Lotus Elan

Black Badges did commemorate Jim Clark.

PostPost by: Sadbrewer » Fri May 10, 2024 10:08 pm

That is my view at least.
Being born and brought up in the motor trade by a Lotus enthusiast father, owning our Elan in the 70’s we ‘knew’ that black badges were fitted to commemorate Jim Clark following his death at Hockenheim on the 7th of April 1968.
It came as quite a surprise on joining the internet forums almost 50 years later for me to find that this ‘knowledge’ was now in dispute...apparently due to Graham Arnold’s talks to Club Lotus meetings in which it is reported on various forums that GA told the gathering that it was simply down to a shortage of green/yellow badges and that Graham reported black was cheaper and Colin Chapman liked that... and also his 2001 position statement… 'Black Badge Baloney’… below.

‘’ I will explain at length how black badges came about. You would be right in one respect that John Berry ( Home Sales) suggested that we should do this after Jim Clark died. Martin Long Purchasing Manager , ordered six because we at that time starting down the road with John Player towards the then secret black & gold JPS deal. At the same time I was still insisting on breaking the rules and Running black cars for my own use. Colin ordered me to stop as this was not a production colour. So I loaded the line with twenty black elans with red interiors.
These all needed black badges. When John suggested the black badge to Colin he replied 'how many of the old green and yellow do we have?' When told it ran into thousands all talk on those lines ceased. Then we submitted an Elan for US crash testing and the old badge exploded into razor sharp shards of enamel. When the black badges were tested they were of a softer material and presented no problems. Soon all US cars had black badges and these spread across the range eventually. At NO TIME did a black badge commemorate anything- except that they were safer than green and yellow and that John Berry had hoped that we would emulate Rolls Royce after Rolls was killed.’’

I found elements of the pieces contradictory and decided to try and determine the facts using evidence already reported elsewhere in the various forums, with contemporary accounts from the recently available newspaper archives coupled with evidence from people who were at the heart of Lotus at the time.
Fortunately Hethel had a youthful workforce, and despite the events being over half a century ago, many key people are still around.

My conclusions.
1) Lotus communicated press releases in August 1968 to the news outlets, both national and provincial..From The Daily Mirror, Britain’s biggest selling national newspaper of the day... to the Scots/ Northern Irish press…now available through the online British Newspaper Archive, confirming that the black badge was to commemorate Jim Clark.
Snap 2024-05-10 at 19.43.14.png and

From The Lurgan Mail, August 1968, an Ulster paper
that carried many Lotus press releases. Also The Lothian Courier
Snap 2024-05-10 at 20.18.03.png and

2) I have contacted Malcolm Ginsberg , Lotus’ Director of Press & Publicity in 1968.
Malcolm reported on motor racing for Autosport, the motor sport weekly. He caught the eye of
Colin Chapman and was invited by Lotus Cars (at the time World Motor Racing Champions) to become press officer and publicity manager. In 1973 he founded Malcolm Ginsberg Associates (MGA), public relations consultants, with Moonraker Boats (owned by Colin Chapman).
Mr Ginsberg said ‘’ the Black Badge should only be associated with Jim Clark’’.

3) An already well known article by Eoin Young, from his ‘Straight from the Grid’ column in The Autocar of August 1968. Young was a close friend of Jim Clark, touring the motor racing circuit together for years.
Eoin was an invitee to Jim’s funeral, flying back from France to attend.
The photo from Young’s 1996 book ‘It Beats Working’ shows the closeness of their friendship.
Jim clowning about with Eoin’s hat at Teretonga during the 1965 Tasman series.
Snap 2024-05-10 at 13.04.10.png and


4) Another already documented account written in 2007 by Nick Fulcher.
Nick began his career at Lotus making Graham Hill’s racing overalls, he rose to become Head of the Trim Dept on the Esprit project.
‘’I just thought you might like like to know..... After the tragic death of Jim Clark, Colin Chapman was truly devastated as was the rest of the Team Lotus and Lotus Cars personnel,. Colin Chapman ordered a batch of Black & Silver Badges to put on all Formula 1 and production cars as a mark of respect to the Great Driver. This took about 2 months to happen from conception to implementation. This mark of respect was then used further with the death of Jochen Rindt and then Mr Chapman himself.
I hope that this throws some light on your queries, thoughts, myths etc.’’

