Book Review: Colin Chapman – Inside the Innovator by Karl Ludvigsen
Car launch season is always an interesting time. Will we see any radical interpretation of the new 2017 chassis regulations? One of F1’s most innovative thinkers that pushed the boundaries of the sports regulations was Colin Chapman. Karl Ludvigsen’s book on Chapman, “Colin Chapman – Inside the Innovator” has all the ingredients I like in […]
Car launch season is always an interesting time. Will we see any radical interpretation of the new 2017 chassis regulations? One of F1’s most innovative thinkers that pushed the boundaries of the sports regulations was Colin Chapman. Karl Ludvigsen’s book on Chapman, “Colin Chapman – Inside the Innovator” has all the ingredients I like in a good F1 book – well researched personal facts, detailed and rare photographs, color race images, detailed technical information and heavy GSM grade page quality and binding.
Looking at it’s cover, it would be easy to misjudge Ludvigsen’s book as an autobiography of Colin Chapman – instead it’s written more like a history book that looks at Chapman’s radical thinking and concepts within different aspects of F1 race car engineering from engines, transmissions, suspension, chassis structure, weight, aero, downforce and driver management. The book dedicates separate chapters for each of these engineering concepts and the research and technical content in each chapter is substantial.
Although Chapman was most remembered for pioneering ground effects aero in the late 70’s cars, I found the chapter on engines, particularly the troubled experimentation with the Pratt & Whitney gas turbine and the 56B and the chapter on suspension a great read. A lot of actual engine and suspension sketches and photos have been included.
Ex-Lotus driver Emerson Fittipaldi writes the book’s foreword and the author managed to get many personal recollections from Mario Andretti and other ex-team and personalities.
Photography-wise, each chapter is littered with photo extracts of Chapman’s own drawings or notebook, photos and drawing of technical components.
At 400 pages, there is a lot of content to read and photos to study. Admittedly, Ludvigsen consolidates a lot of material from previous Lotus books including by Dough Nye, Johnny Tipler and Michael Oliver.
If you already own some of Johnny Tipler’s excellent Lotus books such as “The Lotus Cars 1948-1968” and “The Lotus Cars 1968-2000″, this book may not be a complete revelation on Chapman’s cars but it is nevertheless a highly recommended read!
Wow factor/money shot: Personal dossier notes – Future spec for F1 car (pg 261)
Suitable for: Lotus and F1 history fans.