Lotus Elan

Black Lotus Badges Yet Again

PostPost by: abstamaria » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:18 pm

Not to restart a thread, but simply to share a post by the local club, the Manila Sports Car Club, on its Facebook page today. MSCC wrote-

"For about a year from late 1968, Lotus cars appeared from the factory wearing a black badge, instead of the traditional yellow and green. The reason was never explained, as the founder Colin Chapman carried it to his grave in 1982. Chapman was of course the spirit behind Lotus, but much of Lotus?s reputation and success was also due to World Champion Jim Clark. The chemistry and friendship between the designer Chapman and his race driver Clark ?geniuses that fit together - was palpable, and together they were unbeatable. But Jim Clark met an untimely death in a crash at Hockenheim. The date? April 7, 1968."

image.jpg and
Last edited by abstamaria on Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: abstamaria » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:23 pm

The MSCC photo is a good one, but it sometimes disappears in some browsers. Anyway, here is the link to the MSCC post for those who are curious -

https://www.facebook.com/251358430206/p ... =3&theater

Best,

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Last edited by abstamaria on Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:26 pm

So what is the earliest verifiable black badge car - My Elan 36/8555 August 1968 came with a black badge originally

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PostPost by: Grizzly » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:54 pm

I was always under the impression the Black nose badge was used for one year in 1968-1969 (be interesting to see if there was any cars with black badges pre April 1968), i know by 1970 it had gone back to yellow and green.

I remember having a chat to one of the guys at Chris Neils after noticing an Esprit in the early 80's fitted with one as a memorial to Colin Chapman, he told me the only other time Lotus used it was after the Hockenheim accident (assuming he meant the death of Jim Clark but it would make sense knowing how close CC was to Jim Clark) but i think that common knowledge.

There is some confusion regarding the Black inertia logo's and steering wheel badge, it's said they where simply to match the Black trim.
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PostPost by: 661 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:50 pm

My car , 0135G, first registered 9/1/70 had a beaten around black badge on it when I bought it in 1986. It looked original, or had had a difficult paper round.
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PostPost by: stevebroad » Fri Nov 13, 2015 3:39 pm

I bought my 1967 E reg S3 Elan around 1974 and it had black badges. I have since assumed that they were fitted by a previous owner and not the factory.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:00 pm

Graeme, was your car registered 1.9.70? According to my records it was made Mar, Apr, May time.

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PostPost by: Maulden7 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:42 pm

According to the tale told by Graham Arnold, the colour change to black was born more out of necessity than commemoration, as the green/yellow badge failed collision tests in the USA because the enamel became "sharded", & the only alternative available that didn't do this was black.

Discuss!?
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Fri Nov 13, 2015 6:00 pm

My 2 cents on the black badge "mystery":

I am the original owner of a 1969 S4 SE DHC (Federal, LHD) - 45/9182. I picked the car up myself at the Lotus factory in Norwich on July 9, 1969. Car was registered in the UK (for ultimate export to US) as LCL 663G to allow me to drive it in the UK and throughout the Continent before export. Car shipped by me to California August 29, 1969.

My car had (and still has ) the black badges (nose and horn button). At the time ca. 1969, at the factory and elsewhere (UK and Continental Lotus dealers where I took my car for initial servicing), the only explanation I ever heard for the change to black was in memoriam to Jim Clark's passing. (As an aside, I remember being impressed by the initial 500 mile service (Rob Walker) involving an extensive and thorough, almost rebuild, to ensure the integrity of the factory build. There were inevitable loose bolts and such. They replaced my leaking master cylinder reservoir - that persists to this day! The highlight upon picking up my car at Rob Walker in the evening was a very fast spin, the mechanic driving, through the local English countryside amongst the hedgerows at speeds in excess of 100mph - in another car - not my own). Ah, foolish youth!

The conjectures about crashworthiness of the original badge makes no sense - I don't believe the badge shards would be of much concern compared to all the other bits (glass, fiberglass, metal) generated in a crash. Also, black being chosen to match interiors doesn't hold much water either IMHO.
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PostPost by: tvacc » Fri Nov 13, 2015 6:25 pm

I have posted this before. At one of the Lotus Owners Gatherings here in the USA, we had one of the Lotus factory guys speak. I cannot remember which one, maybe it was Graham, maybe someone else. but one of his jobs was ordering replacement assembly line parts. This is almost a verbatim response to our question about the black badge. There were others standing there with me, so maybe someday I can get someone to confirm this story.
He said that he noticed they were running out of badges. He was told by Colin to get a quote on new badges. So he sent out a few requests and included doing in with no colors. He said when the quotes came back, he presented them to Colin and the black badge was cheaper (and here is where I remember the exact words) "and the old man of course really liked that" (that is was cheaper.)

He then said, it had no correlation to anything other than it was just cheaper to order and produce.

Now I know that someone in the factory today has said publically that it was due to Clarks death, but I have to go with the words of the guy that did the ordering. I wish I remember which guy it was. I am certain I can narrow down to about 2 or 3 guys (maybe even one) if I look at who the speakers were from like 1988-1993 when I recall it happened. I am trying to recall if my friend that passed in 1993 was one of the guys in the circle when we were talking after the banquet on Saturday night.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 6:44 pm

I too have heard that this story of costs is what happened at the time. It was pure coincidence that Jim Clark died around the same time as the badges were ordered in.

I've also heard that Colin went on to not like the black badges - or was that black cars!

Tim

PS The black badge saga is one that I suspect Graham Arnold liked to spice up and change each time he was asked about it.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Fri Nov 13, 2015 6:50 pm

You would think though if the Black badge was removed because Mr Chapman didn't like them why did they carry on using them inside the car?

That all said if you scan through old brochure's none of the Sprint's had Black badges on (including the red S4-Sprint brochure that went to print about 1970ish) and skipping on the 1977 Eclat was the next one to have a Black badge. That is a little confusing because if Colin Chapman had not liked the Black badge then why did it resurface? (have to admit i don't remember ever seeing a Black Lotus badge on the F1 cars Chapman really cared about) and no F1 drivers died that year (to my knowledge) which would throw a spanner in the Jim Clark theory? Maybe it was as simple as trying some thing different?
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PostPost by: tvacc » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:28 pm

It may have been Graham Arnold that told us that. Like I said, I would have to go back through old LOG books to see who our speakers were then. In 87 we had Innes Ireland. In 89, I think it was Annapolis and Mike Costin. I know we had Graham there sometime around then and Fred Bushnell, but Fred may have been mid 90"s. There have been so many. But this was someone who was at the top reporting right to Chapman. And we were all laughing about how "the old man" would certainly liked the cheaper cost.
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PostPost by: stevebroad » Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:00 pm

I think this is one of those questions, alongside the origin of the Lotus name, that will never be definitively answered.
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PostPost by: tvacc » Fri Nov 13, 2015 11:18 pm

Sorry, but I disagree as far a I am concerned. To have the guy that actually submitted the bids, and order the badges with the approval of Chapman sort of puts this in the realm of truth for me. Of course anyone can and will dispute my story but as for me, I heard what I heard.And I have no reason to doubt him. I doubt he was making this up.
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