Chapman’s Catalogue: Car Sales Brochures, Advertisements and Promotional Photography for the Lotus Seven. A model history in sales material.
In this series we analyze sales brochures and their impact on potential purchasers. Along the way we examine the social trends of the eras in which the products emerged to see how technology, culture and the individual responded to and shaped product design.
The Seven is iconic and needs little introduction. In this piece we can trace its evolution through sales material from enthusiasts car through the non-conformist / insubordinate to the style conscious and statement grabbing finale version of the Hippies of the late 1960’s early 1970’s.
The Seven was very significant at many levels including
- Its phenomenal performance and David and Goliath prowess
- Its reputation on and off the track
- Its economic importance to Lotus
- As a yardstick of measuring customer sophistication and expectation
- How it was to be “translated” and interpreted to an international audience as a car so steeped in “Britishness”
Subscribers might like to see A&R features:-
- Introductory article on Lotus sales brochures and several categories published to date
- Seven scale model reviews
- Seven an aesthetic /design study
- Lotus chassis design
- Jaguar anniversary article comparing and contrasting Jaguar E Type and Lotus Seven performance
- The Prisoner
- Lotus Seven Series 4:Study in Value Engineering
- Tony Weale’s Lotus Seven Book review
The Lotus Seven Concept and Purpose
The seven was initially conceived primarily as replacement for the Mk.VI which had proved attractive and commercially viable providing a dual purpose road/ competition car primarily for the self-builder. For a more in-depth specification and development history see A&R article Seven Aesthetics.
The Seven provided income and employment for the work force when not engaged on the pure competition cars. Evidence from ex employers inform that it was not the most profitable of lines but it did provide extraordinary reputation and kept the name of Lotus in the forefront of enthusiast’s minds. It contributed significantly to mystique and was reasonably affordable. Subscribers are invited to see A&R on Value engineering: The Seven S4 in order to establish the interface between technology cost, profit and production.
Equally examination of cultural trends will assist in understanding how changes in client base impacted on product. The Seven went through a considerable transition and this possibly mirrors the social and technological revolution that over took Britain in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Types of Lotus Seven Advertising
The editors have identified and hold in the library copies of factory brochures along with copies of magazine adverts. It’s not practical to display all [but can on request] Additional complementary information is available in the reference works mentioned.
The magazine adverts were placed in the motoring press where they would be read by enthusiasts and possible club racer.
The factory brochures although stark as the car were professional .It’s possible they were designed deliberately brief with dramatic colours and imager as a reflection of the product.
We have touched apron the profile of customers in our brief analysis of the Seven concept. The customer probingly changed during the life of the Seven as a function of the changes in British society in the post war era.
Austerity was replaced by degrees of affluence. The youth market increased. During the 1950’s Britain was still manufacturing and high etch industries in aviation, motoring and nuclear energy and machine tools etc. These industries generated employment for engineers and craft skills. Apprenticeships were still available. As Britain went through a transition service industries and welfare occupations expanded and management became better paid and the preferential career path. Those with the skills and inclination to self-build would decrease.Modern saloons many from Japan offered comparative performance accompanied by comfort.
The Seven needed to adapt and it’s interesting to see how Chapman and his colleagues adapted to these changes. We set out some of the responses along with our description of the Seven S4 adverts.
Presentation and the Offer
In the late 1950’s early 1960’s the sales staff at Lotus comprised Robin Read, Ron Richardson, and Peter Warr. They were assisted by Derek Birdsall and Robin provided text. Later Graham Arnold and Mike Warner would make significant contributions [see S4 below]
Derek Jolly and his female companion contributed photography/ concept for several adverts including black and white Series 1 below.
The early Lotus sales brochures were ambitious and attractive, they demonstrate Chapman’s aesthetic sensitivity as applied to marketing as like his overall philosophy it was high quality.
Read states and the editors agree that the Series 1 Seven brochures of the 1958/59 era were “little masterpieces of graphic design”. He provided the text.
Lotus were keen to connect with their racing heritage and many brochures also depicted their racing cars or typically John Bolster cornering a Seven hard on track.
The Seven was presented in a different manner to other Lotus models………….
