Lotus Elan

ORIGIN OF THE NAME "LOTUS" Part II

PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:27 pm

Back in July 1999 the following exchange took place on the forum and I fancied bumping it back to 2011. Unfortunately there is no 'Reply' available at the end of the listing, so you can either read it in full here, elan-archive-f16/origin-the-name-lotus-t2459.html or read by precis below:

"I seem to remember seeing a film about Chapman which proposed that the name came from Lotus, a ladies shoes manufacturing company, which Hazel happened to take an interest in when out window shopping. It was suggested that as the name was not original, and in any case associated with ladies shoes, Chapman was reluctant to explain the origin. How did Lotus software get the name subsequently ?
Sean Murray
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A year ago Rod and I corresponded on the origin of the name "Lotus" -- a topic that apparently recurs at least once a year. I hope that means there are always new enthusiasts in the fold. Anyway, my small contribution to the long list of theories follows:

I was reading my first issues of Historic Lotus Register (definitely wonderful reading) and learn that, on the dashboard of a Lotus VI (Jon Derisley's 35-SNK 6, to be exact) in 1954, a plaque read:

"Time driveth onwards fast."

The quotation of course is from Tennyson in his work "The Lotus Eaters." The source of the Lotus name? Perhaps,. perhaps not. But certainly a more romantic explanation than brands of shoes or bicycles.
Andres
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Ah yes, Andres, I'd much rather believe this one (but can't help thinking that, had it been true, it wouldn't have remained so mysterious all these years). Yes, I choose to believe it. In a couple of decades, it will be the only plausible version left.
Rod

Chapman himself wrote in 1954:

The first car was basically an Austin 7 chassis and engine, it was called a Lotus too but I am not going to tell you why. I have been asked many times the origin of the name of my cars but that cannot be divulged for several years. It is one of those things, rather like the chap who will never tell you why his friends call him "Stinker".

This is from a 4 part article entitled "The Lotus story", published in the magazine Motor Racing from Nov 1954 to Feb 1955.

OK, so we know from this that it's something embarrassing to Chapman, but not so bad that he was never going to reveal it. One possibility is the theory that I don't think made the Lotus FAQ, and that is that one of Chunky's favourite phrases was "Us lot", and that this was reversed to make the name of the car.

One day maybe someone will fill Hazel with gin and find out.....
Mike

Lotus were written up a lot in the 50s motoring/racing magazines and only the long features have made it to Brooklands reprints series. I would guess it had a lot to do with most motoring journalists of the time having an engineering background and Chapman certainly supplied them with things to write about. One autojumble find had a photo and mini-article about a diff oil cooler fitted to UPE 6 (Chapman's IX). Apparently it came off a few weeks later because it didn't work. (I'd happily scan what I have, but I don't have a scanner and we just moved, so the magazines are *somewhere*.)

Also, Chapman's genius must have been very attractive to an engineering oriented journalist. I owned a VI for a few years and never ceased to be amazed at how sophisticated the result was from its humble origins, especially when we pulled up to a Ford Pop at a stop light. No comparison!
With his kind of mind at work, who could have resisted writing about the cars?

Which reminds me of an anecdote a former 50s racer told me. Staring at the VI he said, 'Colin was always lying on the grass in that checked shirt of his with his head propped on one hand, and you'd say 'What are you doing?' and he would reply, 'Oh...thinking..."
John

Good engineers do that. That's what I tell my wife I'm doing when my she asks me to take out the garbage. There is no doubt that Chapman was an engineer's engineer, which answers a lot of questions about his personality quirks.
Paul

Yes, absolutely. I hope there is always room in the world for engineers like that. These days, there seem to be different priorities focused on near term quick results at the expense of long-term excellence. I'm sure everyone knows what I mean.

Chapman was a rare bird and we can all feel lucky to be able to drive something he had a hand in.
Rod

Absolutely!

One wonders if he would still be involved in F1, were he alive. At the time of his death he was making noises about how it had become too bureaucratic and rule oriented..."

So care to add your theory? Heard in a pub, read in a club newsletter, overhead at Donington, whatever. I especially like the Tennyson quote theory.

