Sadly, the Lotus community has lost a great friend. On April 20th, Nick Fulcher passed away from a brain tumor. Nick is perhaps best known to Lotus enthusiasts as the bespoke coachtrimmer who, as Mike Kimberley would say, “practicalized” Giugiaro’s tartan interior for the Esprit S1 and personally handled the interior modifications to the Esprit S1 used in The Spy Who Loved Me, but who also worked on projects as varied as the DeLorean, British Airways’ 747s, and Disneyland Paris. You can see two phenomenal examples of Nick’s recent Esprit S1 interior restorations at http://bit.ly/I4FPJw.
Nick began his career as a bespoke tailor at Harry Darby’s, in Norwich. After 6 years, Nick moved on to Lotus, initially in the Trim Production Department and after several months was asked to sort out certain problems in trim design and production. Lotus then sent Nick off to Jaguar to work with John Pete in their interior trim department to learn more about trimming with hide, then to Connolly’s to see how leather was taken from its raw, wet state, to a finished tanned hide, and to learn more about how a hide can and should be used.
Eventually, Nick was running Lotus’s Engineering Trim Design and Development Department, where he worked on interiors from concept to design and development, as well as special projects, such as working at Pinewood Studios with the special effects team on a Lotus Esprit used in The Spy Who Loved Me. After encountering trim production problems with the Éclat and Elite 504, Nick went to Italdesign in Turin to work alongside Giorgetto Giugiaro when the Esprit was styled to eliminate past production problems.
In 1977, Nick left Lotus and formed N. Fulcher Coachtrimmer. As Nick said, “Since that day I have never wondered where the next job was going to come from—we’ve been constantly flat out! Anybody who walks into my workshop will see that I have a passion for motor racing, which all stemmed from working at Lotus and having the chance to get involved. I used to trim all the seats, some of the steering wheels for the drivers, and also used to alter racing overalls and helmets to suit drivers requirements right from the days of Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt through to Johnny Herbert, Mika Häkkinen, and Alessandro Zanardi.”
In 1997, Nick’s eldest son, Stephen, decided he wanted a change of career and Nick took him on board. Since then Stephen has completed his apprenticeship and now works, as Nick said, “to the same high standards that I expect…he is a huge asset to the company and will take over the reins.”
I first got to know Nick in 2010 when, with much trepidation, I asked if he would redo the interior of my Esprit S1 using my family tartan, and was taken aback at how enthusiastic he was. I only had the pleasure of meeting Nick twice, first at the 2010 Lotus Forums holiday party where he presented me with a pleated mockup of an S1 seat insert using my family tartan, and then again this past December when Tony Krncevic and I interviewed him for the Esprit S1 documentary we’re working on, but his warmth and friendship were immediate. In the short time I knew him it was clear that Nick was without question one of the most dedicated craftsmen I’ve ever met, with an absolutely uncompromising commitment to excellence, and I’m sure Stephen will carry on Nick’s legacy at N. Fulcher Coachtrimmer. It was also clear that Nick absolutely loved his work.
His commitment to the Lotus community was unwavering. Tony and I had been told only a few days before our visit to the UK of Nick’s diagnosis, and Nick had asked that we reschedule our first interview with Mike Kimberley so that Nick could be interviewed before he went in for brain surgery the next day, which Mike thankfully accommodated. Soon I will post a video remembrance of Nick from that footage. But again, Nick’s commitment was astonishing. He called me the next morning, 20 minutes before leaving for his surgery, to tell me a few things he’d forgotten to mention. And by the way, Stephen told us that Nick complimented the doctors on their stitching that afternoon.
After his surgery, Nick completed the patterning for my car, which is the last Lotus he worked on. I’ll always think warmly of Nick whenever I get in that car, once Stephen has completed the installation.
Remembrances of Nick may be posted at The Lotus Forums at http://bit.ly/IJS6AK.
Rest in peace, Nick. You’ll be missed.
— Matt Guthrie DeLange