Lotus Eleven Register

Book Reviews

Colin Chapman – The Man and his Cars

by Gerard (‘Jabby’)  Crombac


Published 1986, 1996 by Patrick Stephens Ltd., England, and in 2001 by Haynes Publishing, USA.  ISBN 1-85960-844-2

Jabby Crombac was invited by the Chapman family to begin this biography shortly after Colin’s death in 1982.  He was a respected motorsports journalist and also a Lotus ‘insider’ from the early years.  It was a very young Crombac who bought the first Lotus Eleven kit (chassis #152), and it was not even his first Lotus!  Ian Smiths’s early histories often cited Crombac as the intermediary between Lotus and the FIA or the Auto Club de l’Ouest (LeMans).  Jabby was indeed one of the boys.

The story of Chapman and Lotus that emerges through Crombac’s pen is thus from an informed and astute eyewitness.  The pages on the Lotus Eleven are enriched by his personal involvement and interest in the car.  His scrapbook includes some of the most interesting snapshots of Lotus Eleven history.

As a long-time observer of Lotus, Crombac tries to give the inside story of many of Lotus’ business and race dealings.  He explores the breakup of Jay Chamberlain and Lotus, reporting the gory details from Fred Bushell himself.  (One only wishes for Chamberlain’s side of the story, as it would surely have ‘driven the bus’ back over the factory!)

This biography takes the reader through the 60s and 70s, through the growth of racing technology, business upheavals, and Chapman’s restless fascination with new challenges.

This is one of the best books on Lotus.  So much that it can be a sad moment when the last page is turned.  The 2001 edition appears to be readily available.

-- Jay Sloane


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