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!

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