Non Brochure Advertising
Chapman was adept at using the motoring press along with advertisements numerous articles and road tests were published. Subscribers can see examples of those quoted in or Jaguar anniversary article, other prominent magazines featuring Lotus were:-
- Small Car [see below]
- Motor Sport [ see below]
- Sports Car Illustrated
- Autosport , where John Bolster was an enthusiastic supporter
- Lotus frequently featured in official Road Test Reports by Motor etc.
Brochures Featured [from the A&R library]
- Seven Series 1
- Seven Series 2 –black and white 1 page magazine advertisement
- “The New Exciting Super Seven” factory sales brochure
- “The Ultimate Seven” single page magazine advertisement
- “Count 7” sales coupon and word play ; magazine advertisement
- “Small Car” integrated sales package
Analysis of Sales Brochures for:
- Visual imagery, content and message / marketing of the brochure
- Examine briefly the social/historical context where appropriate:
See Lotus Design Decades.
- Examine the model in context [note technical information invariably contained within brochure itself]
Question does this brochure succeed?
Costs, Sales and Objective Assessment
Robin Read’s book provides excellent insights into marketing strategy within Lotus in the late 1950’s early 1960’s.He also includes some general budgets.
Read was assisted by Derek Birdsall, Ian McLeod, Ron Richardson, Peter Warr.
Subscribers might note that the later S4 was developed with input from Mike Warner and Graham Arnold and details of the commercial sales specification are provided with marketing images below.
Production Numbers from the Lotus Book
S1 1957/60 242
S2 1960/68 1350 approx.
S3 1968/70 350 approx.
S4 1969/72 625
Lotus were exporting to America [Jay Chamberlain Automotive] [see Robin Reads and comments re S4 are pertinent] and to Australia.
It would be good research to examine the quantities of brochures printed and their cost of design and manufacture along with the fees paid for magazine adverts. This would help in conjunction with production numbers help establish the success of the marketing strategy. It would be only partially successful as much of sales is likely as result of reputation and test drives.
Cultural Trends through the 1950’s & 1960’s
These are worthy of study and impact on all car manufacturers. The 1960’s were significant for their consumerism and British designers leading the world particularly in fashion. It was an era when feminism emerged and gender roles showed early signs of blurring. Britain was also world leader in motorsport and Lotus gained World Championship status in FI.
The editors refer subscribers to our Design Decades Series and Carnaby Street and the Ela where a more comprehensive analysis and description of the era is set out. These pieces will enable subscribers to interpret the era in context and understand the forces social, economic, cultural and technological that impacted on design and consumption.
[The bibliographies provided are considered most useful for an in-depth examination]
Series 1 Brochure: “Lotus 7 The Built it Yourself Sports Car
This brochure would have accompanied the launch of the Seven from the late 1950’s.
This dramatic eye catching paper brochure measures 8.5” x 5.5” [220mm x 140mm] is folded and printed on both sides. It features a car registered UOW 429 and 7 TMT. The information immediately calls attention to method of self-building and the avoidance of tax and hence to the value for money to be achieved. Race results are prominent. It also offers and strong visual invitation suggesting the professionalism of the product “This how you buy your Lotus Seven” The brochure continues by explaining the stages of build. An information panel set out the specifications .These include weight at 18 to 896 lbs. The editors find it interesting that the advertises inform that the engine option is easily upgraded offering further value for money and resale value at later date and as budget improves, The brochure also establishes the romantic connection with a young couple posed in the car.
The offer concludes with the invitation to inspect a car at your local Lotus Centre where credit facilities are available.
The Series 2:”The Outstanding Compact Sports Car. Magazine Advertisement
The photographic image for this advert is believed to have been taken by Derek Jolly [Lotus importer to Australia.]The lady may have been his wife/girlfriend.
The editors consider this quite a significant advertisement. The image is 7” x 10” .It is very simple and elegant. The black and white has gradations and possesses a powerful image combined with stark printed message,
The car significantly appears to be driven by a young woman wearing a scarf in the open car. The car is captured in motion approaching but taken from a deliberately low angle accentuating the low build of the Seven but also the enormous canopy of the sky above. This imagery in some respects foreshadows the iconography of the Prisoner early sequence.