5) Although a second hand account, the 2010 evidence of Mike Kimberley, former Lotus CEO should carry some weight.
‘’The Black and Silver nose badge was first used, I was told by Colin himself, to respect the death of Jimmy Clark, I didn't join Lotus until September 1969 from Jaguar, so have to rely on what he told me. When Ronnie died in that Milano hospital, I got Colin's OK to use it again ,out of respect to Ronnie, for production-including clothing/Accessories/Lapel pins-out,etc.
We then never stopped it as it made a good colour match for some shades of paint. It's not cheaper to make-and is not the official Corporate Lotus Colour.
Hope this helps!!’’

6) John Berry, Lotus team driver and Lotus Home Sales Director in 1968.
After being one of those named in Graham Arnold’s ‘Black Badge Baloney’ position statement back in 2001 I contacted John for his opinion on the piece.
‘’Thanks for your question re Black Badges..
Colin and I had a close relationship. Our respective families frequently “holidayed” together, usually skiing, often chilling out in the Chapman Villa in Ibiza on the way back home to the UK.
Graham Arnolds’ version is pure imagination, a true “Arnoldism”.
I was skiing in Vilars when Jerry Juan, Swiss Lotus Dealer based in Geneva, phoned me at my hotel to tell me that Jim Clark had a fatal crash while racing.
Upon returning to Hethel, I immediately approached Colin to offer my condolences re Jim’s death. I also asked Colin whether he would think it a good idea to produce a limited number of Jim Clark commemorative Elans with black badges. Colin simply said “do it, John, go and tell Martin Long”. Now, my conversation with Colin was impromptu, no others present or within earshot. Indeed, Graham Arnold was not involved and has not ever said he was part of that conversation. So, how then was Graham able to quote Colin as asking “how many green and yellow badges do we have in stock” ..(neither would Colin be guilty of such a small minded response).
John’’

7) With the kind assistance of John Elwin, highly respected motoring writer and Sales manager at Hethel from 1970, Martin Long, the other person referenced in ‘Black Badge Baloney’ has been contacted.
John Elwin’s email to me.
‘’Hi Andy, I've been in touch with Martin Long.
He recalls that after Jim Clark's death Colin Chapman decreed that all Lotus badges (inc. steering
wheel & even lapel badges, cuff links etc) should be black with immediate effect. As Chief Buyer,
Martin was tasked with the job, & with suppliers Fattorini in Birmingham, managed to come up with the goods in two weeks.
As far as he remembers, that continued for a year, but of course there was later production after Martin moved on.
He suggests that Fattorini's may have some records, but after all this time...
Kind regards
JOHN’’.

But what of GA’s assertions to the contrary...The first question must be which one of Graham’s stories?
Although I never heard him say this at Club Lotus meetings myself, it seems agreed that others heard the account that the ‘factory was running short of badges and that on being told black was cheaper, Colin liked that,’ and that was the reason for the black badge.
Martin Long has stated he was Head of Purchasing and makes no reference to ordering Black Badges prior to Colin Chapman’s express orders for commemorative badges after Clark’s death.
GA then said in Black Badge Baloney that there were thousands of Green/Yellow in stock...a shortage of badges in one statement and thousands in stock in his position statement? ...both cannot be true and no-one from the time has corroborated that story.
As to the earlier use of badges, Roger Putnam (sales director after GA left Lotus in 1970) has said by email to me...’’I cannot be sure but I think a small run of black badges were fitted in 1967/8. I am also sure it was Graham Arnold’s initiative rather than Colin or Fred.’’ ( Bushell)..
In my view that explains the small number of pre Clark badges that GA confirmed Colin Chapman told him to cease using.
Interestingly however, Roger also said ‘’The enamelling on the green and yellow badges was prone to crack and I used to have an example of a damaged badge which has long since disappeared. I think some of them even delaminated on the way to the production line.’’...albeit with no mention of damage in US Federal crash testing.
Graham’s case in Black Badge Baloney was based on the fact that US testing took place after Jim Clark was killed, however his memory seems to have let him down.
According to contemporary press reports now available from The British Newspaper Archive, that is incorrect.
Lotus’ press releases appeared in the newspapers on 23rd March 1968… before Clark’s death, stating that following 12 months of work, Lotus had already passed crash testing at the first attempt. Had there been a problem with shattering enamel It must have been resolved sometime in the 12 months before Clark was killed.
From The Ulster Star 23rd March 1968.
Snap 2024-05-10 at 22.29.12.png and

