Newsletter October 2009 – Number 16
Museums around the world you may not have heard of: Lane Motor Museum, Nashville
Questions from our readers
A few pictures of Lotus at the Goodwood Revival
Three Icons series – Part Three: Williams Lyons
The little Lotus museum (a taster.. more next month)
Lotus books (recommended reading)
Lotus books (one for the library).
Lotus interest on YouTube
All previous articles relating to these are held on the website
1. Awesome Autumn
Co-Editor of the website enjoying the autumn drive.
In an earlier article the editor has explained the sensory reward of driving an open sports car. In this item He would like to record the special seasonal qualities that can be experienced.
Autumn leaf colour and light are one of the most magical of nature and repeated as part of nature’s reproductive cycle. Autumn perhaps is the most symbolic of seasons; benign, bountiful, beneficial. It also reflects the autumn of life; the mellowed, matured, ripened and the harvest reward.
To the editor autumn is a hymn sung as the days shorten but quality extends its haunting golden precious magic and mystery. The actual change is part chemical and part a response to changing amounts of daylight and temperatures and is a function of deciduous woodlands. Examined more minutely the leaves progress through stages and part of the joy is the gradation and variation they produce. First it seems like a yellowing fir upon the leaf, changing to a gradual golden tinge deepening to tan brown and often multiple shades of red. Many will resist and display spots of orange. The pattern of change can vary but often might start at the serrated edges. Feather shaped leaves might display an accelerated change to one half or progress tip to base.
Recording an autumn drive along the A roads of Surrey [A23, 25 and 22]
Accelerating into the lane the car blows the leaves like and invisible broom and beneath the tyres the sound of the crumbling, crunch and crackle as the car travels over the burnt russet carpet.
The flickering golden tinged light throws piano key patterns across the road and as we leave the village and out through the fields there are gaps in the hedges through which “the rays of the setting sun paint the yellow harvest with warmer colours and throw ever lengthening shadows across the fields”.
Our drive takes us onto the A23 and through the village of Merstham. Here in particular with the presence of architecture the late autumn light takes on in best and greatest radiance .It creates an extra dimension. The light is pure sharp and provides a special ambience and envelope. It’s difficult to capture in words but has the quality of an Autumn scene painted by Alfred Sisley and the other Impressionists.
The golden tinged light seems to work with architecture and building materials; accentuating, complementing as they absorb and radiate its warmth and comfort.
The late afternoon sun permeates a kind mellow, generous beguiling glow on the surface of buildings.
It forms sharp shadows and plays and modulates surfaces especially on the brick and tile. In the closing hours of the day as the golden bowl melts and the fluid runs seemingly intensifying as it disappears over the horizon. All nature seems blessed and bathed in its clear crystal touch.
The sun hangs and hovers seemingly reluctant to descend; subtle and sublime, patient it pours out an ambience, calm, redeeming serene in its stillness, whilst it still has a strength to warm, wraps, binds, heals and content.
With the evening chill, cottage fires send dark smoke ring upright into cloudless azure skies. Stillness and calm pervades. From garden bonfires the tang of smoke drifts in the air and evokes memories. The lavender and roses still bloom in protected corners of the gardens.
Leaving the village, the dying sun and falling temperature prompt thoughts of returning home. The drive takes us along avenues of trees that overhang the road. The colour nuisances a flux and fusion of gradations; green –brown evolving decaying .The palette spectrum burnt bronze, brown, beige and brass. Fanned by the breeze the trees almost appear like flaxen, flame like fires. When grouped in dense clusters they appear like distance furnaces. “The amber sunlight falls across the reddening September trees”.
It’s a delight to lightly embrace the laminated steering wheel rim itself the colour warm tan.
The evening chill deepens and descends the first signs of dew falling and condensation. The car meanders through the lanes the handling and sensations sublime. The last rays of the sun linger and seem to hesitate and fall on the bare aluminium body and form a golden glaze, ranging from umber to amber, a molten honey and finally blood red as the sun finally sacrifices and surrenders herself.
Homeward journey is completed with some reluctance but the biting cold night air is an incentive to return and there is the hope and optimism that the drive can soon be repeated on a different route.
The Archive and Resource is always pleased to hear of your driving experiences. This article is being published to prompt your recollections. We look forward to hearing from you.
2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of: Lane Motor Museum, Nashville
Lane Motor Museum News
Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee is one of the few museums in America to specialize in European cars. Approximately 150 cars and motorcycles not typically seen in the U.S. are on display.
