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Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman

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(Anthony) Colin Bruce Chapman, B.Sc.(Eng.) (1928–1982), racing car designer and motor manufacturer.

1928 Born May 19, Richmond, Surrey, son Stanley Frank Kennedy-Chapman, licensed caterer, of Muswell Hill, and his wife, (Lillian) Mary nee Bruce.

1945-8 Educated at University College, London University, where he read civil engineering because he thought it would be easier. He specialized in structural engineering which, combined with a lifelong interest in aeronautics, later stood him in good stead in producing cars well known for their lightness. His ingenious interpretation of the rules governing their construction helped him to gain an advantage over others. Also learnt to fly with the university air squadron.

By 1948, having been dealing in second-hand cars, he was left with an Austin 7 which he converted into a special to raise under 750 Motor Club rules. This was the first Chapman racing car and was known as the Lotus Mark 1.[1]

1950 He accepted a short service commission with the RAF.

1951 Worked as a civil engineer with a structural steel company for 12 months.

1951 Gained Royal Aero Club certificate on basis of his RAF training.

1951 His car design dominated the 750 formula racing season. As a result the regulations were changed to close the engine loophole he had exploited.

In response to demand from other drivers he began making cars in a lock-up garage in Muswell Hill, later moving to nearby Hornsey. His future wife loaned him £25 to help establish the company.

1952 Joined the British Aluminium Co Ltd., as Development Engineer where he was employed for 5 years.

1952 Formed The Lotus Engineering Co., Ltd. of which he was initially Development Engineer as well as Managing Director.

1954 Married Hazel Patricia Williams; they had two daughters and a son.

1955 Formed Lotus Cars, manufacturing motor cars.

c.1956 Redesigned the Vanwall racing car for Tony Vandervell, bringing in Frank Costin to provide aerodynamic design.

1959 Moved the business from Hornsey to Cheshunt.

1960 Chapman's first grand prix victory, the 1960 Monaco grand prix, was achieved not by a works driver but by Stirling Moss, who had asked his sponsor to buy him one.

1963-65 Jim Clarke, in a Lotus, dominated the 1500 cc Formula One races and established Lotus as the marque to beat in the 3 litre Formula One series.

Chapman's Formula 1 cars won seventy-two grand prix and took the constructors' championship seven times, were runners-up five times, and had world championship drivers 6 times (1963, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1978). Only Ferrari approached this record.

1970 Chapman was appointed CBE

1976 Moved the business to purpose-built facilities with its own test track at Hethel in Norfolk.

1978 This year proved to be his last great motor-racing season; in the Lotus 78, Chapman exploited the phenomenon of ground effect, shaping the undersides of his cars to generate down-force and enclosing them with side skirts. Lotus, with Andretti driving, won 8 Grand Prix.

Lotus won no more races for 3 years as sponsorship and other problems mounted. In addition, the Lotus road car business was in serious financial trouble.

He was awarded the Don Ferodo Trophy in perpetuity after three wins (1956, 1965, 1978).

The road car business was in financial trouble.

Chapman's knowledge on use of composite materials led to his involvement in the ill-fated De Lorean project in Northern Ireland.

1981 The type 88 twin-chassis car was banned when the other teams threatened to withdraw from the 1981 Long Beach grand prix.

1982 Died at his home, East Carleton Manor, East Carleton, Norwich.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, January 06, 1996
  • Biography of Colin Chapman, ODNB
  • Who's Who.
  • Obituary The Times, Dec 17, 1982
  • Wikipedia