Thursday, 17 January 2019

Oliver Winterbottom's Diary – December

As we move into 2019 proper, we take a look back at Oliver's diary from the end of November to the New Year. This time, we have archives, institutes, Christmas cards … and pub lunches, of course!

26–28 November – Worked on constructing my annual 'newsletter' Christmas card.

30 November – Met up with the son of my late best buddy, who came to historic motor races with me for 40 years. He spends much time in India and now knows the book (A Life in Car Design) exists!

I returned to the Brisley Bell for lunch – yes it’s that good!

1 December – I start going through my archives to get more history on the 1974 Lotus Elite (2019 will be its 45th anniversary). I find a copy of the Eastern Daily Press newspaper dated Saturday 18 October 1975. The headline is that Lotus got £8.5 million orders at the London Motor Show. The Lotus Esprit got a Gold, the Eclat a Gold, and the Elite a Silver medal from IBCAM. The Elite was in the unlimited price class. This meant it competed with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, etc.

The Institute of British Carriage and Automobile Manufacturers (IBCAM) was established in 1881. It merged with the Institute of Body Engineers in 1965 and, in 2004, it merged with the Society of Automobile Engineers, UK.

Coachwork Awards at the British Motor Show were given to vehicles which met very rigorous design, fit and finish of car bodies. Entries were divided into classes dependant on type and vehicle price. In August 1977 I was elected to the Institute of British Carriage and Automobile Manufacturers and was also elected as a Royal Chartered Designer by the MSIAD.  I felt proud all over again!

4 December – Veloce's monthly newsletter On the Grid shows that John Elwin of Estrée-Wamin (France) has won a £50 voucher. John, whom I keep in touch with, was a Buyer at Lotus when we did the Elite in the early 1970s. It seems he won the voucher after purchasing my book! That’s very nearly bribery!

10 December  – Veloce circulate their list of reduced price books; I am pleased to see that mine is not one of them. In case you want to know why – the less the book sells for, the less the author gets. Of course, selling reduced is better than not selling at all.

A planned re-union lunch has had to be postponed 24 hours before due to various medical intrusions. Great pity as would bring ex-Lotus CEO Mike Kimberley, ex-Lotus MD Richard Morley, ex-Lotus Marketing Director (and later Chairman Ford UK) Roger Putnam, ex-Lotus Purchasing Director Martin Long, myself and all choreographed by Mike Hamlin, ex-Lotus aircraft driver. Hopefully, we can try again in the new year.

15 December – Good old Amazon reduced the price again, to £24.37. It seems to have a rollercoaster price system that might confuse purchasers.

16 December – I think I have completed sending my Christmas greetings to all my friends around the world. I use email letter describing my year in lieu of a traditional card. I have sent 98 messages so far! I have had many replies with, sadly, a few with sad news but that’s probably my age.

21 December – Get down to work on a talk to a Lotus club audience on the 'Lotus DNA.'

25 December – My sister gives me a copy of John Bailie’s superb book, Donington Park, The Pioneers. It is incredibly comprehensive and must have taken much effort to garner the information. I am sorry it’s not a Veloce publication but it deserves much praise.

26 December – I visit friends of my sister and meet the host’s brother, who received my book as a Christmas gift last year. He has a beautiful Lotus Esprit circa 1984, that he enjoys: however, he finds the non-power steering rather heavy. This vindicates my adopting power assistance for the S4 model.

31 December – Best wishes to one and all for 2019.

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