Drive on and don't look back

Iam sorry to hear that the Lotus Grand Prix team isn't dead. In truth, it died many years ago, not long after its founder, Colin Chapman, passed away in 1982. In practice, it struggled on, post-Chapman, sustained by Britain's endless enthusiasm for nostalgia and history and because a few die-hards risked all on some major sponsor bankrolling the magic of the Lotus name. The inevitable happened late last year. Lotus's GP team joined Colin Chapman in the grave.

The Pacific team, wooden spooner of 1994, thought Lotus would help it get extra sponsors, and so merged with Chapman's old team. So Lotus isn't dead, in name. It is merely dead in spirit. Still, the Grand Prix old boys are satisfied, and the one-time premier team in GP racing is facing another season of tail-end ignominy.

Why are we British so obsessed by great old names? Is it our perpetual fondness for the past, on the basis that we never had it so good back then? Why not let Lotus die, in Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest fashion, and celebrate the fact that loads of other British makes now dominate GP racing.

It's much the same with road cars. Britain is the world's only major producer of a big-selling car that's more than 30 years old. The Mini is small and fun and characterful, sure, but it's also slow and noisy and cramped and a bad place to be in a crash.

New car, old name: the Aston Martin DB7 is very handsome and, once early production glitches are sorted, it will probably be very good. But the only Aston Martin thing about it is the badge. It is a Jaguar, and an old Jaguar at that, bankrolled by Ford, built in a characterless new factory by machines. It is called an Aston purely to tug the emotions of heritage fanatics, and hark back to the great old days of Le Mans wins, cloth caps, cast-iron roadside furniture, and to a time when the peasantry - if they could afford a car - would at least get out of a chap's way.

As with Lotus, Aston's great days are not now, they were then. Back in the Fifties and Sixties, Astons won sports car races and were special and, as with Lotus, were the pride and prejudice of one eccentric man. When David Brown got rid of Aston Martin to concentrate on his tractors, the cars immediately deteriorated. Astons of the Seventies and Eighties were mostly awful.

Our sports car future lies with newer makes, such as TVR, or with established makes whose consistency hasn't wavered, such as Jaguar. They are winning sales not by looking back but by looking forward. And, no doubt, in due course they, too, will peak and deserve to perish and some other sports car company with a vision will take their place. TVR even has an up-to- date name for the yobbish Nineties: it is an abbreviation of Trevor.

Our obsession with motoring past isn't restricted to things British. When production of the 2CV ceased in Paris in 1988, a few fans of the tin snail were on hand at Levallois to mourn its passing, as the factory closed its doors for the last time. They were British, of course. The pragmatic French couldn't have cared less. They simply wanted to buy the new and vastly superior Citron AXs instead.

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

    £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

    Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

    C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

    C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home