Lotus Originals

This article provides brief details of the Lotus retail outlet based in London, Picadilly.All our subscribers, Lotus enthusiasts and tourists are encouraged to visit.

The shop has a pole position located right on Piccadilly Circus next to the underground station.

The postal address is:-

52 Regent Street, London, W1B 5DX.

This attractive shop retails the following relating to Lotus:-

  • Luxury apparel
  • Luggage
  • Gifts
  • Toys and
  • Limited edition collectables

When the editor recently visited two cars were also on display and the public were allowed to sit in these and to take photographs. The shop was animated and families found plenty of interest.

The staff were polite and enthusiastic.

The editor noted complementary to the list above:-

  • Clothes sportswear and Lotus FI team logo items
  • A range of scale models and an extremely impressive large scale model in black and gold livery of FI car
  • Scalextric racing sets
  • A range of accessories
  • Models of the helmets worn by famous Lotus drivers

There were items for all taste, gender and budget.

The shop has been in existence since 2010.It has a prime position, so easily accessible to all. The shop has double aspect layout and disability access is available.

The editors believe it’s an attractive proposition in the right location. Lotus enthusiasts have the opportunity in London to connect with Lotus history and sites not least Carnaby Street and the old Lotus factory site at Hornsey.

Exhibitions, Education and Economics

Should a museum be established devoted to Lotus or Colin Chapman the editors believe that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our suggested outline 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.

The editors would like to think that commercial merchandising might be optimized across both outlets and that complementary stock could be sold.

The editors commend this means of promoting the brand. They feel that the shop has all the ingredients to succeed .It is ideally placed and for all those who have cultural interests will find London’s galleries and museums close at hand.

The editors understand a Historic Car show is being planned for Alexandra Palace later in the year. We suggest to all those visiting to take advantage of the proximity of Hornsey and Lotus Originals, Piccadilly.

See: www.lotuscars.com or Lotus Piccadilly

Colin Chapman: “Someone has to draw the line………..”

“Utility is one of the principal sources of beauty……….the fitness of any system or machine to produce the end for which it was intended , bestows  a certain propriety and beauty  upon the whole, and renders the very thought and contemplation of it agreeable”

Adam Smith, 1759

“Are not the excellence, beauty and correctness of every manufactured article or living thing, creative, or action to be tried only by a reference to the purpose intended in their construction or in their natural constitution?

Plato: “The Republic”

When you wish to produce a result by means of an instrument do not allow our self to complicate it by introducing many subsidiary parts but follow the briefest way possible”

Leonardo de Vinci

Introduction: An out line

The editors consider this one of the most important analytical articles we have written about Colin Chapman.

We consider his conceptual powers and the ability to articulate them through meaningful drawings gets to the core of the man and the possible source of his design methodology, aesthetic sensitivity and achievements as an Industrial Designer.

Colin Chapman might be considered something of a polymath.

The skills that justify this are:-

  • Designer
  • Innovator/inventor/patent holder
  • Entrepreneur
  • Educator /developer in his capacity of employer
  • FI race team owner/strategist designer and multiple World Championship manufacturer

What made Chapman special is that these skills and attributes were constantly interactive and feed each other.

Great attention has been given to Chapman as the Formula 1 Team owner/ strategist and race car engineer designer but it’s often overlooked that fundamental to his ability to design was the ability to draw.

This is often taken for granted but drawing is an extremely important skill and easily underestimated.

In the editors estimation Chapman had considerable conceptual powers that were given fullest expression because he could articulate them in drawings.

Tony Rudd commented of Stan Hope of BRM who used to say: “If you can draw it I can make it; it was with difficulty sometimes.”

Chapman could draw components that could be made or he could instruct a draughtsman with a sketch. When briefing his engineers or indicating lines of research he could provide diagrams and conceptual sketches often annotated with outline measurements.

The evidence of the iconic designs produced by Chapman and in conjunction with many engineers at Lotus are that Chapman could conceive, draw, and work out details on paper.  Most significantly the function had to be delivered with the highest regard for an engineering aesthetic; the means by which function /fitness for purpose is lifted above mere utility and elevated into simple elegance and a means by which it resonated with the viewer.

