What goes up...

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Lotus designer Len Terry tells Doug Nye about extra-orbital activities

Racing people might be sharply focused, but work hard, play hard has always been the order of the day. Talking recently with Len Terry – designer of Lotuses and much else – he reminisced about a Lotus model which escaped the type number list, and most marque histories – the Hornsey Rocket.

Colin Chapman’s father Stan ran The Railway Hotel pub in Hornsey, north London. Lotus Engineering was established in the stable block behind it. Len recalls: “I often wonder how we managed to get the work done because everybody larked about so much. Around Guy Fawkes night the development shop and drawing office got together and pooled some cash to buy a load of fireworks – bangers. We emptied out the powder and packed it into built-up aluminium tubes with a pointed nose and fins and a launch ramp. After experimenting with quite small ones we fabricated one which was about three or four feet long.

“There was a railway marshalling yard out the back so we all trooped out there, put this thing on the launch ramp pointing more or less vertically and lit the blue touch paper. But it smouldered for ages, it just didn’t seem to want to go off. One of the blokes decided he should investigate and, inevitably, as he got close it fired.

“There was just one hell of a bang and nobody actually saw which way it went, but the flash seemed to suggest straight up! I’d got a stopwatch because I reckoned that if I timed the complete journey up and down I would be able to guesstimate how high it had gone, given that it would accelerate at 1G coming down and faster going up. So it would only be a very rough guesstimate, but for anyone with an enquiring mind this was an interesting exercise…

“As the bloke investigating the fuse hit the deck, everybody else realised what goes up must come down, so lots of blokes dived under the parked railway trucks before rushing back out again. There were no floorboards in them! Eventually we heard the rocket come down, and found it had landed 100 yards away with its nose buried about two inches into an asphalt path. My timing made the flight 33 seconds – which seemed like a lifetime – and I estimated it went up at least 2000 feet. But like all these things, next morning you wake up sensible. We realised Stan’s pub was right on a main road with heavy traffic and a bus route – we could have killed somebody…

“But still Lotus Components got in on the act, filling an old metal tea pot with acetylene gas and applying a light. That blew the teapot lid clean through the asbestos roof.

“It always had to get bigger and better. Later, after Lotus had moved to Cheshunt, they detonated a 10-gallon drum acetylene bomb in the race shop. It was a miracle anything was left standing. Frank Coltman was works manager for Progress Chassis, who built our frames. When they moved to Edmonton they found they’d got rats in the building so Frank left an acetylene gas cylinder leaking into the foundations overnight. Next morning he dropped a match in to kill off the rats… and he was stone-deaf for three days!”

Motor racing, believe it, is dangerous.

A prolific racing car designer, Len Terry started out with his own 750 special, the JVT, then moved into the motor sport mainstream with Lotus and designed a raft of cars from the Terrier to Gilby F1, Lotus 29, 34 and 38 Indycars, Eagle-Weslake, BRM P126, Mirage M2, F5000 Surtees TS5, Leda and many more.

Related articles

Related products