Lotus Elan

40th anniversary of the death of Colin Chapman

PostPost by: ClassicLotus » Fri Dec 16, 2022 11:52 am

40 years ago, on December 16th, 1982, Colin Capman suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 54.
I am sure the automotive as well as the motorsport world would look different today without him.

For me personally, his genius and commitment to his own principles have always been inspiring.
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Fri Dec 16, 2022 2:38 pm

I have always been a Chapman fan - for his engineering principles.

As for his personal principles, while much is speculation, it has been suggested that his moral compass didn't always point north.

https://www.thedrive.com/news/44570/why-some-people-think-lotus-founder-colin-chapman-faked-his-death
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Fri Dec 16, 2022 2:55 pm

Linking to a recent thread about 'chatGPT', and given the anniversary of Colin's death, I asked chatGPT if it knew of Colin Chapman. Its repy:

Yes, Colin Chapman was a British engineer and entrepreneur who is best known as the founder and chief designer of Lotus Cars, a company that was known for its innovative and high-performance sports cars. Chapman was born in 1928 and studied structural engineering at University College London before establishing Lotus in 1952. He was renowned for his ability to design and build lightweight and aerodynamic vehicles that were able to achieve high levels of performance and handling. Chapman's contributions to the world of automotive engineering and design have had a lasting impact, and he is considered one of the most influential figures in the history of motorsports.

Its a pretty good summary.
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PostPost by: ajwheels » Fri Dec 16, 2022 7:26 pm

Ever since I was a kid and started reading the magazines, Lotus was the car, and Chapman was the man.....and having Clark in there too was just the best.....I suspect that I would be just a bit different having not experienced that history....
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PostPost by: Slowtus » Fri Dec 16, 2022 8:52 pm

"As for his personal principles, while much is speculation, it has been suggested that his moral compass didn't always point north.

Gossip unless facts are available.
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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Fri Dec 16, 2022 9:29 pm

40 years…. I too remember it, coming home from school for my Mum to give me the news. I think it was on the BBC news so reasonably high profile.

As to his legacy, good or bad, I think we can all see the highs and lows.

I think it was Fred Bushell or Tony Rudd who described ACBC as being both Lotus’ greatest strength and greatest weakness.

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PostPost by: mark030358 » Fri Dec 16, 2022 10:20 pm

From what I have read over the years, to me he was probably the greatest innovator motorsport has ever seen. With fantastic ideas and concepts made in to reality by a highly skilled team of engineers aka Rudd, Duckworth, Costain, Hickman et al...

RIP
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PostPost by: billwill » Fri Dec 16, 2022 11:41 pm

I don't think there was a "Structural Engineering" course at UCL, So it would have been either "Civil Engineering" or "Mechanical Engineering", I think the latter is more likely.

I did "Electrical Engineering" at UCL, but in any case for all engineering students the first two years were general engineering, encompassing, Mechanical, Electrical and (I think) Civil Engineering, excluding "Chemical Engineering. It was a long time ago, but I probably did the same lab work on engines as Chapman did and though it was quite a few years after Chapman, we probably were still using the same lab engine for how-to-do basic measurements of torque and chamber pressure cycles etc. We used a "smoked glass" disk on the distributor shaft and an exposed pressure gauge 'needle' for the latter test.
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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Sat Dec 17, 2022 12:02 am

mark030358 wrote:From what I have read over the years, to me he was probably the greatest innovator motorsport has ever seen. With fantastic ideas and concepts made in to reality by a highly skilled team of engineers aka Rudd, Duckworth, Costain, Hickman et al...

RIP


Duckworth just a highly skilled member of the engineering team!! - beg to differ but I think Duckworth's contribution to automotive technology was at least if not more important as Chapman's.
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Sat Dec 17, 2022 3:32 am

According to "Colin Chapman A Man and His Cars" by Jabby Crombac, - Chapman graduated with a degree in civil engineering (Chapter 2). He also flew with the University Air Squadron and read everything he could get his hands on about aircraft design and construction. His second job was with British Aluminum as a sales person.

Hazel was the first to recognize that "this is a chap that's going somewhere" when they were in school.
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Sat Dec 17, 2022 10:31 am

Slowtus wrote:"As for his personal principles, while much is speculation, it has been suggested that his moral compass didn't always point north.

Gossip unless facts are available.

I agree with you comments, however there does seem to be some real question marks about the DeLorean affair.

Quoting 'Colin Chapman: Wayward genius' by Mike Lawrence p241

12 July 1989: Fred Bushell, Chapman's right hand man for more than 30 years, is arrested and charged that he conspired with Chapman, DeLorean and others to defraud the DeLorean motor company of $17.76 million. John DeLorean, it is alleged, received $8.5 million; Chapman's share was $8.39 million; Bushell received one 10th of what Chapman received.

20th June 1992: Bushell is sentenced to three years imprisonment and a fine of $2.25 million at Belfast Crown court. In sentencing him, Lord Justice Murray says that if the other people on the charge sheet with Bushell had stood in the dock - Chapman and DeLorean - they would have received at least 10 years imprisonment.
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PostPost by: mark030358 » Sat Dec 17, 2022 10:44 pm

2cams70 wrote:
mark030358 wrote:From what I have read over the years, to me he was probably the greatest innovator motorsport has ever seen. With fantastic ideas and concepts made in to reality by a highly skilled team of engineers aka Rudd, Duckworth, Costain, Hickman et al...

RIP


Duckworth just a highly skilled member of the engineering team!! - beg to differ but I think Duckworth's contribution to automotive technology was at least if not more important as Chapman's.


I guess I need to do more reading :cry:

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PostPost by: HCA » Sun Dec 18, 2022 9:26 am

I too grew up in awe of Lotus’ rise and Chapman’s influence on motorsport. I can even say that it was he - with his pioneering idea of bringing in tobacco sponsorship - was the trigger to my taking up smoking! Luckily though, I saw its futility before it killed me!

I am a great one on conspiracy theories, and in the case of Chapman do not believe for a minute that he died at 54, rather, he went on a lot longer living in South America. The romantic in me had him still involved in remote consultancy to motor sport and love to speculate who this might have been with.

I am surprised that a movie mogul has never picked up on creating a full series on his life. Everything is there for a captivating story - entrepreneur, motor racing, glamour, women, money and a fast life style etc. But all we get is Harry and Meg (yawn yawn) and a tortue of tortures, Sky’s account of Branson..
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PostPost by: JimE » Sun Dec 18, 2022 8:49 pm

Came across him at Hethel in May 1982 when he was admiring my 1974 +2 which had just been repainted and retrimmed by the Service Garage.
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PostPost by: Plus2Elan » Mon Dec 19, 2022 4:44 pm

There are few people who can garner the kind of respect that Colin Chapman expected from his contemporaries. A man with a vision and drive that outshone almost everyone, certainly everyone involved in the Motor racing and motor car industries in the 1960's and 70's. He was a giant of innovation and incomparable as an ideas person. I only saw him once, invited to Hethel in 1980. Cindy Curl (honestly) was his secretary and she wrote to me to visit. As I did, Mr Chapman walked through the foyer. I was speechless and regretfully never even said hello! Colin Chapman is a giant in his chosen field, but I reckon that whatever he had elected to do, he would have mastered. The son of a pub owner in Tottenham. Surely this is inspiration for all of our young people today. What Chapman achieved is not beyond anyone with the fire and enthusiasm to live out a dream. From the ashes of a wartorn destitute Britain, offering millions a taste of a very different world. Thank you ACBC.
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