Colin Chapman Museum and Education Centre Newsletter May 2012
Newsletter – Number 36
Lotus photo’s that have been donated.
Museums around the world you may have not heard of: The National Museum for Historoc Vehicles (Luxembourg)
Questions from our readers
Chapman, Costin and the Vanwall
Lotus books: one for the library
Lotus interest on YouTube
All previous articles relating to these are held on the website.
1. Lotus photos that have been donated
Earlier this year we had an email from the USA asking if we were interested in a donation of a number of photos taken in the 1960’s.
The photos were taken by a Mr Bill Uylate in 1960 at Glenwood Motors and the Fox-Riverside Theater at 7th and Market ,Riverside California. Mr Ulyate has since passed on however his son, Ed, has kindly donated these to be be shared with our readers.
There are 20 in total and we have selected five to start, with more to come.
2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of: National Museum for Historic Vehicles (Luxembourg)
The National Museum for Historical Vehicles is unique in Luxembourg. It shows the history of automobiles and the motorised transport in general, from the end of the nineteenth century. The former Jean Wagner car factory, which holds the collection, is a predestinated location for the museum, due to its architectural and technical heritage that dates back to the beginning of Luxembourg’s automobile history. In addition to the exposition, you can also find archives, a specialised shop, a cafeteria and an equipped conference room. On request, groups and school classes are shown around by specialized staff.
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM
20-22, rue de Stavelot
Phone: +352 26 80 04 68
49° 52′ 5.3976″ N, 6° 9′ 31.1652″ E
20-22, rue de Stavelot
Phone: +352 26 80 04 68
Fax: +352 26 80 06 56
49° 52′ 5.3976″ N, 6° 9′ 31.1652″ E
3. Questions from our readers
I’m trying to find out the original registration of Colin’s personal 1969 gold Cortina Lotus. I gather it was bought (at a Lotus auction?) by Jamie Kitman and shipped to the US and is this car –
which appeared in the recent Pan-Am TV series
Can you help, and do you know of any special features the car had?
4. Lotus Cortina
The LOTUS Cortina’s [Type 28] with reference to Fords Significant Involvement and Contribution with Lotus and others.
The editors consider some of the “collaborative or developed” cars have tended to receive less attention than those considered ‘purebred’ Lotus.
This is both unfortunate and unwise and does not recognise:
- Their engineering success
- Their commercial success and availability to wider audience than specialist sports car market.
- The enhancement and extension of the Lotus reputation in eyes of the public
- Their economic contribution to Lotus and hence directly to the perceived “purebred” cars.
- The pragmatic and conceptual/ strategic vision conducted by Chapman to deliver income and generate publicity. [With the possible ability to anticipate and extrapolate futures?]
- The additional experience that could be mutated from the development [i.e. acquired at others expense]
- Continuing to the present day the contracting and consulting role that contributes to viability.
- Dealership network opportunities.
- More symbiotic links developed through trust, respect and success.
- Major manufacturers; particularly Ford’s contribution to motor sport.
- That creative talent has much to gain through piggyback and borrowing; not least when little capital to innovation is employed as in start- up. We list many of those successful specialists below.
In this article we will look specifically at Ford and the Ford-Lotus Cortina.However in future articles we will continue this train of thought and analyse the Sunbeam Lotus [Type 81], Vauxhall and the Lotus Carlton Omega [Type 104]
The editors are proud to include references of reputable and objective road tests in period.
Once again this article was the happy coincidence when archive was acquired simultaneously creating a critical mass of data.
Ford /Lotus Symbiosis and Lotus Models that used Ford Engine.
The significance of the link up between Lotus and Ford cannot be understated or misunderstood. It was very significant.
Ford were a multinational in the 1960’s with a manufacturing base in Britain. [Dagenham] They built and sold millions of cars internationally based on a reputation of economic rugged reliability. They were not going to throw this corporate brand reputation away.
They may have desired to enhance it but certainly not squander it. Ford might have selected another specialist manufacturer [e.g. later Lola] but at this time Lotus were rapidly moving towards and had the potential for dominance. The trust and confidence they must have had in Colin Chapman cannot be underestimated particularly considering the clash of corporate culture, size, market share, reputation and ideology. Lotus had been in existence for just over a decade they did not have significant capital. A failure to “deliver” to Ford might have bankrupted them [depending on contractual details – see requirement for detailed research] and also possible provided irreversible damage to reputation. The fact the Colin Chapman / Lotus and its engineers could demonstrate capacity and multiple level competition success would provide the foundations for one of the most significant partnerships in motor racing history.
The definition of symbiosis relates to the relationship between two organisms living in close. ……Usually mutually beneficial association..etc. This is easily understood. In reality its more complex and when economics is involved with associated risk takes on greater implications. Symbiosis under these conditions implies or requires equality and guarantees. If we can measure the economic might of Ford and measure the goodwill the brand commanded we could begin to extrapolate the confidence they had in Colin Chapman.
The A&R conduct is not a passive recording of technical data. It exists to objectively analyse the true capability of Chapman and Lotus. If this to be fully understood it also needs to disseminate the powerful economic and strategic leadership pursued. The Lotus Cortina was just one of many. Engineering talent alone is not sufficient to create success. Neither pure business acumen nor entrepreneurship will deliver revered and iconic products. The blend of the two is quite exceptional and worthy of extended analysis.
See attached Spread sheet and also A&R article Lotus 30/40.
