Tag Archives: 14

Designed By An Accountant #2 – Lotus Elite

After he had finished with his Lotus VI PGP182 complete with a body of his own design Peter Kirwan Taylor purchased one of the last Doretti sports cars and ‘took the back off’ and turned it into a Coupé too meet his needs.

Lotus Elite, Castle Combe

A couple of years later he was talking to Peter Lumsden and Paul Fletcher who planned on compete at Le Mans in 1956 with a Lotus XI and he suggested that they might fair better with a Coupé body. Peter K-T put the idea to Colin Chapman who responded that they would be better starting with a fresh design from scratch with the idea of designing of designing a car that would be competitive on the race track and be a viable proposition for ‘driving to the office’.

Lotus Elite, Castle Combe

As on his special bodied Lotus VI Peter again opted for designing a car with a high waist line but now with an integral roof influenced by the design of his Doretti Coupé, the design was finalised in collaboration with Frank Costin, who not only had developed a special bodied Lotus Mark VIII but was also an aerodynamicist at the aircraft manufacturer de Havilland where Peter coincidentally was also working in his day time capacity as an accountant.

Lotus Elite, Castle Combe

The uncluttered design has a drag coefficient of just 0.29 that compares favourably with vehicles being designed and manufactured today. The Elite, as the new Mark 14 became known, features a glass fibre monocoque with a steel sub frame to carry the engine and front suspension. Power came from a 75 hp Coventry Climax four cylinder engine which was inclined to lower the bonnet / hood line.

Lotus Elite, Castle Combe

On the track the Elite was a huge success with six class wins scored at Le Mans, two of them including winning the Index of Thermal Efficiency, former ESPN commentator David Hobbs fitted his with a special 4 speed automatic gearbox took 15 wins from 18 starts during 1961 and ’62 and in the Antipodes Leo Geoghegan won the 1960 Australian GT championship also driving an Elite.

Lotus Elite, Castle Combe

This particular well known example, seen here at Castle Combe, was first registered in 1962 and now belongs to a fellow member of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club who restored it after it had been lying in bits for 20 years.

Thanks for joining me on this second accountants edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at an award winning orange movie star. Don’t forget to come back now !


La Machine – #17 Vollstedt – Offenhauser 77

As I have blogged elsewhere in 1978 the USAC Championship came to England and I was lucky enough to see the one of the two championship races at Silverstone and meet some of those involved at a meet and greet at Jubilee Gardens on the banks of the Thames in Central London.

Vollstedt Offy 77, Jubilee Gardens

One of the enduring memories of those two events was seeing the striking lines of Rolla Vollstedts #17 La Machine – Vollstedt – Offenhauser 77, to my mind one of the most visually arresting open wheelers ever built, one that has a place of special veneration reserved at the top table in Art Tidesco’s Automotive Temple of Speed.

Vollstedt Offy 77, Silverstone

1960 US Olympic Team Skiing alternate Dick Simon was the driver of the immaculately turned out Vollstedt. Simon’s best finish in 1978 was 4th at Phoenix he also scored three further top tens finishing the season 18th in the Champ Car Series standings.

Vollstedt Offy 77, Jubilee Gardens

The master mind behind the car was Rolla Vollstedt, a man with more stories to tell than I’ll ever have hot dinners. Rolla has been devoting his life to racing since 1937 when he took part in unsanctioned Oregon street races with a Buick Coupé in 1937.

Working with modest budgets among Rolla’s many achievements since starting his team in 1947 are building the first rear engined Offenhauser powered Indycar complete with rear wing to improve traction and counting the legendary Jim Clark, in 1967, along with Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indy 500 among the drivers of his Championship cars. Rolla was also the last owner to attempt to qualify an Offenhauser powered for the Indy 500 in 1983.

I would like take this opportunity to wish Rolla a happy 93rd Birthday Day and thank him for building one of the most alluring automobiles it has ever been my privilege to see.

Thanks for joining me on Rolla Vollstedt’s Birthday edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’, I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !


Off The M4 – Atwell Wilson Motor Museum

For several years now every month I have been making a trip up to London to go and see my folks, on the way back no matter what time of day I frequently find myself in a traffic jam some where around J18 on the M4 which could add anything up to an hour on my normal 2 hour journey time.

Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

About 18 months ago forewarned, by a big new electric message board on the M4, of an impending jam between Junction 18 and 20 I took a detour and followed the A338 from Junction 14 down to Upper Eddington and then followed the A4 west to Bristol.

Buick, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

Going through Calne I passed a sign for a Motor Museum, 18 months later with a little time on my hands I managed to follow the sign about a mile down Stockley Lane and on the left I found the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum.

Lea Francis, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

Entrance is an unbelievably low £5 and within were over 100 2, 3, 4 wheeled vehicles, and one soon to depart 6 wheel World War 2 AEC RAF Refuelling Tanker.

Morris 8, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

The collection can broadly be divided into vintage and classic mass production vehicles with a particularly interesting collection of Limousines both British and American which are available at very reasonable rates for wedding hire.

Nash Statesman Super, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

The Atwell Wilson Museum was founded by Richard and Hasel Atwell, who lived in Wiltshire all of their lives, in 1962 they started collecting vehicles with a local connection and maintaining them in a road worthy condition. Richard passed away last year, the Museum that has grown out of the collection is run by 15 volunteers.

Plymouth Fury, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

On the weekend of July 9th and 10th the museum will be hosting a classic car weekend, if you have a classic car, or even if you don’t but would like to attend call 01249 813119 or e-mail enquiries@atwellwilson.org.uk for details. I shall look forward to attending on one of the two days.

Thanks for popping by today’s Atwell – Wilson edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a closer look at the Atwell – Wilsons 1962 Plymouth Fury. Don’t for get to come back now !