Lane Motor Museum features a unique collection of mostly European automobiles, housed in a former 132,000 square foot bakery. The majority of our vehicles were built in the 1950s through 1970s although we have some as old as the 1920s and as new as 2000.
You will be introduced to a broad cross-section of vehicles; over 45 marques representing Asia, Europe, and North and South America. Politics, geography, familial relationships, and economics are but some of the factors which have shaped vehicles throughout history. This is a working museum with the goal being to maintain all vehicles in running order.
The majority of our collection is arranged by country–Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and the United States. Here you will learn how similar–and different–vehicles are from one part of the world to another–and why.
Here you will find:
* The largest Czechoslovakian collection outside Europe
* Amphibious vehicles
* Competition cars
* Alternative fuel vehicles
* Military vehicles
* One-of-a-kind vehicles
3. Question (can you help?)
We frequently get asked from around the world quite amazing questions , so far we have used a limited group to try and answer them, not always successfully. We put them on our website and see if any “friends” know the answer.
Still many unanswered questions on our website can you help?
Note… We are still looking for a photo of Pub Lotus..there must be one out there somewhere.
Dear Mr Duncan,
I am writing to you hoping that you may be able to point me in the right direction. I am currently trying to research my family tree and track down any documentation regarding its history. My reason for writing to you is because of my grandfather Lewis Charles Sheridan and his connection to Colin Chapman… before Lotus.
My Grandfather worked closely with Mr Chapman as my father describes it when they were working from a shed. My grandfather served his apprenticeship at The Austin Motor company between 1924-1929 and then went on to work in their road test department. He served as a mechanic/engineer and co driver in the 1929 Ulster T T Race for which I have documentation for as well as a couple of photographs. He declined to go with Mr Chapman when he was first setting up on his own in favour of financial security for his family.
I am hoping that you may be able to direct me to somewhere I might be able to find more documentation of the time he spent with Mr Chapman as this would be of extreem interest to my father especially as well as giving a fuller picture of his life for the family tree and future generations.
If you can help I would really appreciate it
4. A few Lotus pictures from the Goodwood Revival
5. Three Icons series –Part three William Lyons
MOTORING ICONS OF THE 20TH CENTUARY: LOTUS, BUGATTI AND JAGUAR
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS BY JOHN SCOTT-DAVIES
Sir William Lyons [Jaguar] 1901-1985
In the book Auto Legends: Classics of Style and Design, the authors Zambrunn and Cumberford made these observations on Sir William Lyons “Britain’s finest ever stylist…………………..first and foremost a tough capable business man .He possessed an innate sense of line and form and an unbeatable sense of what would sell…………..His cars were rarely completely original and he improved on what he borrowed.”
Sir William Lyons rose from humble beginnings to become one of Britain’s foremost car manufacturers and pillars of the motoring establishment. He was neither an engineer nor draughtsman.
Sir William was in many respects very conservative and a typical English Gentleman but was not afraid to take calculated risks. He was possibly foremost an entrepreneur. There is perhaps the sense that Sir William may have liked to have been a formal stylist .He possessed a sense of good taste, but he neither drew or modelled .However despite this he created the Jaguar look.
In business Sir William was extremely successful and possessed single mindedness and considerable determination. Some have described him as enigmatic. He was certainly according to records cool, aloof and autocratic.
Jaguar under his direction displayed shrewd judgement for a combination of style with competitive price. These qualities were reinforced by business and assembly organisation enforced with strict discipline. In addition and complementary activities were Sir Williams’s demonstrated flair for finance, marketing, publicity, sales and customer relations.
Sir William purchased other companies to complement and enhance or perhaps reinforce Jaguar. These included Coventry Climax. It is interesting that there is a suggestion that c 1963/64 that Lotus was considered as an acquisition but the deal was not concluded.
Jaguar understood the importance of exports and the American market and vigorously pursued this. Sir William was a devoted family man and took great satisfaction from his farm and flock of prize sheep.
Sir William was knighted in 1956.He received an honory doctorate in 1969.In addition Sir William was formally recognised by prestigious design bodies the RDI and FRSA. He was awarded honory Fellowship of the Institute of Mechanical engineers
Sir Williams’s son John died in a car accident in 1955. This must have been severe blow as Sir William had groomed and prepared his son to inherit Jaguar.
