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.