1962.Lotus Elan with Lotus Ford Twin Cam
1962.Type 28,Lotus Cortina with Lotus ford Twin Cam
1963.Lotuts Type 27 with Ford Cosworth engine
1963.Lotus Type 29 Indianapolis with Ford V8 engine
1964.Lotus Type 30 Group 7 with ford V8 engine
1965.Lotus Type 38 Indianapolis with Ford V8engine
1966-68 Ford GT40
1967.Lotus Type 49 Formula I with Ford Cosworth DFV
1967.Lotus Type 51 Formula Ford with Ford Cortina GT engine
1969.Lotus Type 60 Seven Series 4 with Ford Cortina engine
1971.Lotus Type 74 Europa Twin –Cam with Lotus – Ford Twin Cam engine
1970-74 Escort RS1600
1970-74 Escort Mexico
The Lotus Cortnia Mk.1 [Introduction]
Lotus had used with great success Ford mechanical parts from the earliest trials cars through the Mk.VI, the Eleven and the Seven. [See A&R articles]. Chapman in the mid to late 1950 had adopted the Coventry Climax engine but this was both expensive and not an ideal “production” /volume sales car engine. It’s believed that Chapman wanted a performance engine that would be reliable and economic. The answer in part was the enhancement of an existing unit [thus avoiding development and initial capital set up and risk/ reputation] whilst being relative quick to market. Chapman’s concept/ direction lead to work with Harry Munday to design an improved twin cam for the existing well-proven Ford Kent engine. Keith Duckworth of Costin is also believed to have made a significant contribution in bringing the engine to a successful performance level [tune] c 1962
We must try to see events in the context and background of the era. From the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Britain had a successful motor industry, the international economy was good and mass production was viable to an increasingly young audience. Credit was becoming available. Fuel was relatively cheap. BMC and the Mini had a commercial and competitive success and there were marketing overlaps between the two. The Mini was on its way to becoming an icon.
Saloon car equated with the largest market. They were family cars. Racing gave mundane product glamour. Racing sold. To a certain extent manufacturers had to enter competitive motor sport to improve identity, brand perception, publicity and gain sponsorship.
Ford was unable to take the “Mini” small car share of the market. In marketing parlance they needed to compete in another segment and deducted perhaps the opportunity for a mass-market medium size car. For Ford’s success resulted from extremely detailed research and profiling. This was an absolute necessity for profitability. In hard commercial terms Ford needed to predict:
The precise share of the market and the volumes commensurate with this
The price that was required for this product to sell to anticipated audience within the category
The specification that conceptually would win the share and determine the profit margin as determined by point 2. [Bearing in mind failure relative to investment the formula has to be right]
Ford has built their reputation on this formula of shrewd and exhaustive market research. It’s hard nosed but it’s designed to deliver cost –value to the customer. Ford’s product might be slightly bland and this might be expected when you’re talking the necessary volumes to achieve affordable price; but the Cortina was eye catching and modern with perhaps a nod to American influence. [Another way of explaining is that it’s very democratic] The Cortina was a market leader and its believed it was the best selling car at point. Without saying it was very well engineered, yet easy and relatively inexpensive to produce. [A gift to the specialist builder]
The Ford Cortina Mk1 was the product of this detailed research. It was launched in 1962 and in production until 1966.
The basic parameters were:
Four seat saloon
Long stroke engine
Ifs; solid rear axle on half elliptical springs
Possible retail price c £500
We have noted that BMC obtained a marketing coup with the Mini. In the 1960’s Corporate Ford was thinking along the same lines. This might have related to their product planning and awareness of demographic change i.e. the younger buying public – its taste and interest and requirement for glamour.
Its known Ford made a commitment to enter racing. This emerged as the “Total Performance” strategy and image. This was to become a global promotion deriving publicity advantage from competition through the decade of the 1960’s.It was a radical departure for Ford’s. Its probable Walter Hayes at Ford might have respected Chapman and identified him for collaboration. Lotus had track record and they had close links bridged over the Lotus twin cam engine. The editor has not been able to discover the paper records that debated the cost benefit analysis – it seems untenable Ford would have contemplated such a decision without financial analysis? It would be material to know where and when and how the decision was actually taken. This would be a particularly valuable piece of research and the type the proposed museum would need to undertake.
Why his research is important is that it might shed light onto the exact circumstances of the Lotus involvement and the contract negotiated. Perhaps also worthy of investigation are the politics or dynamics and respective corporate roles of British and American Ford. Again it seems unconceivable that corporate mentality within Ford would not adopt formal contracts. It coincided at the time that Lotus move to a vastly bigger building at Cheshunt whilst entering production with the Elan. Was this pure coincidence? Did Lotus have a business plan that enabled loans to be secured against volume production?
Ford decision to enter racing with the Cortina required a thousand cars. [I.e. to satisfy regulations regarding Group 2 homologation this was achieved by September 1963]. The competition class had to be selected carefully in relation to modifications vis regulations. This was no minor contract. We might never know the exact evolution of events but we can be certain that Chapman’s flair and association with Ford would be beneficial [after all Lotus had been successfully using Ford components for a decade].
The arrangement bought Ford competition success and Lotus income and a bit more !!
The Lotus Cortina
This model has been known by many names including “Ford Consul Cortina Developed by Lotus”. It was a high performance model resulting from the collaboration between Ford and Lotus. It did not perhaps have obvious potential [other than the communality of the basic engine / its physical layout /size with the Lotus-Ford Twin-cam.] However it did become a very successful marriage of Twin cam Twin Carb’ 105 bhp engine with modified Cortina body shell. Ford supplied the two- door body shell and Lotus undertook the mechanical modifications.
