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Trove of historical car documents find a space at Beaulieu's National Motor Museum

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Ron Hickman with the Lotus Elan he designed
Ron Hickman with the Lotus Elan he designed

AN important personal collection of drawings and documents by the designer of such classic Lotus sports cars as the Elan, Elite and Europa, has been given to the National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu.

More than 100 sketches and concept drawings by prolific designer and inventor Ron Hickman, as well as numerous reference photographs and documents including those pictured, have been given to the trust by his widow Helen.

Ron, who died aged 78 in 2011, went on to invent the revolutionary Black & Decker Workmate folding workbench during his successful and varied career.

The fascinating collection spans his years spent working on vehicle design, with a strong emphasis on his time as a Lotus director.

Most of the drawings are original works, complemented by copies of sketches. As many as 60 box files contain correspondence relating to his autobiography, as well as a complete project showing his proposed redesign of the Caterham Seven.

National Motor Museum Trust director of collections, Andrea Bishop, said: “We extend grateful thanks to Mrs Hickman for this generous and important donation.

“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.”

Born in South Africa in 1932, Hickman trained in law before moving to England in 1954, taking up a design post in Ford’s Dagenham design studio.

After meeting Lotus company founder Colin Chapman in the mid-1950s, Ron left Ford to become an integral part of the Lotus design team.

Heavily involved with the creation of the 1957 Lotus Elite, Hickman later masterminded the iconic 1962 Lotus Elan with Chapman, which became one of the most revered sports cars of the ‘60s. His later efforts included the Lotus Europa and Elan 2+2.

Leaving the company in 1967, he focused on his most commercially successful design – the Workmate – which has sold millions worldwide and is still in production today.

The National Motor Museum Trust’s collection of over 250 vehicles is world-famous, along with its extensive range of motoring artefacts, photographic images, specialist reference library and film and video collection.

Dedicated to preserving the history of motoring in Britain, the National Motor Museum Trust is a charitable organisation with a mission to engage and inspire people through its diverse collections, which are housed in the Collections Centre at Beaulieu.

The collections have been designated by Arts Council England as being of national and international importance.

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