It appears there have been claims in later years that cars with black badges were somehow ‘Special Edition’ models, with added cache and value, carrying a premium, I can find nothing to support that, no factory press releases or advertisements, and certainly no employee corroboration. I consider it a disrespectful myth.
In August of 1968, Colin Chapman featured in the BBC2 documentary ‘Millionaire’, during the Interview Chapman says.. ‘’I did get very very close to Jim Clark, I would say he was my best friend...the best friend I ever had’.
It is clear that the Black Badge reflects the thoughts expressed by Colin Chapman to the BBC, and that the evidence confirms that unequivocally… a simple mark of respect on every car.

I’d like to thank those former Lotus employees that took the time and trouble to kindly assist me and hope the above work resolves the matter.

Andy Pickering
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PostPost by: trw99 » Sat May 11, 2024 6:33 am

Thanks Andy for the research you’ve carried out for this interesting and detailed account.

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PostPost by: John Larkin » Sat May 11, 2024 9:07 am

Thanks Andy. This makes very interesting reading. Graham Arnold gave me the same account of the black badge story.

It pleases me that the black badges are more likely to have been a tribute to Jim Clark.

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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Sat May 11, 2024 3:36 pm

Thanks Andy. A well reasoned account!

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat May 11, 2024 5:31 pm

This copy of the test of Graham Arnolds 'sales demo' car certainly shows that the black badge was made and used by Lotus before Jimmy's death, supporting Grahams account of when and why the badges were created. I have no doubt that they were used after his death to commemorate, but here is a photo of an Elan fitted with the badge at the factory in an article dated April 5th 1968, 2 days prior to the fatal accident.

The concept / design of the black badge wasn't new in 1968, as the design was completed for the Lotus Cortina steering wheel by the launch of the Aeroflow model in September 1964, with Elans also using black badges in the gear knob and steering wheel in 1967.
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PostPost by: Sadbrewer » Sat May 11, 2024 8:26 pm

Thanks for that Mark, but I think it's covered in the piece...Roger Putnam has told us GA had a small number of badges made for his 'own' cars, ( which is most probably in that photo) GA told us in 'Black Badge Baloney' that Colin instructed him not to use them again. So not 'used by Lotus'.
The bulk buying for the commemorative badges was done from Fattorini's by Head Buyer Martin Long on express instructions from Chapman.. following the initial suggestion by John Berry. The facts according to GA are initially consistent with Roger Putnam's account and tell us he did have a small number of badges, but GA then says that after Clarks death the green/yellow failed federal testing ( with thousands being in stock) and black was adopted to replace them...but that can't be true as the factory press release tells us US testing was conducted and passed in the 12 months before Jim was killed....neither is that story consistent with GA's contradictory assertion from other sources that he told people it was only about acquiring cheap badges when stock was running out,
If you read the piece again Martin Long and John Berry tell us clearly they were ordered and fitted to commemorate Clark.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat May 11, 2024 9:29 pm

I think that the point this raises is that black badges weren't created to commemorate the death of Jim Clark as they had been around for quite a while before the accident. It would have taken a simple phone call and a purchase order to obtain more badges from the source that Graham had design and put into production a year or so earlier.