The car had several teething problems associated with its hybrid construction. There were upgrades through the production life. It’s believed some models were offered in left hand drive?
For many it was the engine that determined the success and charisma of the Lotus Cortina.
Brief Specification/Fact sheet
Production: 1963-1966 [3000 cars approximately] commenced February 1963?
Body style: 2-door saloon. With Lotus modified aluminium components comprising doors, bonnet boot lid, clutch housing etc.
Engine: Lotus-Ford 1558cc straight 4 Twin OHC. [105bhp @ 5500 rpm?]
Wheelbase: 98” [2489mm]
Width: 63” [1600mm]
Lowered suspension; front independent. Rear live axle.
Brakes: Disc front; drum rear
Wide rim wheels [5.5 J x13]
States of Tune: standard 59.5bhp, Lotus 105 bhp, BRM 145bhp.
Weight: 1822 lbs? Estimated
Top speed: 107 mph? Approx.
All measurements /statistics approximate.
The Lotus Cortina Mk.II
Believed to have been designed by Roy Haynes it was launched in 1966. Its possible that it was Britain’s most popular car in 1967.It offered considerable value for money. The Lotus version may have become available in 1967.This model was more cost effective and was produced at Dagenham [this arrangement may have cut across Lotus relocation to Hethel in Norfolk.]
According to Hodges the Mk II’’s true role was to be “ a quick, comfortable and civilised road car”
Brief specification/fact sheet.
Produced 1967- 70 [Replaced by Twin Cam Escort]
Assembled by Ford’s
Approx 4000 cars built
2 door saloon
Engine 1558cc TOC
Terminated subcontract. Built by Ford on production line.
Brief Rally and Race Assessment.
The Lotus Cortina Mk.I would nearly dominate saloon car racing and rallying. This was in part due to the exceptional driving gifts of the likes of Jim Clark, Hill, Stewart, Beckworth, Sears, Sir John Whitmore, Ickx, Arundell and Alan Mann Racing. [In rallying by Taylor, Melia, Elford and Clark/Robson]
The Lotus Cortina won amongst others the:
1964 BRSCC Saloon Car Championship.
1966 RAC Rally
1965 Welsh International Rally
European Touring Car Championship
It competed in Britain, Europe and America
Ford Lotus Cortina –“Motor” Road Test 1965 – No5/64
The testers were very complementary about acceleration and realistic is their assessment of the overall performance of the car. They quote a weight of 20.25 cwt laden as tested and a weight distribution of 54.5/ 45.5.Purchase price including tax was £1,100. 2-11
Regarding the transmission the noted “ This very close ratio gearbox is for connoisseurs who will derive endless pleasure from its continual use – the temptation is to use it far more than necessary”
Handling and breaking were of a high order.” It is in fact a car in which really long journeys can be made without fatigue even on Continental roads.”
Ergonomics were good as was vision.
Lotus Cortina versus Willment Sprint Cortina [Small Car –April 1965]
The article rightly calls attention to the development routes and respective complexity of each car. The Willment philosophy in fact retaining and enhancing standard parts to maximum effect. It looked “innocuous”. It also retained standard parts and trim within. It was more orthodox, improving the existing, keeping costs down, ensuring compatibility with associated ease of maintenance.
The article calls attention to the respective specifications inside and out. [Lotus being more extensively worked. It’s fairly well known that the Lotus was more substantially changed inside and out. ]
The article is a reasonable road test and good quality detailed descriptions of functions are provided for both cars. Again remaining more standard the Willment retains more space and accessibility is easier. The testers noted the clutch on both cars was fairly fierce and probably better suited to racing than roadwork.
It was noted that the Willment’s engine was perhaps higher tuned than the Lotus and as such with a slightly better gearbox the Lotus was easier to drive.
A surprise to the author was that the testers found the Willment had the more sporting ride but the Lotus was possibly more sophisticated and more acceptable over longer distance. It was noted the Lotus had more understeer.
This was a responsible test and it was recorded both cars has a petrol consumption of appox. 23mpg. The range was around 180 miles and this caused reservations. Running costs were not prohibitive [insurance was not stated]
In summing up the magazine felt the Willment offered good value at £917 but the Lotus was more sophisticated with higher specification at £992.It was probably considered both were equal pond per specification with a slight nod towards the Lotus.
The article as accompanied by full technical analysis including
Speed, acceleration, fuel consumption and breaking
Running / maintenance, operation
Rating. Comparability/ criteria checklist
Body shape/layout comparison
Cortina Lotus Auto Car Road Tests [March and September 1967]
The Autocar report dated 9th March 1967 traces the development of the Lotus Cortina up to 1966; “to all intents and purposes the 1966 car was a Cortina GT with a twin cam engine and a few trim changes”
They continue “Basically the well –known Lotus inspired twin ohc engine – itself a conversion of the Cortina GT unit is unchanged, but the Special Equipment tune, previously a costly extra item has been standardised”
By way of summary Autocar commented; “ To the purist the rationalisation of the Cortina –Lotus is disappointing, but there can be no doubt that the 1967 car will be the best engineered and most reliable yet.”
The car retailed at £ 1068. 2-11
The report included a detailed mechanical specification.
