Classic Cars: Lotus Interpretation

Survey and Polling of Classic Cars: Lotus Interpretation.


Assessment is both a very human and scientific approach. In simple terms its an elementary benchmarking and or measure of relativity. Best to worst. Almost any subject person /object can be graded in this fashion although the results may be subjective. In some cases the assessment model might be marked or scored.

The exercise might be performed and samples taken by one of many organizations. The outcomes might be seen as broader representation and have commercial overtones ranging from popular demand to values.

Radio stations often run such exercises and it helps determine what is played. The BBC series on “Great Britons” see A&R related articles are based on assessments.

It ought be noted that fashions and taste changes and this is desirable. However the exercise still tends to produce the “classics” in the true meaning of the word.

The A&R will report regularly on such surveys and conduct its own on line.

Initial survey is provided by Classic Cars to whom we are indebted

 “Classic Cars”

Editor Robert Croucher introduces the subject of the survey with:

“the age old debate continues; what are the best classic cars? There is no definitive answer, of course but that’s what makes the question fun as well as rhetorical………this month’s special supplement asks a number of freethinking enthusiasts this difficult question. Their selection is as enlightening as its disparate”

Car Selection Criteria

The means of assessment might vary quite considerably. It might start with a predefined group; it might be random based solely on panel preference. The selection of the panel’s professional perspective may influence so a wide based cross section is desirable. The “Classic Cars” panel is very fair and balanced and hence likely to generate creative and informed selections. The panel might be provided with a suggested checklist and scoring method or they might be simply allowed to be guided by their knowledge and experience. Somewhere in the equation might be some of the following criteria:

  • Elegance and aesthetics
  • Specification and quality of workmanship
  • Technical/ engineering innovation
  • Race/ competition success
  • Value
  • Status in popular culture/ history and association etc
  • Symbolism
  • Rarity
  • Utility
  • “Engineering Package” and Engineering integrity
  • Car/ designer interface and interaction e.g. reputation and artistic expression etc.
  • Direct experience of ownership or driving experience

In this checklist are some obvious extremes but nonetheless objective and meaningful criteria. They are helpful to achieve balance

Panels Choice

The five panelists selected fifty cars. The panelists were:

  • Gordon Murray
  • John Haynes
  • Denis Jenkinson
  • The Earl of March
  • Vanessa Finburgh

These are their choice.

Classic cars: Top Ten Classics: August 1994
G.Murray J.Haynes D.Jenkinson Earl of March Ms.Finburgh


Lotus Elan Duesenb’J LanciaA’ B20 Jaguar Dtype Maserati 61


Lotus Elite JaguarXK150 BMW 202 Maserati250F Bugatti T51


Fiat 500 AC Cobra JaguarE type Ferrari P4 JaguarCtype


McLaren FI Ferrari BB Porsche356 Bugatti 35B M-Benz250S


Ferrari Mond’ MGA Roadst’ M-Benz300SL Porsche 924 AC Ace


AR 33 Strad’ Morris Cowl’ Citroen DA19 A-M DBR1 Alfa Monza


AR Giulia TZI Citroen DS19 Citroen SM BRM P25 A-M DB5


Lotus7 S’3 Auburn 852 Dino 246 Alfa R’ P3 Austin-H 100


Abarth 1000 Porsche9iiRS Porsche 928 MG K3 Lotus Seven


Porsche 550 RR Corniche MorrisM’1000 Porsche 550 Ferrari 275

“Famous Five’s Top Ten”

  • Maserati “Birdcage” 1958-62
  • Lotus Elan S3 1965-68
  • BMW 202 1968-72
  • Lancia Aurelia B20 1953-58
  • Jaguar D Type 1954-57
  • Duesenberg Model J 1929-37
  • Maserati 250 F 1954-58
  • Jaguar XK 150 dhc 1957-61
  • Bugatti Type 51 1931-35
  • Lotus Elite 1957-63


The selection is rich and diverse. It is reflects and informed choice of cultured people who are knowledgeable of cars. The totality of fifty cars creates the opportunity for wide based inclusion but also for some communality or common denominator.

The fact that three Lotus models are amongst the top fifty and that two are in the top ten is very significant. It is perhaps more natural that a peer engineer like Gordon Murray would select three Lotus out of ten.

This tells us how they are perceived and where they are placed in a continuum. Amongst some of the finest most exotic, exuberant and radical cars of all time Lotus emerges as one of the best.

The inference must be that if they hold the respect of such an esteemed and qualified panel they ought deserve greater preservation and presentation. To the editors who have seen many surveys where Lotus are acknowledged as the best and where other marques have a museum; it seems criminal that Colin Chapman and Lotus ought go unrecognized.

The editors ask who is being punished and to what purpose. If its proven / established that Chapman/Lotus designs are in the vanguard then the economic imperative ought be that this engineering inspiration is disseminated. To withhold or deny such an opportunity seems merely vindictive or suggests a distorted cost –benefit analysis.

The Proposed CCM&EC

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. Its suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In particular the museum ought conduct surveys such as the “Classic Cars” magazine. This can be done both on line and from visitors. There is significant information to be gained not least relating to acquisition policy but also exhibitions. Contained within surveys is a deep inherent educational opportunity. It can be used to make students more analytical and expose then to engineering / production costs/ problems and outcomes. The museum exhibits and archive might be interrogated as part of the education search and evaluation exercise.


Classic Cars. August 1994.ipc magazines