The sales pitch is totally minimized placing great emphasis and registration of impact with its suggestivity of driving pleasure and the open road. The female driver also having connotations of modernity, sophistication, safety, freedom and equality.
The editors cannot say if this was intentional but if so a very advanced ambitious and stereotyping mould breaking concept it was. Head on in your face.
Robin Read has an advertisement in his book of the Seven S2 again by Jolly at it too is extremely atmospheric with the car seen in elevation on a beach with a large panorama of sea and sky. Offered at £399 it was without engine and gearbox. The appeal being to the enthusiast self-builder possibly with a damaged or salvaged engine etc.
The Exciting New Lotus Super Seven 1500
This is a factory brochure in an approximate A4 size. Printed in black and white on both sides.
This has always been one of the editor’s favourite brochures. It epitomizes the essence of Chapman design philosophy. The brochure is simple elegant powerful graphic and providing the invitation to performance driving. Ownership accompanied by a statement of extreme uncompromised Spartan functionalism.
The Super Seven is photographed from the rear roof down providing the ease of entry and immediacy of escape. The photograph captures the essence of the Seven with its minimalism slightly set off with the least brightwork.The minimalism speaks volumes of this being a race car equipped with least possible features to make it road legal.
The Super Seven is posed to accentuate its low proportions and sporting low center of gravity, ground clearance etc. It offers an attractive package and the price of £585 chimes with an affordability [but it ought to be noted this is in kit form and our price relativity articles will indicate this was not cheap in period]
The reverse is typed statement without additional photographs. It informs of the specification, prices and optional extras.
The editors feel is was superb piece of cost effective advertising as stark and purposeful as the machine itself.
The Ultimate Lotus Seven: TNG 7G
This simple single page magazine advert in black and white was direct and forceful. Stark and sparse and functional as the Seven itself. Note the joint marketing with reference to Caterham Cars and Lotus.
The car featured was the Holbay tuned 1600 version. It’s believed that this was approximately £300 more. It appeared on the Lotus stand at the 1969 Earls court Motor Show, it’s believed it was painted red.
The A&R does not have any brochures of the Series 3 but these did exist and the Lotus book /Collectables show several examples.
This small advert appeared In Motor Sport in 1970.It was at a time when the kit car was really in decline and there was severe competition from performance salons turnkey.
This catchy small coupon advert worked on word play successfully and was reinforced with the 0-100mph in 24 hours.
This magazine was launched in 1962 as Small Car and Mini Owner incorporating Sporting Driver. It was published by Prism and had a reputation for innovation including a feminist perspective .It also used top level journalists such as LJK Setright.
The editor was George Bishop along with women’s editor Kay Christansen.Themagazine had a female focus as noted [significant for the era] and had a regular feature devoted to women in motorsport.
The August 1963 edition contained a strong representation and emphasis on the Lotus Seven:-
- Bold strong front cover photograph below the mast head of the infamous factory demonstrator 8843 AR
- 3 page article on the car
- 1 page factory advertisement cross referencing with brochure detailed above “Exciting New ………£585”
The Front Cover Imagery
The magazine promotes this issue with a bold startling attention grabbing head-on image of the Lotus Seven in close up. The view comprises a three quarter front view .It really works and complements the mast head. The photograph possibly taken with a telephoto lense captures the scarlet demonstrator accelerating towards the viewer with its Lucas headlamps prominent. The driver is possibly the heavily mustached magazine editor?
The image makes very clear the infamous demonstrator registration and the enamel Lotus badge prominent forward position on the bonnet.
This image alone is likely to have sold the issue .It also implies the content.
The Main Article
This was written with a combination of jokes, irreverence and realism. They pulled no punches and were not impressed with build quality and reliability of the car provided for test.However they agreed the car provided considerably safety and the main ford mechanical components were practical and serviceable, they observed:
“The glass fibre wings flap about, the wheels graunch on the underside in hard cornering , the ride is hard , the thing is crude and unrefined ,So is moonshine brother , but it’s got a hell of a kick.”
A brief specification box was included with details of performance, fuel economy, weight etc.
Small Car provided a mixture of black and white plus colour images static and action shots.