The report of the 14th September 1967 was based on a week long extended test drive and featured a rally car. It was titled–Given the Works No.8
“The degree of engine tune was not very high and I was surprised how tractable the and un-temperamental was the Cortina”. Of driving it was noted “The crescendo of mechanical whine, throb and beat as the revs built up, drop momentarily when the gears are switched and then continue in a different key is something which has to be experienced”
A positive conclusion was drawn “ It is certainly extremely exciting and the kind of machine that one can never leave standing it just has to be driven”
Ford Contribution to Motor Sport.
Fords did not have a major direct involvement with motor sport like many other manufacturers from inception. However their reliable, tuneable and inexpensive engines and components both the straight four and V8 were used successfully in specials. This took on greater significance from the 1930’s. [See A&R articles relating to Les Ballamy]
However from the 1960’s onwards corporate policy and politics might have changed and perhaps it was thought “sexy” to re-brand and address a younger more sporting orientated audience. They launched the “Total Performance “ image. Ford entered motor sport and achieved considerable success quickly in both racing and rallying. Along with the Cortina their most famous products from this era included the GT40 and the Escort BDA Escort RS1600 [1970-74] Escort Mexico, Capri and Sierra Cosworth.In summary Ford’s contribution to motor sport includes:
World Rally Championship [up to the present day with Focus WRC]
Production/ Touring car
FI [First GP win in 1967 with Lotus –Ford and Jim Clark]
Qualities associated with Ford Engines and Particularly Kent.
Relatively light weight
Availability matched to affordability [inexpensive] with spares back up.
Compact layout, with good power to weight ratio
New and Second hand with warranties
Complementary, consistent and integrated drive train through clutch, gearbox and rear axle.
Applications of the Ford Kent Engine and Twin Cam.
1962-74 Lotus Elan
1963-64 Lotus Cortina
1967-70 Cortina Twin Cam
1968-70 Ford Escort Twin Cam
1968- Formula Ford Motor racing
1972-75 Lotus Europa [Type 74]
1973-74 Caterham SS
Brief List of Other Specialist Manufacturers that have used Ford Engines.
Various Italian super car manufacturers from 1960’s
Numerous British Ford Specials [Trials &racing]
Substantial No.FI /GP racing cars
Lotus: Consultancy &Collaboration.
Colin Chapman enjoyed a fruitful and symbiotic relationship with Ford’s. The emphasis communicated here is towards reality, practicality, pragmatism and enhancement. There is the opportunity for truly beneficial interrelationships even dependencies. Briefly others are [not in chronological order]:
De Lorean DMC-2
Chrysler Sunbeam Talbot
Toyota [arrangement to use Toyota parts]
General Motors, Isuzu, Chevrolet
LV engine using Vauxhall engine components [LV 220]
Kia, and Proton.
This has not been the easiest of articles to write as the editor has the least direct experience. The editor was also aware that there seems to be an absence of the actual contractual documents surrounding the award of the contract. Its unimaginable that Ford would undertake such an important venture on a handshake. From a truly objective/academic perspective the editor considers a major piece of research would involve tracing and publicising the exact terms that were negotiated. Such research might reveal that the Cheshunt works/ production facilities could be financed against assurances of scale and that further mass-produced Lotus cars might result and be possible? In any circumstance it was felt important to examine and analyse how mass produced components can be adapted into specialist manufactures product range.
The Ford –Lotus Cortina was a competitive product in its own right. It did no harm to Lotus. It contributed significantly economically. It extended dramatically ownership. It brought additional publicity into new forms of motor sport. Not least it gave Lotus a reputation for successfully consultancy and free access into product development. Possibly along the line they also gained greater appreciation of quality control and the economics of mass production. Denigrated by some the editors consider that the Ford –Lotus Cortina ought be re-evaluated and that young engineers, especially those with low start up capital ought study the formula and take inspiration from its practicality. Through out the 1960’s many extremely competitive machines were developed along this short cut e.g. Mini Marcos and Italian super cars.
Through critical analysis the reader has to acknowledge the often-excellent fundamental engineering of the mass produced product and the economy that results. For many small scale manufactures production would be impossible without access to such raw material and their cars viewed with greater suspicion without the reliability and availability of mainstream parts.
Ford and other manufactures e.g. Triumph suspension components have done much to enable a specialist motor constructors to exist.
The lesson for all engineers contemplating design and assembly is an examination of both the economics and performance of over the counter mass produced parts. Added value resides in the enhancement, integration and transformation of components.
A silk purse can be made from a sow’s ear providing you appreciate what you have in the first place.
Ford products may have lacked the “romance” and perhaps an aesthetic [but they also understood their market] but none the less have made a contribution to motor sport out of all proportion to their direct investment.
The A&R wish to record this fact and state in the event that the proposed museum was established Ford engineering would be given due prominence and “interpretation”. Ignoring this essential component / ingredient would be irresponsible, prejudicial and negligent in terms of equipping engineers with the fundamental underpinnings that permit a spring board into manufacture. It would also fail to objectively explain much of the success Lotus achieved. The Lotus –Ford link is also a significant aspect of British economic and manufacturing history.
“The Indicator” Journal of the Mk.II Cortina Owners Club. Souvenir Edition ;October 2006
New Cortina Owners Handbook 1966
“Small Car” April 1965.”Titans: Lotus Cortina/Willmet Sprint”
Jim Clark “Portrait of a Great Racing Driver” by Graham Gould. * [Paul Hamlyn 1968] *see A&R book review.
“The Motor” & “Autocar” Road Tests.
