Colin Chapman

Colin Chapman

Inside The Innovator

Regular price$80.00
Author Karl Ludvigsen
ISBN: 9781910505649

  • In stock, ready to ship
  • Inventory on the way
Select an edition
Renowned as one of the greatest creative forces in the world of the automobile, Lotus’s Colin Chapman (1928–82) left a mixed legacy. Was he an unparalleled innovator or an uninhibited exploiter of the uncredited ideas of others? In this landmark book, celebrated author Karl Ludvigsen gets to grips with the legend, digging deep beneath the skin of Chapman and his cars to explore and expose the motivations that drove this mercurial and controversial genius. Interviews with key figures in the Chapman story mesh with information from the author’s extensive archives to make this book a unique and compelling encounter between the engineer-innovator and the historian-investigator.

• Conceiving concepts: assessment of the man whom Keith Duckworth described as ‘the most brilliant conceptual engineer I’ve known’.

• Engine enterprise: recognising that he was, in his words, ‘not an engine man’, Chapman made the best of engines available to him, whether Ford 1172 side-valve, BRM H-16, Cosworth DFV V8 or Pratt & Whitney gas turbine.

• Transmission topics: this chapter moves through Lotus-designed ‘Queerbox’ transaxles, four-wheel drive, automatic clutch actuation and much more.

• Suspension sagas: from makeshift suspension ingenuity on his first Austin-based special to espousal of active suspension just before his death, Chapman gained and exploited an advanced understanding of a car’s underpinnings.

• Structure stories: Chapman’s accomplishments in this field are numerous. Best-known among them are his monocoque innovations, in glass-fibre for the Elite road car and aluminium for the F1 Type 25.

• Whittling weight: obsession with lightness was a Chapman mantra throughout his life. It contributed hugely to the success of his cars, occasionally at an expense of strength and safety that scared off some drivers.

• Aerodynamic adventures: Chapman enjoyed aerodynamics — ‘a very absorbing subject’ — and was at the forefront of major F1 developments in this area.

• Discovering downforce: early insights with wings and wedge-shaped bodies, exemplified by his Types 56 (Indycar) and 72 (F1), led ultimately to the pioneering breakthrough of traction-enhancing ground effect, which reached full flowering with the F1 Lotus 79.

• Ludvigsen gives special attention to Chapman’s exploits at Indianapolis, where he and his cars transformed the nature of America’s premier race with stunning innovations far from the safety of home.

Format: 270x210mm
Page extent: 400pp
Illustration: 550 photos and diagrams

We deliver to addresses throughout the world.

UK Mainland delivery costs (under 2kg) by Royal Mail £5.00.

Books will normally be shipped within two working days of order. Estimated delivery times post shipment. UK: Up to 5 working days. Europe, Northern Ireland and Highlands and Islands: Up to 8 days. USA: Up to 12 days 

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR EU CUSTOMERS: Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) means that customers are responsible for paying the destination country's customs charges, duties. Regrettably parcels will sometimes be held by customs until any outstanding payments are made. Any payments not received may result in courier returning or in some cases destroying your books.

Unwanted products can be returned with the original packaging within 14 days of delivery. Returns will be at your own cost. 

If you receive a faulty or damaged item please contact for return and replacement information.

Full delivery and returns information

“Ludvigsen has written over 60 erudite books; this is surely one of his finest.” Steve Cropley, Autocar

“The standard work on the Lotus founder’s role as engineer-designer and the legacy of his innovations.” The Automobile

“Ludvigsen has taken on the challenge of separating genius from junk, truth from fiction… Highly recommended!” SpeedReaders

“Probing, thoroughly researched and fully deserving of a place on scholars’ shelves.” David Lucsko, Technology and Culture

“Karl Ludvigsen’s breadth of knowledge and depth of insight make this “An authoritative study as well as a highly readable one.” Classic Cars

“This portrait of one of our greatest engineers is fascinating.”
Motor Sport

“The author asks a lot of questions and his hunger for the answers has given rise to a momentous analysis of F1’s greatest innovator and maverick.”
Classic & Sports Car

Karl Eric Ludvigsen
With his biography of Reid Railton, Karl Ludvigsen adds a third notable engineer to his oeuvre of some five dozen titles. Railton’s predecessors are Volkswagen creator Ferdinand Porsche, in two volumes, and Lotus founder Colin Chapman. Other biographical subjects have been racing drivers Stirling Moss, Juan Fangio, Bruce McLaren, Emerson Fittipaldi, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart and Alberto Ascari.

For Ludvigsen authorship has been an integral part of a 65-year career that saw his first book — MG Guide — published in 1958. A passion for cars led to senior posts in the motor industry at General Motors, Fiat Motors of North America and Ford of Europe, the last requiring his move from America to Britain in 1980. In London he founded a management-consulting company, Ludvigsen Associates Limited, that he headed for 15 years.

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review

MORE BY Karl Ludvigsen

You may also like