In this article we will:-

  • Explore and enumerate Chapmans raw drawing ability
  • Consider the importance of this skill and its contribution to his achievements
  • Contest that drawing ability and aesthetic sensitivity informed Chapman’s designs and the creation of some of the world’s most iconic automobiles
  • Examine the basics of technical /engineering drawing
  • Bench mark Chapman and some automobile design peers
  • Provide some learning opportunities and recommend drawing as an analytical device for our subscribers

 Line Up: Automobile Design /Draughtsman Engineers of Distinction

The list includes some of the most notable design engineers; we are not looking at stylists.

  • Ettore Bugatti
  • Lancia
  • Porsche
  • Dante Gioacosa
  • Gabriel Voisin
  • Alec Issigonis
  • Frank Costin

Of these Bugatti and Issigionis have left a body of work and drawings that can be examined with reasonable ease and a variety of quality books and extensive archive. Both were holistic in the way and their drawings in three dimensions capture the interaction of components and the articulation of form and function.

Colin Chapman easily stands alongside these may and possibly excel in certain respects.

The editors strongly recommend reference to their drawings for benchmarking. The work “The Designers” by Setright is a particularly good reference source.

Subscribers might like to see A&R article our comparison of Chapman, Bugatti and Lyons. [Motoring Icons of the 20th C]

Drawing and Engineering Drawing [from the net]

“An engineering drawing, a type of technical drawing, is used to fully and clearly define requirements for engineered items.

Engineering drawing (the activity) produces engineering drawings (the documents). More than merely the drawing of pictures, it is also a language—a graphical language that communicates ideas and information from one mind to another.[1] Most especially, it communicates all needed information from the engineer who designed a part to the workers who will make it.

Relationship to artistic drawing

Engineering drawing and artistic drawing are both types of drawing, and either may be called simply “drawing” when the context is implicit. Engineering drawing shares some traits with artistic drawing in that both create pictures. But whereas the purpose of artistic drawing is to convey emotion or artistic sensitivity in some way (subjective impressions), the purpose of engineering drawing is to convey information (objective facts). One of the corollaries that follows from this fact is that, whereas anyone can appreciate artistic drawing (even if each viewer has his own unique appreciation), engineering drawing requires some training to understand (like any language); but there is also a high degree of objective commonality in the interpretation (also like other languages). In fact, engineering drawing has evolved into a language that is more precise and unambiguous than natural languages; in this sense it is closer to a programming language in its communication ability. Engineering drawing uses an extensive set of conventions to convey information very precisely, with very little ambiguity”

The Engineers Alphabet

From the above remarks we note engineering drawing is like precise language .The engineer’s alphabet reinforces this and provides example and comparison.

This concept is brought home in “Brunel: In love with the impossible”. [See also A&R article devoted to Brunel.]

Chapman and Brunel had much in common not least they could complete engineering drawings and sketches.

In the chapter entitled “Brunel and the Art of Engineering Drawing” the authors explain how Brunel “developed such extraordinary acute powers of observation”. They go on to explain the value of drawing to Brunel and engineers. They suggest draughtsmanship is a discipline that is:-

“Descriptive, geometrically accurate, drawings are among the engineers tools ….”Of prediction and analysis”……….that greatly expands the capacity for sustained innovation within design, construction and manufacture”

The practicality and desirability of draughtsmanship is reinforced by Keith Duckworth:-

“It costs you very little to scrub out drawings on paper and to start again. As soon as you have things in the metal, and you have to try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, life becomes expensive ………….and development is only necessary to rectify the ignorance of designers”

Childhood Talent: Not toeing the line

Crombac includes an extract from Colin chapman’s school report when he was 10 years 2 months old. [July 1938]

In Drawing and Handiwork he gained 85% with the teachers comment that “shows great keenness and should do well judging by present ability”

See drawing by Colin when he was five and half years old published in Haskell “Colin Chapman: Lotus Engineering”

“The drawing shows a clear understanding of the physical objects involved and the method to be used. A good idea of scale is present and –most revealing –the whole is in the form of a flow chart.

It is interesting to note that this [allowing for the differences due to young age] was exactly the type of information Chapman was to use to convey his ideas to his designers for many years and over many different products. Sufficient information is given to convey the ideas without wasting effort on detail which the intended user is assumed to have the skill to be able to supply”

Colin Chapman from quite early on was showing an interest in mechanics or perhaps the assembly and logistics / management of concepts and projects. He did well in the sciences. The various biographies also explain he could be distracted.