Colin Chapman –Lotus Engineering by Hugh Haskell. Osprey 1993. ISBN 1855323761
Illustrations: please see photographs from Crystal Place Revival sprint etc
The Lotus Book by William Taylor [particularly useful due to specification appendix]
Lotus –The Legend by David Hodges, Parragon 1997
5. CHAPMAN, COSTIN AND THE VANWALL.
The achievement of Tony Vandervell and the Vanwall are difficult to quantify with the passage of time. This article will attempt to reflect on its relative achievement and magnitude. It will attempt this with a wider appreciation of the technology base prevalent at the time.
The establishment of British motor sport and domination in during the 1960’s can be attributed to the inspiration of Vanwall. Much of the creative and winning advantage being supplied by Chapman and Costin.
In many respects Chapman and Lotus would inherit the mantle and represent Britain in International competition.
The editors had hoped to be able to present some new material as a result of research at Acton and Ealing [West London, UK] where the Vanwall was produced in the 1950’s. Sadly dramatic new archive or photographs have not been found. However research has thrown up at least a different perspective on the Vanwall achievements that have perhaps not been expressed previously.
Motor sport in an engineering and science lead sport. This emerged early in the motor car development, accelerated between the wars with the refinement of aerodynamic theory and again post war with adoption and extrapolation of scientific thinking more thoroughly integrated with the likes of Costin and Chapman. Here we witness the “Appliance of Science”
This science and level of technology is not cheap and hence the interesting comparison and competition between the major manufacturers and private independents with their respective budgets. The “David v Goliath”. The Continental Manufacturers v the British amateur constructor [“garagisters”]
In this article we will examine an interaction of the best of both through the Vanwall. A fuller a clearer appreciation of the subject matter might be achieved by our subscribers if they care to look at the A&R articles on our biography on Frank Costin; “The Works” and “Location and Evolution” of motor sport organizations and companies.
The Vanwall story is substantially British and reflects much of the engineering preeminence that was located in West London and particularly in Park Royal.
The Magnitude of the Vanwall Achievement.
It’s difficult for one generation to look back and understand the magnitude of achievement because of the difficulty in making relative comparison. The editors might suggest the recent success of Brawn.
Tony Vandervell with the Vanwall overcame a massive psychological barrier in relation to British motor sport. There had been Continental domination for 30 years.
Up until the Vanwall taking the World Championship in 1958 the previous pattern had been:
Continental Champions/Contenders British Challengers
Alfa Romeo ERA
Lago Talbot BRM
Ferrari Frazer Nash
Simca Gordini Cooper Bristol
Mercedes Benz Cooper Alta
Lanca Cooper Climax
Lancia Ferrari i Lotus Climax
Tony Vandervell made a very significant investment in the Thin Wall Bearing factory and the Vanwall programme. There is a suggestion that the patent, land, building and tooling cost in the region of £400,000 c 1935-1944. It’s possible that much of the cost of the Vanwall was wrapped within this. The fact remains that technology and success did not come cheap. Every indication is that it must bear some comparison with a modern FI team. Venables emphasizes this point when he notes “ it was a fitting reward for all the resources which Tony Vandervell had put into the Vanwall, whose cars were built to exquisite tool room standard”
Vandervell was definitely not a “garagister”
This investment was a made during a period of considerable economic uncertainty. Much of Britain’s resources were depleted during the Second World War. There was rationing for a period afterwards.
It was an immense achievement for the Vanwall to win the World championship in 1958.
It’s believed that the Vanwall won 6 out 0f 9 Grand Prix’s to take the Championship.
This must be understood in the context of the internal economic position and that of the continuity and confidence of the Continental opposition. However Britain had flair and technology extrapolated from wartime.
It’s perhaps important to note it was possibly one of the last of the front-engined generation.
It could not have been achieved with out the specialist craftsmen and companies conveniently located in London and distributed throughout the UK and beyond.
Guy Anthony [Tony] Vandervell
Tony Vandervell born in 1898 was quite a remarkable man. An industrialist/ entrepreneur, a patriot, motorcycle rider in his youth [he rode in trials and in the Senior Manx TT in 1921] .He is also believed to have raced at Brooklands c 1921-24. He fought for his country during the war. He took on the might of the Continent and after some failure and development was able to win when assistance was provided from Chapman and Costin.
It would seem to that he was a man of considerable vision [seeing, anticipating potential and possibly projections to future growth opportunities] mixed with determination. The evidence suggests that he was correct as shortly after their introduction the thin wall bearing was” used almost universally throughout the British and car and aircraft industries”
Obviously cultured and a sportsman in widest sense of the British tradition.
Tony Vandervell was a supporter of the BRM project [this would be natural accepting his competition interest and status as engineering / component manufacturer.]
Tony Vandervell is presented as hard but fair man. Possibly too an enlightened autocrat he probably saw the excessive and misguided committee structure at BRM as a handicap and drag on progress. He nonetheless generously supported motor racing.
He realistically acquired a Ferrari c 1948 for research and evaluation. This was [technically, economically, competitively and commercially] a very sensible approach. It would improve the learning curve and provide momentum. A second Ferrari was acquired and raced as the “Thin Wall Special” This must have provided the Vandervell Co. with useful publicity.
Venables records that Tony Vandervell “ ambition was to build a successful Grand Prix car. He set his staff working on a design for the 1952-53 2-0-litre Formula 2.”
Ultimately he had the confidence and determination to commit to winning.
He was modest and generous in sharing success and referred to achievements as a “Team Effort”
For the winning 1958 season Tony Vandervell secured the services of Moss, Brooks and Lewis-Evans.
