Celebrations at Hethel
After having had the fun of the 2 M.O.T.s and the drive to Winchester, (see the maiden voyages page) I couldn't wait to get to Lotus' 50th birthday celebrations at Hethel - to show off my toy to all the other Lotus owners ! So the discovery that there was a Lotus convoy going up from Nelmes in Essex was a chance I jumped at.
The night before was spent fiddling with tyre pressures, checking oil levels, water levels and all the other things that were totally unnecessary as I'd done them all several times in last two hours, but that I loved doing because I loved this car. Obviously the car had to be cleaned - I wanted people to notice my Eclat !
The 45 minute drive from my house to Essex was fairly uneventful - the usual bits of sound insulation flew off, the engine leaked oil onto the exhaust manifolds (I HATE canted engines where the manifolds are under the leaks !) and I tried not to be too much of a hooligan round bends. Pulling into Nelmes, I saw the other Lotuses and smiled a smile that the Cheshire cat would have envied.
Now one of the things that you do NOT want to do when meeting people for the first time is look like an idiot. Unfortunately idiocy is something that, from time to time, I have elevated into an art form and I tried desperately hard not to do it on this occasion....
Turn music down to a level where it is no longer interfering with NASA's space equipment;
don't knock anyone over;
for goodness sake, DON'T hit anyone else's Lotus while parking;
don't rev the engine too much;
don't stall the engine;
don't leave the handbrake off;
I shut my car door, managed not to scrape anyone else's car in the process and looked around whilst partaking of the tea and cake kindly put on by Nelmes. Mike Carrick introduced himself, and twisted my cam belt to check its tension while bemoaning the fact that his Elite had died on him and he had had to come in his Rover. Lots of owners were there chatting and I tried not to bore anyone with tales of my car. If we're honest, mine was the tattiest one there and had gradually embarrassed me while I stood chatting by dropping oil on the floor, ejecting a small quantity of coolant and popping its headlights up half way.
I will now let you in on a secret. The Eclat looks miles better with the headlights in the down position, but until I fixed the vacuum system properly, they were never going to stay down for very long when the engine was off.
Now I knew that there was a gap between the light pods and the bonnet - and I also knew roughly what width it was. So I carried a quantity of short twigs of the correct width that could be surreptitiously placed into this gap after stopping the engine (see picture). No one ever spotted it.
There were lots of Elises, a couple of Esprits, my Eclat, an Elan....if I'm honest, I was hoping to see more (different types of) Lotus, but it felt great to be part of the convoy.
Ah yes, the convoy.....
Fearing partly for the health of my car, but more for the integrity of my driving licence, I had a quick chat with the 'leader' of the convoy. At the risk of appearing a wimp, I said I was happy to travel at certain speeds, but that I didn't really want to hit mach speeds if there was an option - and to my surprise a few others agreed. (Phew !) He said that no one was going to drive like a loony, and that the convoy would be fairly sedate.
Famous last words.
The M25 wasn't too bad (traffic wise, or speed wise) and watching a convoy of Lotuses must have been an amazing sight for the other road users. However, once we came off the M25 onto the next motorway, things got a little different. All of a sudden the front Elise started to become rapidly smaller as he accelerated away and so the whole convoy tried to catch it. We followed, but when I looked down at my speedometer I thought it was broken. Blithely ignoring it, I carried on until I surprised a low flying R.A.F. pilot by overtaking him. Ah, so the speedo wasn't broken then.
Thinking it best to slow down, I joined what was now the second part of the convoy (the subsonic section) and followed Chris Rose all the way to Hethel, Norfolk (only getting lost once !) Mike Carrick gameley thrashed his Rover behind me as he attempted to keep up. Once there, it rained and got cold, but I didn't care. I was surrounded by Lotuses of every shape, colour and type.
The old in front of the new...
This is a clay Elise model (probably heavier than the real thing...)
The 340R - the next Elise
This IS Bond's actual car. To be honest, it's a bit of a mess
Harking back to Lotus' F1 days. Will there be a return....?
Richard let me sit in his Elise. He hid the keys first though.
After a great day out, time to go home - after the pre-flight checks !
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