By the time he entered university he was a reasonably competent draughtsman capable of producing an outline assembly and body drawing for a car in the conventional three angles.

Colin Chapman: His line of business

Possible the quotation that most encapsulates Chapman /Lotus design methodology is given in Definitions of Philosophy of Lotus Engineering Policy. [1975]This was developed by Rudd and Chapman. [It is quoted in Ludvigsen.]:-

“The most elegant and effective and traditional Lotus solution is the one with the least parts effectively deployed”

In his introduction Peter Windsor refers to Colin Chapman the designer as:-

“At Lotus Colin Chapman epitomised the craftsman genius”

Peter Warr is quoted as saying:-

“One day Colin was looking at the back of the car when he suddenly said “why don’t we make the wing mounting serve a dual purpose? We looked puzzled and then a few minutes later he produced a sketch .This sort of thing can go on and on”



“Chunky used to invite me to his home in Cringleford for dinner one night a week. We discussed the new FI car the type 72, with variable rate torsion bar suspension, which he was drawing on his board at home”

Relating to design outside the motor car, Colin designed aspects of power boats:

“The flybridge steering position beautifully sleek, styled by Chunky himself”


On Chapman he commented:-

“He had an exceptionally strong sense of the rightness of design which he sought with passionate logic…………….history has proved him to be one of the most intelligent purposeful and creative designers of high performance cars………”

One of the most useful works on Chapman is that of Carl Ludvisgen because he features the access to Colin Chapman archive held by classic Team Lotus. Carl has included many of the drawings made by Colin’s hand. He sums up with a caption relating to hub illustration:-

“Colin Chapman’s artistry in the conception of refined suspension components had few rivals. These were his late 1970’s ideas for hub designs”

Carl’s book is an excellent reference because it gives further critical examples and historical precedents.

Chapman Drawings and Sources: In line

  • Notes and sketches for Mk.X from his note book quoted in Crombac

Quoted in Ludvigsen

  • Lotus 30 family range proposal dated 3/10/1963
  • Transaxle detail for Mk.12? dated c 1957
  • Schematic layout of Indianapolis single seater dating from mid-1960.
  • “             “ F1              “        “         “ c1977
  • Hub designs dating from late 1970’s
  • Sketch of “Optimal basic structure”
  • Future specification of F1 car c 1975
  • Venturi and other dimensioned sketches for Type 80
  • Lotus Mk.III and IV ‘ drawings published in “Lotus: The Early Years by late Peter Ross
  • The Lotus Seven .Tipler reproduces a drawing of the Lotus Seven “said to have been drawn by Colin Chapman himself with various amendments dating from 26th September 1957 to 30th April 1959.” The editors quote Coulter [relating to the Seven]  for convenience and brevity:-

“By the spring of 1957 Colin Chapman had a last found the time to turn his thoughts to the new car, maybe even drawing a little inspiration for it from the special that Lewis had built.

Working at his drawing board at home in Barnet, Chapman quickly put his thoughts down on paper and came up with the overall plan for the Lotus Seven.”

Coulter quotes Chapman:-

“there wasn’t much to it really .It was all pretty well known stuff the sort of thing you could dash of in a weekend”

This was not understatement for impact it was reality. First it alluded to Chapman’s ability to draw and second his thorough understanding of relationships. Components and structural requirements.

Laying it on the line: Guidance to Draughtsmen-Outline and sometimes firing line

It’s reputed that Chapman would guide a draughtsman through the objectives and constraints until the point it could be reduced no further and then Chapman would exclaim “You see it designs itself”

The essence of design here is similar to the functionalism of the modernist architects and the Bauhaus school where design is objective and not the ego of the designer being expressed.

Setright expressed it when he said:-

“The Lotus is as much a machine for driving as the house by Corbusier is a machine for living”

Setright also attributed to Chapman that be possessed “An obsessive and almost malign objectivity”

However Chapman did require draughtsmen produce work within the Lotus cannon. Those that did not could be subject to severe criticism although it’s been proved on occasions they were right and hew wrong.

Lineage: 50 Land mark Designs.

