Lotus Eleven Register

Book Reviews

Flying On Four Wheels

Frank Costin and his car designs                    

by Dennis E. Ortenburger


Published 1986 by Patrick Stephens Ltd., England

British Library Catalog No. 629.2’31’0924  ISBN 0-85059-770-6

The Lotus sports racers are marvels of vehicle dynamics, lightweight and efficient construction and beautiful aerodynamic shapes. This is a direct result of the introduction of Frank Costin, an engineer with De Havilland aircraft by his brother Mike at the beginning of development of the Mk VIII. The resulting collaboration brought Lotus into a new territory of performance.

Frank’s designs was first applied to the Mk VIII and this book has never before seen shots of Frank strapped to the bonnet, checking the airflow by means of observing cotton tufts attached to the wheel wells – at speed! An entire chapter, with copious photos is devoted to the Mk VIII.

The Mk IX has it’s own chapter, again featuring both the theory and construction of the bodywork.

With the development of the Eleven, the dedicated chapter covers not only the production type cars, but also the Monza specials. This chapter is titled ‘Culmation’ and even the most casual historians would agree with this.

Frank was even called upon to assist in the development of the Elite and later to “clean one up” for competition. This is not to reduce the purity of the Peter Kirwin-Taylor design, but is appropriately entitled ‘A Collaboration’.

This book covers the theories, methods and construction with tables, stories and photographs – many from Frank’s personal collection and never published before.

Like many of the talented and enthusiastic volunteers that made up the core of Lotus Engineering, much of the individual contributions of this group has not been documented.

Frank Costin’s story should not be overlooked by those who have a genuine interest in Lotus’ history, as the enthusiast was probably drawn to Lotus by Frank’s beautiful and efficient bodywork.

Well worth the effort of obtaining – and the photos would be invaluable to any restorer of this range of early Lotus sports racers.

-- Pat Dennis


Rescue & Restoration