Tim
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:20 pm

trw99 wrote:..........one of Chunky's favourite phrases was "Us lot", and that this was reversed to make the name of the car.



That would be Lotsu Tim :wink:

Interesting, thanks for posting it. I wonder if this is another one of those things which will now remain unknown?

Can I make a plea that nobody mentions THAT acronym please :roll:
John

No longer active on here, I value my privacy.
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:33 pm

Image

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :roll:
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:02 pm

Brilliant Pete!

Don't mention the war...

Tim
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:58 pm

Oh, the utter audacity of it; engineers don't have personality quirks :shock:
'cept they wot owns Elans maybe :lol:

Anyway, what's the betting that the "unmentionable acronym" stemmed from those words when "himself" was looking at that which he had down on paper about his feelings on his early cars & had the Eureka moment to call them LOTUS :roll:
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PostPost by: sprinter55 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:13 am

Dear Pete
I love the badge 'The Incorporated Guild....' and wondered where you saw it ?
As active practitioner of perfumery would die to have it, but not for my Sprint though !
...not sure my wigmaking skills would be proficient enough to qualify me to be a member
Terry
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:35 am

sprinter55 wrote:Dear Pete
I love the badge 'The Incorporated Guild....' and wondered where you saw it ?
As active practitioner of perfumery would die to have it, but not for my Sprint though !
...not sure my wigmaking skills would be proficient enough to qualify me to be a member
Terry


E-bay! Having received some grief from my Lotus "friends" for buying a "hairdresser's car" (Audi TT quattro) I put hairdresser's car into E-bay and this came up. Evidently the Guild still exists and is run from a tiny terraced house in Barnsley! :roll:
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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:47 am

Back on topic. I seem to recall reading that the origin of the name was something to do with Colin's personal expression referring to a part of Hazels anatomy.

Possibly from Mike Lawrence's "wayward genius" book, but I don't have it to hand to check.

Rgds
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:42 am

Tim,
They all really enjoyed the biscuits that Hazels mum served up with coffee, simple as that.

lotus_logo_bar.jpg and
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:32 am

Back off topic :wink:

H. H. Sri Swami Satchidananda, founder of LOTUS

ACBC? Hah, I'm getting a HHSSS autographed steering wheel.

http://www.lotus.org/
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:35 am

richardcox_lotus wrote: the origin of the name was something to do with Colin's personal expression referring to a part of Hazels anatomy.
Richard


See, there's the genius of the man, coming up with a name that worked in both contexts. One part fulfilling two roles - exactly his philosophy.
It's stuff like that that makes you realise your own limitations. I'm a little beyond naming of parts or starting car companies these days but it did get me reflecting on the pet name a long vanished, though fondly remembered girlfriend and I used for similar purposes. The "Brenda" car company was never going to be much of a competitor. Just lack of foresight I guess :? :? :lol:

Exactly where names come from can vanish into the mists of time even when you were the person who came up with it in the first place. I recently had a old friend staying with us for a week or so. He's now based in the US but back in the late 60's /70's we used to organise trips all over Europe with a loose agglomeration of friends, known colloquially as "Pisquick Tours". Where that name came from was the subject of many discussions during his stay as I started a Pisquick Tours website a few years ago and wanted to explain the name there. The best guess was from one particular late 60's trip where a bunch of people all left work at 5.00pm on Friday and drove an old Ford Thames van down to the Mediterranean near the Spanish border, dipped their toes in the sea and drove back to start work at 9.00am Monday morning. The name came from the brief hurried nature of "comfort" stops. Or it could have come from a couple of other sources. None of us now know but the old journalistic adage of never letting the truth get in the way of a good story is probably good enough for our purposes and may well be the route followed by Lotus. :lol:
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:42 am

His Missus & Kids will know; who's going to ask :roll:
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:06 pm

I just knew that this thread would get round to DH Lawrence, sooner or later. :roll:
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PostPost by: ardee_selby » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:28 pm

elansprint71 wrote:I just knew that this thread would get round to DH Lawrence, sooner or later. :roll:


Per....origin of the name "Captain Beefheart" ? :shock:

Cheers - Richard
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