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My Trip to Birmingham...No I mean Norwich


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Whilst in for the Christmas Party I was informed to postpone one of my clients and stay an extra day in the UK. Bibs said that it would be well worth delaying the client.

How true that was. Being told the whole trip that we were on our way Birmingham it was a pleasant surprise to see the Norwich signs...lol

Upon arrival at the Lotus Factory, and a less invasive security procedure than the TSA in the US, off we were into the grounds of the hallowed grounds...Greeting our arrival was Roger Becker, James Haskey, and Guy Munday of Stratton Motor Company. What a fantastic combination of people to have met that day. Rather interesting and unique to have the opportunity to tour the plant with none other than Roger Becker. Unfortunately the fog prevented any track time and with the addition of Roger in our group I missed the opportunity to meet with Brian Angus during the time spent.

Not to have himself undone Bibs proceeded to take us on a long journey to the next destination.... Classic Team Lotus... where we were led by a lovely young lady named Sapphire whom was patient as anything giving us the complete tour. Nice to have met the many people there. One of key note interest was Jim Clarks mechanic who was still performing a restoration on a gearbox of another car. The stories he must know...

Our time ended there with an introduction to Clive Chapman and an extended peek into the vast archives of the Lotus racers original design and build sheets.

Yet still Bibs had something up his sleeve...with a few turns here and a shout out that Kimbers was nearby but we were going past him to make another close stop...the next hour and a half was spent with Nick Fulcher engaged in a wonderous conversation over a cup of tea...

Thinking that the day was to be done it yet was...Next stop was Stratton Motor Company to have a wonderful time and tour spent with Guy Munday and to meet some of his staff. One of whom, Robert Chapman Parts Manager, that I have business dealings with frequently. Upon that extended tour off we were to have the delight of a Sunday Roast made on a Monday awaiting us upon arrival in West Malling by Laura...

I have done many things and seen many places in the world thanks to my business. I must say that Monday with Bibs is in the tops of my favourite experiences...

I shall write more later as I now have to continue on for a bit...

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Christopher,

Great to hear you had a very special time in the UK, going to the actual plant where your car was made is very strange when you think about it. And only adds to the unique Lotus lifestyle, very few other manufactures offer this unless yoyu are spending serious amounts of money..

And hats off to Bibs for organising it, Sir you are a scholar and a gentleman.

Chris

Amateurs built the Ark

Professionals built the Titanic

"I haven't ridden in cars pulled by cows before" "Bullocks, Mr.Belcher" "No, I haven't, honestly"

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Christopher,

That sounds like an absolutely awesome, and unreal experience with highs..............almost everything, lows erm...............kimbers!!!! (jokin of course)

BIBS

Seriously dude you are just unreal

We are, as Lotus fans, not worthy!!!!

You are the man!!!

toby

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What other forum founder would do so much for a member? Well done Bibs! And hats off to all those involved such as Nick and Guy. Sounds like a hell of an experience.

S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE

 

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Sorry to have missed you guys. I can say that the client was understanding. I explained to them why I had delayed. I also figured trying to deceive any client, especially this one, is never the right thing to do. I got a few chuckles because I found out that one of the clients representative is a fan of the Esprit.

I must truly say that the time spent with Nick was the more comfortable stop...I mean this in the manner that it is where I felt most relaxed...Nicks workshop is a truly relaxing place. The smell of leather and the the years of work that has taken place in that shop. The rather large can of glue that holds together the interior of a Lotus probably helped too ! However the workshop was one of a true craftsman and reminded me of my woodworking shop. Plus I learned quite a bit about the art of making an interior.

Everyone I met during my time in was a delight. My previous evening had been spent with Scott Walker. Enjoyable conversations and learned quite a bit

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Congrats Chris, the factory tour is well worth it and thanks to Bib's at really short notice I have experienced it as well along with a great day and great people. It certainly makes owning the car that much more special than it already is and to that end I'm getting in her and going for a drive!

Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs Italian, the mechanics German, the lovers French and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the chefs British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss and it is all organized by the Italians.

You make something idiotproof, they'll make a better idiot

You think professional is expensive, just wait until you pay for amateur.

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Okay, no sense in starting another thread about the same thing, so let me add to this one in saying Thanks, Bibs, for one of the most memorable days of my life. :) I'm sure I'm not the only person on here who has been nearly a lifelong fan of the Esprit (or other Lotus); When you spend that long being so involved in something and liking it that much, to have an experience like we did the other day is just unreal. It's sublime. It's like going to Mecca. It's the center of the automotive world as far as I'm concerned! :)

Pictures to follow shortly . . . :)

Tony K. :)

 

Esprit S1s #355H & 454H

Esprit S2.2  #324J

1991 Esprit SE

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Absolutely, Louise! We can thank Bibs and Laura for one of the best weeks ever! :D

As noted above, with Patty and I acting like the tourists we are, below are some pictures. I realize many of you have been here (multiple times even); I hope you all enjoy the photos, but at the very least, those who have not been there yet have something to look forward to . . .