In “How to Design like a Pro” the author includes a section of designs considered land mark and he prefaces his selection with:-

“we focus on those designs which launched new shapes onto our roads, those designs which have changed the way we use our cars or think about them, and those fresh design ideas so powerful they changed the way the whole automobile industry thought…………our chosen fifty have in common is that they stand still further out from the crowd as the true landmarks through which the evolution of the automobile can be traced”

The Lotus inclusion in the list comprises:-

  • Lotus Elite, 1957
  • Lotus Seven ,1957

Of the Elite [Lotus 14] Setright was to observe:-

“Breath taking in its beauty, heart breaking in its fallibility, utterly right in its conception and unutterably wrong in its execution, the Lotus Elite was an aesthetic triumph and a commercial failure”

The editors might also suggest the inclusion of The F1 designs to include:-

  • Lotus 25
  • Lotus 49
  • Lotus 72

Education, Exhibitions and Economics: On line

The editors believe that in a museum context that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our suggested Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we suggest 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 the editors feel there are a number of potential exhibition themes. Some titles include:- 

“The Line of Least Resistance”

Definition from the net:-

“The path of least resistance is the physical or metaphorical pathway that provides the least resistance to forward motion by a given object or entity, among a set of alternative paths. The concept is often used to describe why an object or entity takes a given path.”

“Between the Lines”

“Drawing on Experience”

“Drawing a Conclusion”

All of which have the potential to interpret Chapman as the designer-draughtsman and provide direct and immediate learning/ educational opportunities. It would be possible to use much of the material set out in this article.

Chapman as we know has left many drawings which can be supported by displays of how individual parts and made and their contribution to the whole automobile. In fact it’s possible to show every stage of assembly from conceptual design guidance through drawing to manufacture and race/road use.

His drawings get be set against others mentioned in order to help make comparison and evaluation. His drawings etc. can be shown against his disciples in order that his inspiration can be seen influencing design evolution.

Chapman has inspired designers to the present day including Gordon Murray [A&R article in preparation] so it becomes possible to provide a line of continuity which particularly demonstrates his commitment to light weight, high performance efficiency.

Such exhibitions can also demonstrate Chapman’s acknowledgement of other designers like Frank Costin and the remarkable aerodynamic body shapes they used to gain competitive advantage. This might be of great interest and relevance to those interested in sustainability and fuel economy.

Drawing Conclusions and Learning Opportunities

The editor’s drawings are far from perfect but they do serve a purpose. Not least to encourage students to draw but also as assistance towards aesthetic appreciation of design. We are aware that Colin Chapman was a competent draughtsman .Examples of his work are illustrated in “Lotus the Early Years” and “Inside the Innovator”

The editors consider freehand drawing provides some skills and discipline worthy of cultivation in the engineer and designer. These skills are summarized as:-

  • The discipline of observation and recording
  • A means of expression and interpretation, including the ability to articulate and visualize a mental concept into physical object
  • An ability to relate form and function, internal and external relationships etc.
  • An ability to conceptualize and form mental 3D images that can be rendered on paper and transferred to CAD etc.
  • An ability to consider aesthetics and the sculptural quality of an object including shape ,line and colour
  • An ability to use drawing as a problem solving devise, i.e. anticipating and checking in advance of manufacture also to share and examine critically
  • As a vocabulary or short hand form of technical expression that is readily shared with others who might be contributing in manufacture of specialist components
  • A means to explore viabilities and interrelate design with manufacturing realities
  • A ready quick and responsive means of sketch and comparing alternatives

The editors invite our subscribers to experiment with drawing .Although analysis and interpretation is reasonably objective there is considerable scope for personal and subjective interpretation and the editors advocate the role of drawing to develop visual awareness and literacy as an analytical tool potentially as sharp and incisive as the surgeon’s scalpel.

We invite our subscribers to submit their work / drawings as it might have the potential to educate and inspire others whilst also acting as catalyst for further articles from the A&R.

Lotus 20

Figure 1.Editors drawing offered as encouragement to subscribers to attempt sketching and drawing. This drawing is created directly from a period photograph and the editor has attempted to understand and express the quality, colour shape, form and texture of the surfaces of the materials use. Chapman and his designers aspired to an aesthetic and their show cars would resonate with potential customers.

Note the coil spring dampers deliberately not fully drawn in allowing clarity of the drive mechanism

Line out: Conclusion

It is very evident that Colin Chapman was a competent draughtsman; certainly able to represent complex technical subjects and concepts in a manner practical engineer/ craftsmen could translate into reality or be developed by others.