Its possible that following the death of Lewis-Evans, and more competitive opposition Tony Vandervell decided to withdraw from racing in 1959. Vandervell did briefly experiment with a rear-engined car; the VW14 but the full GP team was not in operation.
Tony Vandervell died in 1967.Venables comments and makes the assessment
“His dedication and determination had put Britain on the map in Grand Prix racing. Vanwall started a run of success for British Racing Green which has been maintained ever since”
He also had the courage to commission Chapman and Costin. We ought understand this in the context that he was a very wealthy and significant powerful industrialist who had formed his own team. He must have had considerable faith and belief in Chapman and Costin. [Admittedly they both had track record but Lotus was under a decade old and had not yet entered FI] They were possibly well recommended but Tony Vandervell can be measured by his openness and determination to win in commissioning these two men. It’s also possibly consistent as s successful businessman that he was able to make calculated decisions regarding investments and outcomes.
The fact that they were London based and easily accessible was possibly a major contributory factor. The patronage must have lifted their esteem and confidence.
The Context and Brief History.
The interwar period was characterized by extreme swings in the world economies and of wealth and poverty. It was period also dominated by advances in technology, science and speed was both a physical reality but also an expression or motif of the era.
Airlines, flight technology and civil airship programmes expanded and with it the world shrank. Lindbergh in 1927 and Malcolm Campbell were heroes of speed and record breaking
In America we had the introduction of mass production of the motorcar as exemplified by Henry Ford who possible fore- sore the potential of a mass market following the production practice and capacity of the First World War. Complementary was the thinking of Frederick Winslow Taylor.
Counterbalanced against this progress was the 1926 General Strike in the Britain the 1929 Wall Street crash in 1929, the Depression in both America and Britain and as the shadow of war hung over Europe with the 1936 Jarrow March. On both sides of the Atlantic measures were attempted to alleviate some of the social extremes. America adopted the New Deal in 1935 and Tennessee Valley Authority established in 1939 and with it came mass electrification and the potential for economic growth.
During the 1930’s significant work was done relating to he atom.
In Britain during the 1930’s there were considerable economic and technological changes taking place. In fact he older Industrial Revolution with its locational patterns and manufacturing practice were being replaced.
In Britain and particularly in London the requirement for bigger plants and production methods [see above] and commensurate distribution systems demanded new locations and networks. This along with electrification and the house-building programme prompted what we know as “Metro Land”. The structural change in industry required an outwards movement from the older centers and in London towards the West and the larger mass production plants in the West Midlands.
Two major arteries/ corridors were created running out from Central London. Both ran through Middlesex. They were the Great West Road [particularly significant in Brentford [see A&R article on Motor sport locations] and Western Avenue running out through Acton and Perivale and most significantly alongside Park Royal. These combined with the rail connections gave access to the West, sources of skilled labour, distribution and markets.
The mid 1930’s were not the most auspicious time for major investment. However this is bravely, confidently and perhaps with insight Tony Vandervell did.
The architecture of the era was inspired by engineering and advances in production techniques. The leading school of thought at the time was the German Bauhaus. [See A&R article Industrial Designers] The electrified underground lines we have mentioned radiated out of London. Thee stations were strongly influenced by this modern style. One of the most representative is Park Royal serving the industrial heartland of London. Welsh and Lander designed this building under the influence of Charles Holden. It was and remains a significant landmark.
Tony Vandervell chose to build his factory almost opposite the Park Royal station on the northern side of Western Avenue we believe. The suggestion is that Sir Aston Webb in 1935.Its believed the design the building has been demolished.
Collaboration of actual location has proved difficult. Search of the Internet has not revealed any pictures of the building. The editor has only seen two photographs in Jenkinson and Posthumus. Reference to the large scale Ordinance Survey maps is inconclusive, although they do concur with Kemps directory of 1955. The editor believes that the building built in 1935 may have been extended [see Ordinance Survey sheet for both 1935 and 1956] and that a further factory or administration building might have been in close proximity. The editors deduction is that a two storey building in the modernist style with a central staircase / lift was approximately 180 -200 feet long approximately and ran parallel with the Western Avenue and was shoe horned between the main road and railway line to the north. The building seems to be finished in white smooth render and each of the symmetrical wings had lettering stating Vandervell Products Ltd. above the second storey windows and below the parapet. In one photograph the chimneys of the Guinness Brewery at Park Royal can be seen [or conversely the chimneys of the milk factory opposite]. The OS plan indicates there was a service road leading into the site from Western Avenue and a platform alongside the building suggests is function of efficient loading and delivery. There are others suggestions that a second Vendervell building might have been built c 1936/37.
The Economic Geography and Technology in West London.
In our economic investigation we must make some estimations/ extrapolations. However should the CCM&EC be established it would be hoped that much more detailed, and accurate research could be conducted particularly with regard to the cost of related projects and associated legal contracts.
West London has a significant economic and technological history from the 19th century. This partly grew up around the Grand Junction canal.
An early aerodrome was developed by London Aviation Co in the North Acton corner of Middlesex, West London. Ruffy, Arnell& Baumann made a plane c 1917 they were taken over by Alliance Areoplane Co.De Havilland tri-planes/ biplanes were also made there c 1919. Renault made cars at a factory in Acton and skilled manufacture was intensified on the Park Royal complex .In 1952 Park Royal comprised 335 acres.
It’s therefore understandable why Charles and later Tony Vandervell would see such advantage in the area.
Charles Anthony Vandervell moved his company [later known as CAV that made accumulators, electric lamps and switchboards] from Willesden to Warple Way, Acton Vale, and West London between 1904 and 1908 it’s estimated.
