On the morning of the 4th June, a small group of Mechanical Engineering undergraduates departed from the college for a coach journey to the Lotus facilities in Hethel, Norfolk. The brainchild of UCL alumnus Colin Chapman, Lotus has been based at Hethel since 1966, with the final production line for the road vehicles, Lotus Racing and Classic Team Lotus located in close proximity with one another.
Upon arrival, the group was guided through the assembly line by Mr Richard Parramint - himself a veteran of the company - which produces 12 vehicles per day. Some of the components are fabricated off-site, and others, such as the Toyota engines, are purchased whole. Regardless of origin, they all arrive at Hethel where the team of technicians and apprentices carefully assemble all of the components, until a new Lotus rolls off the line at the very end.
Moving away from the assembly line, the group got a look at some of the cars in Lotus Racing, with narrative provided by one of their renowned engineers Louis Kerr. Present in the workshop was the Lotus Evora GTC run by the 2012 MSA British Endurance Champions, The Bullrun Team; and Louis talked us through the modifications - moving the engine forwards, rotating the engine on the crankshaft axis to optimise weight distribution, as well as work on the aerodynamics and overall weight reduction which contributed to their success in the race series.
A customer T125 ‘F1’ car was positioned just beside the GTC, and the MechEng group had the opportunity to sit in it! Sadly, many of us learned that our bottoms were too wide for the tiny seat within.
Following on, we crossed the road to Classic Team Lotus, where a plethora of old Formula 1 cars are restored and run. In these workshops, historic Lotus F1 cars are maintained between events, and the group was afforded a rare glimpse into their underpinnings not normally on show to the public. On display in the workshop were both Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna’s winning race cars. Clive Chapman, son of Colin Chapman, UCL alumnus, and present-day director of Classic Team Lotus, was around for a quick chat about our ambitions.
UCLMES would like to thank Richard Parramint for providing the tour of the assembly line and Classic Team Lotus, Louis Kerr for the insight into Lotus Racing, and David Blundell sharing some of his expertise with the group. We would also like to extend a special thank you to John Lamb for the day’s arrangements, and to Clive Chapman for taking time out of his busy schedule to welcome us on-site.
Blog about past MES events.