Sir William was not a competitive driver. Neither did he pursue the sport as primarily objective or principle. He rather pursued racing as a means of enhancing sales. However his cars were used in competition from the SS in the 1930’s.The area of greatest success for Jaguar was in the 1950’s during the decade they were remarkably successful and consistent. Racing continued through the 1960’s but in the less glamorous saloon car racing.
Jaguar will perhaps be most indentified with sport racing cars that dominated Le Mans. The Jaguar started with the XK 120 and evolved the C and D Types .These cars also had the cmmon denominator of the superb and reliable straight six engine.
Jaguar cars also entered trials, saloon and national sports car events. Sir William never committed to FI- GP racing. He withdrew from racing probably for a combination of reasons that might include complexity, cost and that buoyant sales and demand did not warrant the publicity.
More recently Jaguar returned both to success and Le Mans. Although it has entered FI it has not enjoyed the same success.
Peer Influence and contributions
Sir William not being an engineer drew heavily on his engineering employees and craftsmen; specialist in their individual fields not least the development of the straight six twin overhead camshaft engine.
Although Sir William had considerable stylistic flair his greatest achievement borrowed heavily from other manufacturers. The SS looked somewhat like the Daimler Double Six; the XK 120 like the B.M.W and Bugatti’s. The aesthetics of the C and D types were functional and not stylistic and are attributed to aero dynamist Malcolm Sayer.
Although not an engineer Sir William might be given credit for engaging the considerable talent of others and having the commercial and aesthetic appreciation to market an attractive and overall competitive range of motoring products. Furthermore it was the commercial and design flair of Sir William that allowed the iconic cars like the E Type to be available to such a wide audience.
Sir William was not personally involved in external industrial design; neither did he take out any patents. Perhaps it should be remembered that Jaguar did consider some utility vehicles for war use and also some lesser commercial vechicles.
Less than Expected
Jaguar did not have many failures. Sir Williams’s cars right from the start, including the sidecars and Austin Seven specials were very specifically targeted and priced for volume production. As such his cars sold well in the depressed era of the 1930’s.
The Mk.X and S Type were possibly the least successful; perhaps failing on appearance as much as the fuel crises.
It is of considerable speculation whether the XJ13 could have been competitive .It is probable that it suffered from lack of commitment from the top and might have been over late as a result. It was certainly dramatic in appearance. Some might make a comparison between the XJ13 and the XK220. The XK220 suffered from technical problems and other external economic forces although briefly one of the fastest cars in the world.
The author feels that the current range has been a mixed bag of design motif and the XK8 being rather bland and not really connecting with the distinctive style achieved in the past. Along with other manufacturers the retro style is not easily or successively adopted. The author would attribute this to the compactness of modern cars and in particular the transverse front engine. The shorter bonnet fails to articulate the power of the straight six engines etc.
The Iconic Cars
In design and market terms Sir William was something of a democrat. He made available to the public and enthusiast the types of car that they aspired to but could not otherwise afford. The early cars as such might have been slightly boy racer with economies on performance to enhance visual appeal.
Within a survey of the worlds one hundred most iconic cars; Jaguar are likely to record the SS100, XK120, DType [and XKSS]; E type and the XK220.In addition the XK engine will be remembered for its Stirling work in the Tojerio and Lister.
Of all of these it is perhaps the E type that will be remembered the most due to a unique combination of features; its aesthetic, performance, affordability and the era in which it was born and in many respects defined.
6. Marc Hogenkamps wonderful “Little Lotus museum in France”
We have featured many of Marc’s diaroma’s in previous newsletters. What he is undertaking at the moment is much more ambitious in the form of his own museum. More pictures to follow.
7. Lotus books (recommended reading)
Just the one addition this month.
Lotus – Historic Half Century
Some of these books are out of print so autojumbles may help. More recommendations welcome. Please keep sending recommendations.
8. Lotus books one for the library.
The history of the Lotus 23
A very well researched and detailed book.. It is a complete record and history of the Lotus Twenty Three, a definite keeper for the library. Can be bought from many sources for £25.
9. Lotus collectables
Original mint condition JPS Team Lotus shirt
This is an opportunity for you to share with other “friends” any pictures of collectables you may have. Just send me an email with the picture attached and it will be included in our next update.
10. Lotus interest on “YouTube”
One item on Youtube maybe of interest our readers.
Lotus 2-Eleven Mt Buller Sprint
Thank you for your continued interest and support
Editors of the newsletter
Jamie Duncan (webmaster)