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Name any prominent British classic car marque and there will already be a whole library of books on the subject, but if you’re looking for new nuggets of information it’s the stories from the people who worked on the cars back in the day which serve up something new.
One such title is the autobiography of designer Oliver Winterbottom, recently published by Veloce which charts his career in the industry, a working life which began as an apprentice at Jaguar but saw him putting in several stints at Lotus as well as TVR and General Motors. I’ve had some demanding bosses in my time, but Winterbottom has worked with both William Lyons and Colin Chapman which rather puts things in perspective.
Winterbottom’s accounts of life at Lotus offer a fascinating insight into product deveopment at the innovative but frequently cash-starved company as well as the stillborn projects like the M90 and it’s interesting to get a fresh perspective on Colin Chapman too as well as life at Lotus under GM ownership. His time at TVR is equally engaging, including an account of the Tasmin prototype’s bonnet becoming detached and flying across an entire motorway before being retrieved the following day. During his Lotus years, Winterbottom was even tasked by Chapman with working on his advanced boat designs, while later on he was to become involved in the science of passive safety and airbags, becoming something of a specialist in the area. An engaging read for anyone interested in car design and the specialist British sports car industry in particular. A life in car design by Oliver WInterbottom is published by Veloce under ISBN 978-1-787110-35-9. More details from www.veloce.co.uk.