It’s believed they were involved in general engineering, tool making and manufactured precision instruments. According to Venables they “supplied electrical components to many manufacturers in the early British motor industry”.
Charles Vandervell also had an interest in Norton the motorcycle manufacturer.
The firm pioneered the dynamo charged battery and in 1911 produced the worlds first public service lighting system. Other items included vehicle electrics and aircraft magnetos. As the company and technology advanced they also made wireless components, fuel injection pumps for diesel industry and during the Second World War fuel systems for aircraft.
The following employment details are recorded:
Its believed that in 1926 CAV was bought by Joseph Lucas and in the later stages before the factory closed in the late 1970’s / 80’s heavy duty electrical equipment for commercial vehicles were produced.
Vandervell Products originated as O&S Oiless Bearings Co .It was bought in 1927 by Charles Vandervell whose son Tony was made director. The company acquired the American patent or licence from Cleveland Graphite Bronze for the revolutionary thin wall or shell engine bearing from 1935.
During the Second World War they made bearings for the Napier “Saber” aero engine.
In 1967 the company was bought by GKN production was moved to Maidenhead in Berkshire and the Acton works closed in 1970
Its believed that the Vanwall was constructed at the Vandervell works on Western Avenue. This was of course immediately adjacent to the Park Royal Industrial complex.
The car was constructed at what was called the “Stable” and twelve engineers/ fitters craftsmen attended to them under Frank Davis. Klemantaski alludes to “Acton the Racing Department”
Western Avenue was only eight to ten miles from Hornsey and would be connected via the North Circular.
Incidentally supporting the technical skill base were the following colleges in the immediate area;
- Acton Technical college
- Acton School of engineering
- Chiswick Polytechnic
- Ealing Technical College
- Ealing School of Art
The population of Acton in 1954 was 67,640 and the Rateable Value £875.821
A basic analysis of the specialist contributions to the Vanwall
Jenkinson &Posthumus provide a listing of the companies and specialists that supported the Vanwall programme.
89 organizations are listed in total.
28 are London based
51 are British based
10 are Continental or American
The editors suggest reference to the Max Miller cutaway drawing that is a fine technical treaties that acts as an X Ray and will assist recognition and interrelationship of components.
All those companies that are recorded by Jenkinson and Posthumus are detailed in the A&R article on “Motor Sport “locations.
The Vanwall: Basic Specification.
The Vanwall became World Champion in 1958 and its success was part attributed to its balanced combination of reliability and innovation.
- Four-cylinder in line engine twin ohc derived from concepts used in Manx Norton motorcycle engine with Rolls Royce B40 crankcase. Weight estimated 164 kg]
- 265-270 bhp estimated and depending on fuel.
- 5 speed gearbox
- Dry Weight 1346ibs estimated
- Fuel injected
- 2.5 liters [2490cc] bore 96mm x 86mm stroke cr .11:1
- 2 valves per cylinder 2 spark plugs per cylinder.
- Ignition Bosh double magneto
- Goodyear Disc brakes .F&R
- De Dion rear suspension. Radius arms and Watts linkage.
- Front suspension by wishbones and coil spring dampers.
- Speed approximately 165 mph
- Frontal area: 12,8 sq, ft
- Chassis by Cooper modified by Chapman [see below] Space frame possibly similar to existing Chapman design]
- Cd: 0,585
- Length: 14 ft
- Wheel base 7’6 1/4”
- C 1955 / 56 4 cars built with interchangeable components.
- Chassis No’s VW 1/56 to VW4/56
- Vanwall multiplate clutch
- ZF limited slip differential.
- Tyres: Dunlop .F 5.50x 16 R 7.oox 16
- Saddle petrol tanks with capacity 180 litres
Chapman and Costin: Their contribution to the Vanwall.
“For 1956 more power was found in the engine while Colin Chapman who had built up a considerable reputation with his Lotus sports –racing cars was engaged to design a new stiffer chassis frame and revised rear suspension. At Chapman’s suggestion Frank costing an experienced aerodynamicist, designed a new and distinctive low drag body which owed much to aircraft practice”
It’s believed to have won the first race after Chapman/Costin modifications.
There are possible variations and interpretations around this involvement. [Quality research is required as to possible contracts and the respective drawings prepared] One suggestion and perfectly pragmatic is that Chapman may have made verbal suggestions letting the Vandervell crafts men interpret these so the older chassis was improved. This has been alluded to as the “Master class”
Costin did a considerable job on the aerodynamic body. The details are set out in Bamsey’s book. Copies exist elsewhere of Costin’s notebook and calculation. On one page alone there are 26 sets of measurements/ calculations and a schematic diagram of the body in side elevation. Costin’s work is characterized by the thoroughness and attention to detail.
The whole was greater than the sum of the parts. The Chapman chassis and Costin body were probably highly integrated and complementary. Its believed that although the Vanwall engine may have produced marginally more power than the Ferrari V12 it had a 10-15 mph advantage in straight line speed on some tracks. This is more likely to be attributed to the effective body profile.
“The whole aspect of the new Vanwall was one of functional efficiency rather than sops to traditional racing car shape”……….. “The Vanwall was remarkably tall broad and bulbous shape, and yet beautifully smooth and curvilinear.”
Costin then was using the principles of high and low air pressure to achieve extracting / exhaust of air. In many respects it more resembled an aircraft, with a cockpit semi enclosed screen as a canopy.
We know how significant aerodynamics is in modern FI.