I had discussed these badges with Graham back in late 1977, when I turned up to a meeting in my S3 which had two of them fitted onto the flanks, much as the Lotus Cortina had. He looked over the car with interest, saying that, of course, they had been fitted retrospectively, and told me the story of his black demo car in the Autosport write-up.

Whist he was a great raconteur and after dinner speaker, he was also extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Elan and the Lotus Cortina. There were few of us in those days who had an interest in both of those cars, so we had quite a few chats, usually with a bottle or two of red, about these cars. With a group of just a couple of genuine enthusiasts, he was extremely giving of his information. One session in particular I remember was with Miles Wilkins, Jem Marsh, Graham and a couple of us mere members, where detailed discussions were taking place about the development of the Elan. Grahams experiences were being examined in forensic detail by Miles and Jem, and I only wish I had recorded the session! But overall, my experience of Graham was of a chap who really knew his stuff, and if the audience were serious about learning about the history of the cars, he would rise to the occasion. Much the same with Miles really!

So I really don't think that he made up the story about the creation of the badges, as I heard it back in the 1970s as an illustration of how he would frequently annoy Colin Chapman. Graham wasn't one to 'big himself' up in the historical context, and indeed, if he did, then he would surely have claimed to have thought up the idea of using them to commemorate Jimmy's death.

The facts are that they existed long before Jim Clarks accident, and there was a manufacturing facility that had the design and equipment to make them. Whilst they were fitted to Elans for a couple of years, and not just a small 'commemorative' run, I have no doubt that they were used to commemorate the death of Jim Clark, at least initially.

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PostPost by: Sadbrewer » Sun May 12, 2024 12:20 am

Hi Mark...do you accept PM's?
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Sun May 12, 2024 5:55 am

The logic in the OP's post is well reasoned but I think misses the point of the debate.

I doubt anyone will argue that black badges were used on Elans for a short period following Clark's death, it's well documented. It's also documented that black/chrome badges were used on cars prior to Clark's death.

I bought my Elan in the mid 70s, joined Club Lotus and apart from the newsletters we also went to CL days where Graham would chatter to anyone about anything. At the time I didn't know who he was or what he'd done with Lotus, just someone who seemed to know a lot about Elans. So I've also heard his side of the black badge story first hand although I don't recall comments about green/yellow badges shattering during tests for the USA cars..

I think Mark sums it up -

Elanintheforest wrote:The concept / design of the black badge wasn't new in 1968, as the design was completed for the Lotus Cortina steering wheel by the launch of the Aeroflow model in September 1964, with Elans also using black badges in the gear knob and steering wheel in 1967.
Mark


We're debating semantics.

The badge was used following Cark's death but as Mark points out above it clearly wasn't created for that purpose.

The average journalist of the time probably paid no attention to the Lotus badge until one was in front of them. Or the fact the Elan steering wheel had a black badge and GA fancied the idea of a matching badge on the front of his company car.

The journalist would see a touching gesture by Lotus of changing green/yellow for black/chrome and a press release from Lotus. It's quite easy to imagine that turning into the story of a badge being designed especially to commemorate Jim Clark. It goes into print, over time becomes accepted as fact and 50yrs later enthusiasts are divided on it !

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sun May 12, 2024 7:04 am

Yes this is debating semantics. Clearly the colour black was not created by Graham Arnold. He clearly previously used black badges as a marketing gimmick. However it is also quite clear that they were used as a commemorative badge on Elans for Jim Clark, dimisssing all the myths about them being cheaper or Lotus running out of green and yellow badges or the green and yellow badges not passing crash tests. Why GA avoided that fact I guess we will never know but probably because he had a disagreement with Chapman about it

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sun May 12, 2024 8:58 am

Sadbrewer wrote:Hi Mark...do you accept PM's?