Chapman possessed a rare engineering aesthetic .He was a cultured man of taste and demanded more than utility .Each of his masterpieces like good architecture possesses a well-articulated functional beauty born of his essential functionality and fine proportion .

Chapman recognized the skills of other designers and commissioned them .Where adopted they contributed and extended the Lotus mystique.

It’s a recognized fact that many Lotus cars are considered automobile icons and a recent major museum exhibition confirms this.

The editors contend that Chapman would only permit designs of exceptional functional performance  because of his own highly developed personal aesthetic discipline accompanied by an appreciation of well-proportioned sculptural form. These were thoroughly integrated and structured and the editors see the evidence that his ability to draw sharpened and accentuated this awareness.

Chapman as a gifted Industrial Designer made his mark on paper and in metal. His line lives on and remains an indelible example, inspiration to design engineers and all of those who are moved by functional beauty.

Lotus 7 S2

The editor’s quick sketch of rear end of Lotus Seven. Although there is no evidence that Chapman deliberately made 3D sketches it’s a certainty that this is how he comprehended the Seven and this appearance is a direct result of the body chassis drawings he made. See text above.




Reference: Just a quick line

Brunel: In Love with the Impossible. Bristol Cultural Development Partnership.2006.

ISBN: 0955074207

Brunel’s Britain.Beckett.David & Charles.1980.

ISBN: 0715379739

Art of the Formula 1 Race Car. Stuart Codling. Voyager. [Motorbooks] 2010.

ISBN: 9780760337318

Drawing and Painting Cars.M.Turner

How to Design Cars like a Pro.T.Lewin.Motorbooks .2003.

ISBN: 0760336414

Car& Transportation Design. Design Diffusion.2006

ISSN: 17226546

Tony Rudd. Patrick Stephens.1993

ISBN: 1852604131

Colin Chapman’s: Lotus Engineering.Haskell.Osprey.1993.

ISBN: 1855323761

Colin Chapman.Crombac.Patrick Stephens.1986.

ISBN: 0850597331

Colin Chapman.Ludvigsen.Haynes.2010.

ISBN: 9781844254132

Lotus –The Early Years.Ross.Coterie.

ISBN: 1902351126

Lotus & Caterham Seven.Tipler.Crowood.1995.

The Lotus and Caterham Sevens.Coulter.MRP.1986.

ISBN: 0947981063

ISBN: 1852238585

British Auto Legends: Classics of Style and Design.Zumbrunn & Heseltine.Merrell.2009.

ISBN: 9781858944944

The Designers.LJK Setright.Weidenfeld and Nicholson.1976.

ISBN: 0297770

Rendering with Pen and Ink.Gill.Thames and Hudson.1984

ISBN: 0500680264

Draughtsmanship. Fraser Reekie.Edward Arnold.1969.

ISBN: 0713132175

Manual of Graphic Techniques. Porter and Greenstreet.Butterworth Architectural.1980.

ISBN: 0408500123

Drawing Secrets Revealed; Basics.Parks.Northlight.2014.

ISBN: 9781440334405

Drawing Made Easy.Barber.Arcturus.2013.

ISBN: 97817821210

Sketching Master Class.Rani & Ngah.Page One.2010.

ISBN: 9789812459350

Further reading

  • Basant Agrawal and C M Agrawal (2013). Engineering Drawing. Second Edition, McGraw Hill Education India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.
  • Paige Davis, Karen Renee Juneau (2000). Engineering Drawing
  • David A. Madsen, Karen Schertz, (2001) Engineering Drawing & Design. Delmar Thomson Learning.
  • Cecil Howard Jensen, Jay D. Helsel, Donald D. Voisinet Computer-aided engineering drawing using AutoCAD.
  • Warren Jacob Luzadder (1959). Fundamentals of engineering drawing for technical students and professional.
  • M.A. Parker, F. Pickup (1990) Engineering Drawing with Worked Examples.
  • Colin H. Simmons, Dennis E. Maguire Manual of engineering drawing. Elsevier.
  • Cecil Howard Jensen (2001). Interpreting Engineering Drawings.
  • B. Leighton Wellman (1948). Technical Descriptive Geometry. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
  • Engineering Drawing by N.D. Bhatt

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.