We cannot underestimate the achievement of the Vanwall or that of Chapman and Costin. The Vanwall was a technological triumph and re-launched the British Motor sport industry. Chapman would accelerate the development and go on to experiment and utilize aerodynamic thought to improve handling and down force. He too would take the World Championship on multiple occasions.
The achievement can neither be understood without reference to Britain’s technological, engineering and craft skill empathy. The A&R article on locations is a base line from which we will advance.
The A&R will continue to research these interrelationships and hopes in time to undertake more through investigation in order that more exacting, reliable and therefore more informed material will prove inspiring for future generations of engineers and entrepreneurs.
Vanwall; Ed McDonough, Crowood 2003
Vanwall: Jenkinson&Posthumus, Stephens 1975
Vanwall:Ian Bambsey, Foulis 1990
The Vanwall Story: Klemantaski &Frostick. Hamish Hamilton1958
All four books were accessed through the British Library Shelf reference available on request. Alternatively order on line.
Research at Ealing Library provided the large scale Ordinance Survey Maps and photographs of the Vandervell factory building in Warple Way, Acton Vale, West London.
Max Miller cutaway technical drawing of Vanwall. Also cutaway featured in “Automobile Year 1958”
Appendix 4 from Jenkinson and Posthumus. Concerns which assisted in the construction and development of the Vanwall” [appreciation increased and referenced in conjunction with Max Miller drawing.
Ossulstone Hundred [Acton]
Kemps Directory of Acton 1955
Motor Racing Records by Ian Morrison. Guild Publishing 1987
British Racing Green by David Venables .Ian Allan. 2008
6. Lotus books one for the library.
NEWEST ACQUISITIONS TO A&R LIBRARY/ BOOK REVIEW.
AUTHOR: Tonia Bern-Campbell
TITLE: My Speed King: Life With Donald Campbell.
PUBLISHER: Sutton Publishing
ARCHIVE AND RESOUCE COPY: YES /
This is quite an exceptional book and not in the formalistic mould of many. It might be considered part biography and part autobiography of the marriage, life and times of Donald Campbell and his wife Tonia Bern-Campbell.
The A&R editors lived through this exciting era of the 1960’s and were shocked by the tragedy and premature death of Donald Campbell in 1967.
The life story that unfolds also in many ways overlaps with Colin Chapman and its possible to make comparisons. Both men lived in a world shaped by speed, Death, glory, money, fame, technology and disappointment. Both men lived life to the full and its very probably that their personalities and frailties were heightened by the known risks.
The book has an additional interest foe the editor as Campbell lived and grew up in Surrey and resided near Reigate and then Dorking.
Donald Campbell [1921-1967] was born in Kingston, Surrey. He was the son of Sir Malcolm Campbell who had been a world speed record holder in the 1920’s and 30’s. With a dedicated team of engineers and administration including Leo Villa. Donald would become a multiple world record holder in his own right.
He died on 4th January 1967 whilst attempting a water speed record in “Bluebird”K7 jet propelled boat in which he hoped to reach speeds of approximately 300mph.
Donald Campbell is described as multi-talented man whose gifts ranged over:
Multiple world speed record breaker on land and water
Skilled publicist and marketing professional.
In “My speed King “ Tonia records with a full rich and sincere humanity their eight year marriage. Her book of 235 pages contains eighteen chapters, epilogue and postscript. The editor feels some of the most moving and touching chapters are those describing their meeting in London and Chapter 1, Meeting with Destiny and Chapter 17 The Crash -4th January 1967.
Theirs was a tumultuous world wind romance and collision of glory jet set, playboy and show business.
Tonia writes not only as the wife but also with:
A gifted fluent and accessible unaffected style.
Perspective and penetrating insights into the working of their marriage, the man and the circumstances and context of the times.
A frankness, sincerity and authenticity rarely experienced
She is able to portray her husband in his many moods ranging from the passionate, touchy, irritable, occasionally temperamental and selfish. However we see the workings of a determination, dedication, patriotic and romantic that perhaps lived in the shadow of a dominant father.
Tonia tells us frankly about her health and the miscarriage she suffered. She was very much part of the inner team and was nicknamed “Fred”. She was skilled and talented musician in her own right.
Early on she tells us who she felt after Donald had died
“Thursday 23rd February 1967.The weather in England should be cold and rainy or at least cloudy. But not today it’s bright and sunny.
The only clouds are within me ………..What was he to them? I would not know. And to me? He was my sun, moon the stars, my whole world”…
She also tells us about the working of the press and its snide behavior and we can question what has changed in forty years.
The editor feels that the book is so well written and specific it would easily convert to a moving, gripping film or insightful documentary. Tonia has such natural writing gifts and such is the flow and momentum she might have from the outset conceived the book for translation into film.
The editors consider the proposed museum’s role is in part to help the interpretation of history. There are many ways to achieve this not least by appropriate comparison and the appreciation of the human side, strength weakness and motivation of those participants. Campbell and Chapman perhaps like all famous men have been in turn glorified and vilified. The Museum has the opportunity of introducing objective balance. In the process offering fuller appreciations and this is felt to be better way to encourage and sponsor innovation.
“My Speed King is a very worthwhile read and the editors commend it feeling those that absorb the sentiments will be better equipped to understand the times as well as the complexities and contradictions of men who are driven to explore horizons and who it is known suffer premature death.
7. Lotus collectables
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Merrymeet Model Cars
8. Lotus interest on YouTube
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Editors of the newsletter
Jamie Duncan (webmaster)