Terrible Angel

The 1957 Lotus Type 14 was uncommonly beautiful, brilliantly courageous but ultimately doomed.

Image: MK14 Components

“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic Orders? And even if one were to suddenly take me to its heart, I would vanish into its stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear, and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible.”  René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke – First Elegy.

Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman was no angel, but a visionary, risk-taker, rascal, genius? He’s been called many of these things and indeed some of them may Continue reading “Terrible Angel”

Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin & Sayer, Part Three

Driven To Write concludes its examination of Britain’s aerodynamic pioneers – Frank Costin and Malcolm Sayer

Costin Amigo - photo via marcoscars.net
Costin Amigo – photo: marcoscars.net

We’ve seen how both Costin and Sayer’s career trajectories dovetailed but the similarities between the two men run deeper still. Both men emerged from the aircraft industry – a place where ego and self aggrandisement were frowned upon. Hence both were publicity-shy, quietly spoken men with broader interests outside the automotive world.

Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin & Sayer, Part Three”

Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin & Sayer, Part Two

In this second part, Driven To Write continues its examination of Britain’s twin aerodynamic pioneers – Frank Costin and Malcolm Sayer

Lotus Eleven - photo via lotuseleven.org
The delicate wind cheating lines of the Lotus Eleven – photo: lotuseleven.org

By 1953, Frank Costin too had gravitated to the racetracks, becoming involved with the fledgling Lotus company and with Sayer’s services already secured by Jaguar, Costin rapidly became the freelance aerodynamicist to work with, if race victory was your aim. His work with fellow ex-De Havilland engineer, Colin Chapman produced the body skin shapes for Mark’s Eight though to Eleven, including some detail aerodynamic changes to Peter Kirwin-Taylor’s Type 49 Elite. His designs combined low drag, stability and clever use of airflow – his understanding of air pressures, ducting and how they could be used for cooling and extraction meant that Costin’s designs may not have always been easy on the eye, but they worked.

Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin & Sayer, Part Two”

Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin and Sayer Part One

Britain’s Aerodynamic Pioneers – Frank Costin and Malcolm Sayer profiled.


In the years prior to World War Two, developments in aeronautics led to rapid growth in the science of aerodynamics. Through the war years, aerodynamicists continued the pioneering research begun during the 1930’s into streamlining, but now with an added dimension – applied science. The use of wind tunnels allowed engineers to properly assess the behaviour of aircraft in simulated flight and more accurately determine the most efficient shapes.  Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin and Sayer Part One”

Theme : Aerodynamics – Buttresses, A User Guide

Driven To Write attempts to decipher an aerodynamic staple but finds the going surprisingly turbulent.

york cathedral
Flying buttresses on York Cathedral. Image unknown.

In architectural terms, a buttress is defined as a structural member built against or projecting from a wall serving as a support or reinforcement. They were more prevalent at a period when structural engineering was more of a naive art, employed as a support against sideways forces. As architect’s skills developed, the need for buttressing decreased, latterly viewed as something of an admission of failure, much like an air dam or spoiler in automotive terms. There are several types of architectural buttresses, the most visually spectacular probably being the ‘flying buttress’, a structural device used in the design of many Gothic cathedrals.

Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – Buttresses, A User Guide”