!

8 July Amazon UK have four books in stock, and as they had eight on 31 May, I can assume (hope) they have sold four since then. Delighted to receive another 5 star review (from Doug Mellor, many thanks). I see their selling price has dropped to £24.37.

11 July A date is set to visit the JCL Mamba motor yacht; Wednesday 31 July. Final details are still being decided but this is a landmark event, for me.

12 July I am contacted asking if the James Martin who had good words about my book was the TV chef and car enthusiast. After some research, I find it is not. However the positive review given by someone with the same name is still greatly valued – thank you James.

13 July Richard Woollaston contacts me and other Lotus Cars team members from the 1970s, suggesting we attend Malcolm Ricketts' Workshop Open Day. I respond that we could support this charity event, with some Lotus Elites on display to help celebrate its 45th year. I am happy to participate and do a question & answer session if required.

16 July The Lotus Elija is shown. Fantastic!

16 - 17 July Attend some of the tyre testing for the British Touring Cars at Snetterton race circuit. The whole facility is sparkling fresh, every blade of grass everywhere is trimmed and cut, a credit to the owners and Norfolk.

The immaculate race circuit at Snetterton

19 July I read in the press that 27% of the 787 car occupants who died in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2017, were not wearing a seat belt. I am truly saddened that so many people could ignore all the efforts of the people who have worked so hard, to reduce death and injury in the transport industries.

20 July I receive a copy of the new Lotus employee magazine, which has a feature on me on the back page. It concerned my views on Colin Chapman’s philosophies, and kindly mentions my book. “I retired in 2009 and recently put together a talk entitled Lotus DNA – Views on Colin Chapman’s Philosophies, to promote my book A Life in Car Design; Jaguar, Lotus, TVR (Veloce).”

The magazine is superbly produced by Foxtrot Papa in London and gave me a tremendous feeling for a very positive future of the company under Geely ownership.

25 July Club Lotus News (July 2019) arrives and carries my story, 3 Days in May, about my talk to PJS Sports Cars and the Donington Historic race meeting. I seem to appear briefly in a number of other articles, which is most flattering!

26 July I visit the Silverstone Classic with my sister, in her Mini. When I was working at Jaguar in the late 1960s, Sir William Lyons used to ask for ideas he could present to the B L management. I drew a design which became the Mini Clubman. The final design was done by British Leyland stylist Roy Haynes.

I also submitted a coupe built on the longer wheelbase Mini Van, which never happened.

I visited the Club Lotus display area, and admired the gold Lotus Elite which was brought by Peter Russell from Cambridge. Sadly, I did not find the man himself, as I had been in contact with people from Club Lotus Cambridge regarding a possible talk to the club.

I also spent some time with the Jim Clark Lotus Evora, for which I have a raffle ticket. It was very fitting that the fund raising for the Museum to him in Duns, Scotland, should be alongside the Club Lotus site.

Some of the Club Lotus gathering on the Friday of the Silverstone Classic

31 July There was going to be a significant event on this day reuniting me with a long past project. However it has had to be postponed for a week, so you will have to wait until next month for details.

Thursday 4 July 2019

Oliver Winterbottom - June News Bulletin

2  June Hockwold Country Fair, Norfolk

Two Lotus displayed right by the entrance to the Hockwold Country Fair
 I introduced myself and suggested that the owners contact Richard Woollaston, regarding the Lotus Elite’s 45th anniversary. I greatly enjoyed seeing them.

4 June I depart Norfolk for my annual visit to the historic races at Dijon Prenois, France. I have been to the Grand Prix Age de L’Or six times now and make it a pleasant holiday. I love France, and the Burgundy area is a good as any!

8 June I meet up with Englishman Tony Poll, owner of a Lotus Excel, which he put on display at the Dijon track. It is part of the huge presentation by the French Light Car Club which has taken over the traditional Club Lotus France site. I've met Tony before but unfortunately could not get to speak to the club leader, Thiebolt Venisse, who bought my book here two years ago.

11 June Had dinner with John Elwin, Michelle and Pat Singleton at Le Manoir de Gavrelle, near Arras. John was a buyer at Lotus when we did the Lotus Elite and went on to work with Team Lotus. He now lives in France.

12 June I return home from France and find a very full email box. Among them was a message forwarded by Jane Woollestone at Club Lotus:

“Hi Jane,
I have been reading Oliver Winterbottom’s excellent book, A Life in Car Design, and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in the design story behind the iconic cars he worked on. This is particularly interesting for me as I have a slightly odd Elite S1.
By an amazing coincidence, Mr Winterbottom has actually met my car, albeit it back in June 2004 in Brightwell Baldwin, some eight years before I bought it. I attach a photo of him with the car which you published in Issue 4 of CLN in 2004. I was wondering if Mr Winterbottom might know whether Lotus ever made bumpers for the Elite with recesses moulded in them for front and rear fog lights? Although you can see an S2 wrap-around spoiler in the photo, the car is actually an S1 that has been tweaked.”

Sadly I do not remember seeing this in 2004 (old age creeping in), and I was at TVR in the late 1970s when this work was done, so unfortunately I cannot add to the story. For further information - Join Club Lotus!

12 June I also had a nice message from Tony Poll telling me he returned to home safely in his Lotus Excel despite having frightful weather in England.

27 June I get a message sent on by Paul Shipley (see 1 May 2019) sent by a gentleman who has just bought a JCL Mamba. I have been in touch and hope to visit her in the near future. It’s wonderful to hear of an old project so long afterwards, and I am amazed at her condition; especially having been neglected for over 10 years. For me, it was a project I left in 1977 – 42 years ago. The owner says “Just an amazing looking boat – I have never seen anything like it. What's most impressive is how well the design holds up next to modern cruisers.” Well, that’s nice to hear!

The original prototype Mamba on Breydon Water, Norfolk 1977

This poor lady looks a little worse for wear in 2019
28 June Following the correspondence on the JCL Mamba (above) I am delighted to see that the ‘Google images’ for the Mamba display the A Life in Car Design book and many of the pictures from it. Although the book is directed at readers with an automotive interest, it’s great that it has also created some nautical interest!

30 June Five of us retired ex-Lotus senior management, write to a motoring journal criticising certain comments that had been written, as they have no foundation in reality. Sometimes today, writers do not research the prevailing situations in politics, finance or indeed engineering history before putting keyboard to paper.

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.