Of course we weren't allowed to take any photos at the Lotus factory, so they begin at Classic Team Lotus. But let me say that it was great to meet James, absolutely incredible to meet Roger Becker himself (!), and to receive a tour of the Factory by them was beyond my imagination! The Evora assembly line is very impressive (actually, everything we saw was) . . . I think I'll start saving my pennies . . . :D

Our time at the factory was by itself enough to make this one of the most memorable days ever, but that was just round one! Here are the photos from the rest of the day:

This was the scene at Classic Team Lotus: Formula One cars everywhere, all kinds of neat and historic things hanging on the wall, cars being prepared, and our excellent and very gracious guide, Sapphire, going into impressive technical detail about the cars:

Classic1.jpg

This is Andretti's Type 79, my favorite Formula One car ever. I'd read about the ground effects and sculpted underbody, but had never seen as much as a photo of the underside before; I was lucky to be able to make out as much as the rubber side skirts in an action shot. Well, for anyone who ever wondered like me, here it is, the tunnel under the car:

Classic79GroundEffects.jpg

This composite weave has been nicknamed "Chapman Tartan". I was privileged to witness a discussion of resins and composites between Sapphire and none other than the International Poolboy himself, Christopher, highlighting the complementary characteristics of each fiber. :thumbsup:

ClassicChapmanTartan.jpg

The amount of knowledge, history, craftsmanship, intrigue, and just plain old "mechanical stuff" at Classic Team Lotus is every petrolhead's dream! Here's Ayrton Senna's 97T:

ClassicSenna97T.jpg

In the background is my loving and patient wife, Patty. She doesn't look as excited: :sleeping:

ClassicBoredPatty1.jpg

Here's me putting a spanner to Senna's 97T, under the guidance of Lotus F1 legend Bob Dance*:

ClassicBobDanceTonyK.jpg

*...okay, not really; this shot was staged. It's a bit of b.s./sarcasm taken to send back to a friend in the States...

Meanwhile, Patty looks on:

ClassicBoredPatty2.jpg

More silliness -- Is that Tony K in Jim Clark's car? Look again . . . :getmecoat:

Classic25silly.jpg

What is just as amazing as the people and cars at Classic Team Lotus are the myriad and wondrous pieces of history just laying about and hanging on the walls. Is this the laurel presented to Sir Stirling Moss when he won the '61 Monaco GP? Anyone have a photo from that day to verify?

ClassicLaurelMonaco61.jpg

Let's check in on Patty . . . oh no, she looks quite forlorn!* :(

ClassicBoredPatty3.jpg

Meanwhile, here's Bibs and Fittipaldi's Type 72:

ClassicBibs72.jpg

Wrapping up our visit to Classic Team Lotus, here's one more shot of the works, with Jim Clark's 25. I purposely left out all of the good stuff; if you haven't been there yet, GO. The experience is well worth it!

Classic2.jpg

. . . Oh, and by the way, here's Patty -- is she happy we're finally leaving, or was she just playing along the whole time?

ClassicBoredPattyNOT.jpg

*In the earlier photo, no, she is NOT leaning on the wing, applied NO pressure at all, and barely touched it!; being surrounded by exotic cars and rowing shells, not to mention being skillful at delicate crafts of her own, she knows very well!

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. . . next, we were on to the works of N. Fulcher, Coachtrimmer!

Here we are at Nick Fulcher's. How much awesomeness can you count in the photo below -- Nick, and Steve, holding an Esprit S1 dashboard, with a bolt of green S1 fabric on the table, F1 posters from through the years, driver suit, steering wheels, and on and on . . . the whole place is the archetype of the perfect workshop. I'm as green as the fabric with envy!

NickSteveShop.jpg

For all of you restoring S1s and S2s, here's something I hope you think is as cool as I do: The making of the interior bright trim. Steve kindly took the time to explain the process, starting with the partially finished pieces they have made to spec, which they then finish by hand, curve by hand with a specially made bending tool, and clear coat for protection. The trim pieces look absolutely superb. In the photo below, we see one strip in the early stages of finishing, and two that have been polished to a mirror-like luster:

NickNewTrim.jpg

Seriously, how great is it that today, more than thirty years later, we can get new pieces like this for our cars, from the man himself! We in the Lotus community are very fortunate!

Nick, Steve, thank you again, it was great meeting you!

. . . and now on to Stratton Motor Company!

To begin, Guy Munday was a terrific host as were Nick and Sapphire and James and Roger and everyone else that day. Guy, if you are reading this, thanks again for the tour and it was great to meet you!

The showroom at Stratton is impressive! Why can't we have Lotus dealers like this in the States?

StrattonShowroom.jpg

I'm not necessarily a Morgan fan, but being from the States, the whole idea of a Morgan dealership is quite a novelty to me!

StrattonMorgans.jpg

Here is some Lotus inventory!

StrattonElises.jpg

We also were treated to a tour of the service and restoration facilities, and there were some very impressive cars there with some very impressive work being carried out!

I took many more photos, but I don't want to bore you all, and also wish to be mindful of bandwidth! Needless to say, though, it was an absolutely incredible, fantastic day, and we are very thankful. The memories will live on long after the advance of technology has rendered these digital photos obsolete. What does one say after meeting so many incredible, even legendary, people in one day? Bibs, Laura, James Haskey, Roger Becker, Guy, Sapphire, Bob Dance, Clive Chapman, Nick, Steve . . . really, it is quite overwhelming in the best of ways, it was a true pleasure to meet you all, and we thank you very very much for your kindness, your time, and for sharing so much Lotus with us. :)

- Tony & Patty

Edited by Tony K

Tony K. :)

 

Esprit S1s #355H & 454H

Esprit S2.2  #324J

1991 Esprit SE

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My plan with the day was to make it heaven for a Lotus nut job, looks like it hit the spot!

Thanks to everyone involved, of course I just made some phone calls and there were many others who put in time and effort too, Guy especially. I'm glad you all had a lovely day :D

Oh, and the Birmingham thing - The whole day was a surprise so when signs to Norwich started popping up I tried to convince them all the we were on our way to Brum to visit the ring road! Didn't work too well! :P

88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

Evora NA

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