Of course!
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PostPost by: SENC » Sun May 12, 2024 1:02 pm

Very nice research and summary, Andy, thank you for sharing. I'm swayed back to the commemoration camp!

rgh0 wrote:Yes this is debating semantics. Clearly the colour black was not created by Graham Arnold. He clearly previously used black badges as a marketing gimmick. However it is also quite clear that they were used as a commemorative badge on Elans for Jim Clark, dimisssing all the myths about them being cheaper or Lotus running out of green and yellow badges or the green and yellow badges not passing crash tests. Why GA avoided that fact I guess we will never know but probably because he had a disagreement with Chapman about it

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I came to the same conclusion after reading some of the responses that seemed as if they wanted to contradict the OP - but reading the specific words they chose I'm not sure there isn't alignment. It seems to me the OP and all responders to date agree on the following points:
1 - the black badge design was created in the years prior to Jim Clark's death, and used (officially or unofficially) in small quantities pre 68; and
2 - after his death, a large run of black badges were ordered for use on ALL Elans in commemoration of Jim Clark.

Have I misinterpreted anyone's comments or belief?
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PostPost by: Lotus54 » Sun May 12, 2024 1:37 pm

My 66 Elan has a black horn button. From a post earlier, it seems that they came with black ones for 66-67?

The clear plastic has lots of internal cracks, I would like to replace. So to use black, or yellow?

BTW, my 66 Lotus Cortina I bought in 1974 had a black horn button (yellow everywhere else). I think it was likely original (but do not know of course).

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PostPost by: Sadbrewer » Mon May 13, 2024 12:14 am

SENC wrote:Very nice research and summary, Andy, thank you for sharing. I'm swayed back to the commemoration camp!

rgh0 wrote:Yes this is debating semantics. Clearly the colour black was not created by Graham Arnold. He clearly previously used black badges as a marketing gimmick. However it is also quite clear that they were used as a commemorative badge on Elans for Jim Clark, dimisssing all the myths about them being cheaper or Lotus running out of green and yellow badges or the green and yellow badges not passing crash tests. Why GA avoided that fact I guess we will never know but probably because he had a disagreement with Chapman about it

cheers
Rohan
1968 Elan S4 Black Badge


I came to the same conclusion after reading some of the responses that seemed as if they wanted to contradict the OP - but reading the specific words they chose I'm not sure there isn't alignment. It seems to me the OP and all responders to date agree on the following points:
1 - the black badge design was created in the years prior to Jim Clark's death, and used (officially or unofficially) in small quantities pre 68; and
2 - after his death, a large run of black badges were ordered for use on ALL Elans in commemoration of Jim Clark.

Have I misinterpreted anyone's comments or belief?


Certainly from my point of view that's a fair assessment...every word in the piece is verified by factory press release and/ or verification from the most senior people involved still around today...none of it is opinion or speculation.

Graham's account, if we take it at face value is that his badges were unofficial and banned by Colin Chapman when he heard about them, ( No-one else suggests 'Official' black nose badges at all prior to Clark's death as far as I know.).
Roger Putnam has verified that Graham did have a small number of black badges for his own use, we must accept that as factual. Graham said he had 20 Black Elans (no more) put on the line that required black badges...it appears one of those black Elans featured in the Autocar piece shown above ( I had recognised that and perhaps should have mentioned that tbf) he also tells us his 'own' cars had black badges,,,,if GA had a new car every year from the Elan being introduced plus the 20 he says he put on the line it gives us no more than 26 unofficial badges from 1962-68. (a few more if he had two or more cars per year)
What Ford did on the Lotus Cortina is irrelevant, the senior partner or customer will get what they ask for...horn buttons and gearstick logo's are also not relevant ( purely speculative as no Lotus person, GA included... has ever suggested such a reason) to the case of Black nose badges across the board in memory of Clark's death in April 1968....for it is that tragedy and that alone that was being disputed by GA's contradictory arguments.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Mon May 13, 2024 8:02 am

Ford didn't do anything towards the design of the black Lotus badge for use on the Lotus Cortina...the badge is Lotus copyright! The point there is that the black badge was designed back in 1964, and by Lotus!

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