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: 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 – 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!