Andy the Archivist
What’s the most fascinating job in the automotive world? Maybe it’s to be a CEO making million-pound decisions every day, or a Design Director sketching the top-secret next-generation performance cars.
For a certain type of petrolhead it might be the one held by Andy Graham. He works in the Lotus aftersales team as an Administrator… but that title doesn’t really do his job justice. Andy is the official gatekeeper to a hugely important part of the Norfolk company’s appeal – the Lotus archive.
It’s made up of hundreds of boxes of records, with each Lotus car having a document envelope containing the build book and any other related documents. The build books go back as far as the mid-1970s and prior to this single line entries exist in an invoice register.
The archive’s value comes from the fact that, because it’s all catalogued, Andy is able to provide customers with very detailed information about their cars. Requests range from build reports and specification documents to paint codes and general enquiries about provenance. For owners of classic Lotus cars, part of their satisfaction comes from keeping or restoring a vehicle to its original specification, so it’s just as it was when it left the factory. With the information stored in the archive, Andy can often provide exactly what they need.
Supporting the recently launched Certificate of Provenance programme is part of Andy’s job, and the car which received the first certificate – a 1981 Turbo Esprit used by Lotus founder Colin Chapman – is a great example of how the Lotus archive can validate provenance. A letter dated February 1983 and written by senior Lotus executive proved beyond any doubt the car in question was ‘for the exclusive use’ of Chapman. A copy is stored in Andy’s boxes for all time.
Andy explained: “Sometimes I receive requests from customers looking to validate TV or film cars, such as the Elan from The Avengers or the iconic Esprit cars from the various James Bond films. On these occasions, with cars of great public interest and value, you have to be incredibly vigilant with how, and with whom, you share information.”
Andy has been in the job since 2008, taking over from the previous archivist who had been responsible for formally establishing it as a library of paperwork. Andy was tasked with making it fully searchable in order to give it a commercial value. “Over the last 12 years I’ve set about tidying everything up, labelling and storing the boxes on racks, and generally moulding and shaping the archive into what it is today,” explained Andy.
He sees himself as playing a small part in preserving the history of Lotus, both for the company itself and for current and future Lotus owners. “We at Lotus have a responsibility to keep these records in good order. With the transformation of the brand that’s going on, the business is seeing our heritage with renewed interest and I’m passionate about preserving it.”
You can get in touch with Andy at AGraham@lotuscars.com