Lotus designer's personal collection donated to museum

Engineering legend Ron Hickman's personal collection of notes and drawings has been donated to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England

The personal collection of Lotus designer Ron Hickman, including original drawings and documents, has been donated to the National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu.

Over 100 sketches and concept drawings, as well as reference photographs and documents make up the majority of the collection, and have been donated by Hickman’s widow Helen, with Ron having died seven years ago aged 78.

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Hickman was behind several of Lotus’s sports cars, including the Elite in 1957, the Elan in 1962 and then the Europa and Elan 2+2, and invented the revolutionary Black & Decker Workmate folding workbench. His presence has been felt throughout the whole of engineering.

He was born in South Africa in 1932, and trained in law before moving to England in 1954 to work at Ford’s Dagenham design studio. A meeting with Lotus founder Colin Chapman not long after prompted a switch to the sports car and Formula 1 manufacturer, where he became a core member of its design team.

Items from his spell at Lotus – the marque he is most synonymous with – fill most of the collection, including from his spell as the company's director. The drawings included are primarily from Hickman’s own hand, and with a heavier bias towards originals rather than copies, as this was all before the days of computer design.

As many as 60 box files of documents contain correspondence relating to his autobiography, as well as a complete project showing his proposed redesign of the Caterham Seven.

‘We extend grateful thanks to Mrs Hickman for this generous and important donation,’ said Andrea Bishop, the National Motor Museum Trust’s director of collections. ‘Ron Hickman’s significant contribution to automotive design adds a fascinating insight into the development of Lotus Cars to our motoring archive. We are looking forward to exploring this large collection and sharing some of its content on our website next year.”

The National Motor Museum Trust has a huge collection, including over 250 automobiles, and has received approval as an accredited museum and from Arts Council England.

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