Ashton’s President’s Prattle for August, 2021

President's Prattle


This month’s exploration of all that is great and good in the world of Lotus needs to recognize that the country is once again bifurcated into those in lockdown and those not. So, while lots is still able to go on in South and Western Australia, sadly NSW us heading into the second of what is likely to be three or possibly even four months of lockdown.

Our thoughts are with all those sadly restricted in their movements, and even in the states where no lockdown exists, there is still the restriction on international travel which is frustrating plans to visit friends and family, enjoy overseas holidays, participate in international rallies and so on.

On the subject of WA, I’d like to take the opportunity to welcome Steve Grobler to the CLA Committee as the WA Historic Vehicle Registrar. Steve has done a sterling job for the WA crew by achieving association for CLA to the WA DOT Historic Vehicle scheme. If you have a qualifying vehicle, get in touch with him.

Unfortunately, the increased and extended restrictions in NSW mean that the next two months’ events have all but been abandoned here, so the CSCA events, HSRCA Spring Festival, All British Day and Shannons Classic have all been either cancelled or postponed with no firm date for a replay.

It has also meant we have had to delay the Lotus Breakout we were planning for early September. The plan is now to keep the outline on ice until we have a little more certainty, and then launch at fairly short notice. We appreciate this may or may not suit some of you, but sadly what we have learned is that in current highly dynamic circumstances, forward planning more than a few weeks is most likely doomed to failure.

At a slightly more macro level, the July launch of the Emira seems to have generated lots of interest, and a corresponding amount of commentary, some of it being opined quite vocally. Long version short appears to be that Lotus (and probably therefore Geely) has decided to make a concerted push into the “monied market” of premium sports cars, currently populated largely by Porsche. So, the new car has been substantially improved in the fit, feel and finish department, and there are also some interesting alliances announced, including an engine alliance to allow an AMG engine as a choice (presumably to get round upcoming emission regs in the North American market) and mention of a relationship with Renault in the offing.

Of course the keyboard warriors have been out cutting down the tall poppy, but overall the new car looks, sounds and appears to feel tremendous. The question remains – will Lotus backfill the gap left by vacating the Elise market in particular (i.e. the sub $100k market in Australian terms). It would not be the first time a car manufacturer has decided they can no longer make money in a segment. And apparently Jensen Button might buy the rights and tooling for the Elise… we’ll see.

On the bright side, what all these lockdown restrictions do mean is that I for one have had to find new projects and things to do to keep me occupied. So, while the Eleven is continuing its rebuild at the hands of the genius that is Adam Doyle Smith (if you’ve not seen his work with aluminium, have a look at his website and you might recognise the car on their front page) and the Elite is similarly in the hands of the GRP genius Warren Hotz getting the damage done at the HSRCA Sydney Classic  repaired, I have decided to give the Elan a bit of TLC. So far that’s meant replacing the front brake discs, one of which had a small but annoying “inconsistency”. Also on the list are new door hinge pins, door rubbers, and an electric fan to replace the mechanical one.

The Elise also needs some love, so that is now up on the hoist so I can work out a plan for it. The Odyssey battery has finally given up after 12 years of neglect, so I’m having to push it around, which is an added incentive to do some work on it while I can’t get a new battery (I am assuming batteries don’t count as essential supplies). And of course the Landy needs constant work – currently the steering relay box is out of the car having finally seized, and is being rebuilt (I’m waiting on the parts). I thought it would be good to replace all the tie rod ends in the steering (there are six in the system so no wonder it can be a bit vague) but it turns out there’s a global shortage of them (must be all the silicon chips that go into them) so I’m renovating the ones I have as all they really need is lots of soaking in paraffin and then repacking with fresh grease and a new boot (again, they seem to be in short supply, so I’ll make some up using a bike inner tube).

I hope you are all keeping yourselves and your loved ones safe and secure, and for those in enforced confinement, our thoughts are with you as you endure home schooling, movement restrictions and all the associated inconvenience. With the vaccination programme finally starting to hit is straps, and evidence starting to emerge from the UK that this approach can work (at least during summer), we can at least start to hope that there is a new normal in the near future. I’ll not open the can of worms that surrounds vaccination, suffice to say Caroline and I are fully vaccinated and ready for what’s next.

Take care, keep safe and when and  where you are allowed, stick to the blackstuff.

Pip pip,

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