Another Elan-related anniversary and a chance to salute one of the men behind it
After all the bad news from Hethel over the last few months it's been nice to have been (cautiously) a little more celebratory about Lotus recently. We had Matt Bird's first impressions of the Evora 414E and the tech behind it and it's hard not to feel real pride at the fact beleaguered Lotus is - despite it all - up there with the might of Porsche in the development of next-gen hybrid supercars. The 918 Spyder is a more polished and powerful statement but there's something engagingly British, like the Bloodhound, about the Lotus project. And it's hard not to feel hopeful about the possibility of selling the tech on to mainstream carmakers and guaranteeing a future income that could keep things afloat.
Jim Clark flies the flag for his employer
While we're celebrating Lotus's ingenuity we owe PHer Zeast a debt of gratitude for pointing out a more poignant Elan-related anniversary than the one we used as a flimsy excuse to link to a vid of Diana Rigg flouncing about in an Elan. Flimsy but most valid!
Anyway while the show debut we were trying to pinpoint was apparently October 15 for the 50th anniversary of the press unveiling of the Elan at Earl's Court, yesterday would've been the 80th birthday of Ron Hickman. Hickman's death in February last year was picked up on by the mainstream media for his invention of the Black & Decker Workmate, my own of which I was using just this weekend! Sadly I don't have an example of Hickman's more exciting work, namely the Lotus Elite and Elan he played a key part in the development of. But it's a good excuse to share some of the period pictures of the Elan Lotus sent to me (including one of Hickman's design sketches), further celebrate 50 years of the Elan and salute one of the men intimately involved in its creation.
There are few classics I'd like to own more than an Elan. I bet I don't fit in one mind.
Turbobanana22 Oct 2012
Lotus Elite Lotus Elan Black & Decker Workmate
Not a bad legacy is it?
WillBrumBrum22 Oct 2012
Here's my own tribute to Ron Hickman OBE which I wrote back in February this year:
21.10.1932 - 17.02.2011
Each of our lives are shaped by a handful of people and Ron has had a huge influence on mine. I’m very grateful to have known Ron Hickman OBE for the last fifteen years and to have had him to look up to as a design mentor.
Ron made his fortune from an idea for a simple but multifunctional bench with a gap down the middle to grip wood. The Workmate enabled DIY enthusiasts to saw through pieces of timber without using the edges of chairs and tables for support. The idea had come to him in 1961 when he accidentally sawed through the leg of an expensive Swedish chair while making a wardrobe. Nearly 70m Workmates have been sold since Black & Decker put Ron’s design into mass production in 1973.
I first met Ron as a teenage boy with my father, Ron took great delight in showing us around his futuristic house with a roof that stretched all the way down to the floor. The highlight of the visit was a trip in the 1962 Lotus Elan that he’d designed and then a ride in his pride and joy, his 1931 Cadillac V16.
As a twenty-year-old I returned to work for Ron on a sportscar project that he was developing in his retirement. The memory that I will keep of Ron is his unbridled enthusiasm for the power of his own beliefs, be that in design, the power of good or the un-compromised ability to carry on regardless of all the nay sayers.
At his funeral, his lifelong friend and former business partner, Derek Bernard, commented that Ron’s philosophy on life was to just keep on trying until you had exhausted every feasible option available.