Road testers are generally honest and objective. They have few allusions and although critical of aspects of the Seven warm to its charm and character and appreciate it will appeal to enthusiasts [see selection of reports in A&R article Jaguar anniversary]
The Seven is bought for its performance / driving experience, its dual use .its aesthetic and the self-image the owner wishes to project of themselves.
The Factory Advertisement contained within
This comprises a similar photograph used on the front cover. The demonstrator accelerates towards the vewer.The Lucas headlamps and Lotus badge prominent.
The photograph fills half the page approximately. Below in strong contrasting and with headline grabbing font is the strap line price of £585 [kit] elsewhere in this article we had noted the Seven was sold for even lower price when offered less engine and gearbox.
Seven Torque: The Seven Series 4
The Seven Series 4 was the last of the Lotus Seven Series. It’s understood that the last model left Hethel in late 1972.Although crititsed by traditionalists the S4 sold reasonably well and its possible approximately 600 units were retailed.
Two the Lotus staff involved in its development and marketing were Mike Warner and Graham Arnold [Sales Manager].He had joined Lotus in 1960. It’s probable that Warner saw an interacting matrix comprising:
- A defined market /customer profile
- Production costs
- Volume at which costs could be held
- Marketing strategy that would balance the equation of customer base/ acceptable price / competition against production costs volume
After an exercise in value engineering [examining accountancy procedures, overheads, and engineering achieved cost saving reductions] it was thought viable to slellthe S4 at greater profit and in larger numbers.C 1971 the S4 was retailing at approximately £1,000 in the UK but significantly the equivalent of £2,000 in the USA. [Export to the US was hampered by the transport costs, building /assembly on arrival and local taxes conspired against it]
Probably the marketing staff understood the era and British predominance and fashion through the 1960’s [see A&R “Carnaby Street and Design Decades 1960’s] They were probably also aware of the competition, the emergence of high performance, high quality reliable Japanese saloon imports and a younger audience that demanded more .However the Seven carried powerful connotations and it was hoped to exploit these to a wider audience.
Warner elected to market the S4 against a background of his appreciation of a shifting clientele now more likely to be fashion conscious e.g. London trend setters, designers and pop stars/ film stars and celebrities. To meet this clientele the S4 was offering a combination of traditionalism [continuity] with comfort and weather protection .The commercial belief within the industry being that of the nursery slope and that graduated model range retained customer loyalty and offered part exchange opportunities to upgrade when family commitments and income allowed.
The audience hat Warner identified is reflected in the brochure with its combination of Hippy sophistication and well heeled.
A complimentary advertisement was captioned “Lotus Motoring Starts Here” both contained the young female companion in mini skirt and the implication was the possession of style.
The Proposed CCM&EC
The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.
For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.
In particular it’s proposed to retail sales brochures and memorabilia derived from them including posters, cards, calendars, postcards. The prosed museum has the potential to hold originals in archive, buy, sell and exchange brochures and undertake exhibitions that explore marketing of Chapman derived products.
The design of brochures also has a strong educational content and this will be exploited with direct and indirect learning opportunities and competitions.
As we have noted sales brochures are a function of communication and marketing. As long as products and services are manufactured to some extend there remains a requirement to bring these to a targeted audience.
The design and presentation of sales materials is a dynamic subject .It requires understanding of psychology, the brand, the product, the customer and the prevailing culture. To some extent it also requires an appreciation of rivals. Brochures and other sales materials generate income but also have a cost. When commissioned these need to be balanced and the selection of consultants and the ability to grasp subtle sometimes sublime messages is an art.
Much of Chapman’s design mantra is technological but his racing programme would not have been possible without selling road cars and consultancy. Brochures played an important role .Therefore this exercise is particularly relevant and has educational overlaps for the creative and marketing professionals. Between the manufacturer, marketing professionals and customer are dynamic interfaces.
The Lotus Collectables Book.W.Taylor.Coterie.2000.
The Lotus and Caterham Seven.Coulter.MRP.1986
Colin Chapman’s Lotus. Robin Read.Foulis.1989.
Vintage Ad Gallery
Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.
*Items in italics non A&R library books.