A line-up of Lotus sports cars is to be a highlight at this year's Barnet Classic Car Club's annual show and already the promise to give Lotus pride of place is reviving interest in Barnet's link to one of the legendary marques of the British car industry.


Lotus Cars’ founder Colin Chapman lived in New Barnet in the 1950s and it was in a cottage just off Clifford Road that he and his team produced the original design of the company’s classic model, the Lotus Seven.

Two of the Barnet club’s Lotus Seven owners – James Beeton (see above, left) and Chris Martin – will be among this year’s exhibitors at the show on Sunday 19 May and they are hoping the club can attract a record turnout of Lotus cars.

Once again, the show will be held on the top deck of the multi-storey car park at The Spires shopping centre. The event starts with a parade of cars along the High Street from 10.30am and the show continues until 3pm.

Pride of place last year among a record turnout of over 100 classic and vintage cars was a 1980s version of the Arkley sports car, the first time one had been on display at the Barnet show.

Around 1,000 of the Arkley SS sports cars were produced in the 1970s and 1980s at John Britten Garages in Barnet Road, Arkley.

Show organisers are hoping Barnet’s historic connection with Lotus will boost this year’s event and they are aiming to have on display over 120 classic and vintage vehicles.

So far seven Lotus sports cars have been registered for this year’s show, up from four in 2023.

The Lotus Seven was Colin Chapman’s highly popular kit car, which enthusiasts were told could be assembled in 60 hours. At that time, some sports cars were sold as do-it-yourself kits because they avoided purchase tax.

The chance to have their Lotus Sevens photographed outside Gothic Cottage – the house in Clifford Road where Colin Chapman lived with his wife Hazel -- was one that Chris Martin and James Beeton could not resist.

Their visit was a chance to meet the current owners of Gothic Cottage, Rob and Petrina Lyne, who were fascinated to hear more of the history of their home and how it had played a pivotal role in the development of the Lotus Seven. (see above, from left to right, Petrina Lyne, James Beeton, Rob Lyne, and Chris Martin).

Chris’s Lotus Super Seven is a 1969 model which he has owned since 1978 and which he has twice completely rebuilt – the first was needed after it was damaged in an accident within three weeks of being purchased and the second after it had remained unused for 30 years in his garage.

“Five years ago, I took it out of the garage, and I decided there and then to rebuild it once again.”

James’s Lotus Seven is a series 4 model, dating from 1972, which he spent three years restoring. “She has been back on the road for a year now and already done several shows. The man who sold me the car had kept her for 35 years after it was bought for his 50th birthday.”  

Colin Chapman bought Gothic Cottage in 1954 which was not far from the workshop where his early Lotus cars were being built at Lotus Engineering Co Ltd in Tottenham Lane, Hornsey.


According to the history of the Lotus Seven design -- as described in Mike Lawrence’s book, Wayward Genius -- Colin and his colleagues often spent time at weekends at Gothic Cottage discussing future models.

After lunch one Sunday afternoon early in 1957, Mike Lawrence recalled that Hazel said to Colin and a Lotus engineer Gilbert Macintosh, that she thought they needed a more basic car in the Lotus range, a successor to the Mk6.

“Hazel said the Eleven is fine, but it’s expensive to buy and even a slight dent in the body work is expensive to repair.”

 Colin looked dubious, but Mike said: “I think Hazel’s right, that’s a very good idea. Colin thought for a moment and then said to Hazel, ‘You do the washing up and Mac and I’ll get on with it.

“We based it on the Eleven and we’d done all the stressing by 10’clock that night. Colin took the drawings into work next day and a week or so later, we had built the first Seven.”

Gothic Cottage was thought to have been the gardener’s cottage for the long demolished Gothic House, which overlooked Hadley Common, and its significance in the history of Lotus Cars is a source of pride among Barnet’s classic car enthusiasts and especially those who own a Lotus car.

Chris Martin, who lives nearby in Clifford Road, said it gave him quite a thrill to think that his Lotus Seven was conceived nearby in Gothic Cottage where Chapman lived until 1960, when he moved to Beech Hill Avenue in Hadley Wood and Lotus car production moved from Hornsey to Cheshunt.

“Apparently Colin’s design team met for Sunday lunch quite often at Gothic Cottage and then at their Hadley Wood home.

“He was obviously the engineering brains, but Hazel was clearly a leading force in the company, and she had the idea of Lotus building a small, light open sports car that was more affordable, and as a kit car avoided purchase tax.

“And, the story goes, as was often the case in those days, it was the men that suggested Hazel did the washing up while they got work at the drawing board.

“By that evening they had the design and by the end of the week the car was complete on the drawing board and ready for production.”

Rob and Petrina Lyne have a collection of deeds and other documents in Colin Chapman’s name and following Chris Martin’s visit have agreed to let them be examined by leading members of the Historic Lotus Register who are always on the lookout information on Chapman’s early years.

A star attraction in the Lotus line-up at the Barnet classic car show in May will be a 1962 Lotus Elite owned by Malcom Ricketts of Wheathampstead. He has a collection of cars and is a leading member of the Historic Lotus Register.

Lotus Elites were advertised as a grand touring car and Malcom’s is coloured primrose with a silver top.

The Lotus Elite – described as a racing car for the road – was also the product of numerous meetings at Gothic House in Clifford Road.

A history of the car’s design says Colin’s meetings with his team often continued until the early hours with Chapman wanting a saleable race winner and others favouring a touring car.

“That the Elite ended up as beautiful as it did was a credit to the team’s desire for excellence and their willingness to explore ideas outside the norm.” (From The Lotus Elite, Ortenburger, 1990).

This year’s Barnet show is bound to provoke other memories and anecdotes about Chapman and Lotus Cars, which are now part of the Lotus Group, a multinational automotive manufacturer with production of high-performance sports cars based in Hethel, Norfolk.

Chris Nightingale, a long-standing organiser of the Barnet show, said Chapman, who grew up in Muswell Hill, built his first racing car in his parent’s garage before moving to old stables in Hornsey, and then moved to a modern factory in Cheshunt.

“Colin had studied engineering at UCL, where I used to teach, but I am not old enough to have had contact with him, although I did lecture his son in the early 1980s.

“They moved to Hadley Wood once the factory was established in Cheshunt and they lived there until Lotus moved to Norfolk. He was a brilliant man...and said to be a terrifying driver.” For more information about this year's classic car show email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.