Lotus Elan

London sports car centre

PostPost by: mcclelland » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:58 pm

Hello all,
I need some help / information and hope someone may be able to assist. Has anyone any information on the London sports car centre, address, when it ceased trading, was it a Lotus dealer, etc. Any info would be gratefully received. Many thanks in advance, George...
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PostPost by: Heuer » Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:25 pm

Yes. I recently met someone who worked there and also at the Chequered Flag. He used to 'build' Elan's in house for £20 a time (he could do two a day and reckons he did 200!) until he was copped by the Excise people. After that he had to do it during the evenings at the new owners premises. He had lots of stories to tell. Unfortunately we were brought together through tragedy, the untimely death of my friend and his brother in law in a racing accident, so the opportunity to talk was limited. I hope to continue the Elan dialogue at a more appropriate time. Was there anything specific you were interested in?
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:16 am

George

The London Sports Car Centre were based on the High Street, Edgeware (I understand they moved in in 1966). They called themselves 'Englands largest Lotus and MG specialists'. They had a distinctive advertisement banner of their name in white against a black background. They regularly advertised in Motor Sport in the 1960s and 1970s.

I am looking at such an advert from the May 1972 Motor Sport. They are advertising 3 +2s, 2 Sprints, 2 S4s and 2 Europas. There is also listed 4 MGs, 3 Triumphs and 17 American cars, mostly new or nearly new Pontiac Firebirds (which I seem to recall came with a garish firebird painted on the bonnet/hood). 8 miscellaneous cars are listed and include a 1969 Lotus Cortina - obviously not mainstream sports car enough!

For additional information, the advert says they are 2 minutes from the M1 actually on the A5, gives main, service and stores telephone numbers, as well as a Telex number and says they are open from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm.

They were active in motor sport and used some famous saloon car drivers.
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PostPost by: 512BB » Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:09 am

As I recall, were there not 2 entities in Edgware. There was the London Sports Car Centre AND The London Lotus Service Centre. They were not related. The former was owned at one time by a guy called Tony Hilderbrand, and when we were teenagers, after a night out and a few sherbuts, we would go along to his showroom with our bag of chips, and press our noses up to the window and ogle at the fabulous cars on display.

Then there was The London Lotus Centre about 150 yards further up the road, where I would occasionally buy the odd part for my Elan, as they were very expensive. Chris Neil had just come on the scene and that was where most people bought parts. I dont remember there being a showroom at the LLC, and after them being there for many years, I believe the company changed hands and moved to Chiswell Green, near St Albans. That was around 1990, as I am looking at an invoice now.

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PostPost by: Heuer » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:55 pm

There was also a relationship between the London Sports Car Centre and The Chequered Flag - LSCC partnership that broke up and one of them set up Chequered Flag I believe.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:12 pm

512BB wrote:I believe the company changed hands and moved to Chiswell Green, near St Albans. That was around 1990, as I am looking at an invoice now.


Just found a LCC advert in Club Lotus News Spring 1992. Says 'Our new facility is located just 800 yards from Junction 21A of the M25' and the address is 318 Watford Rd Chiswell Green, St Albans.

It also says ' We are pleased to report all our present staff will be making the move with us.'

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PostPost by: billwill » Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:09 pm

I often bought parts from them when they were in Edgware and just once when they moved out of town.

In Edgware it was handy, because they were just across the road from the car trimmings shop, whose name I have forgotten.
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PostPost by: AlfaLofa » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:45 am

I used to live in Edgware and often paid visits to the London Sports Car (Service) Centre to keep my Elan on the road.

The LSC (Service ) Centre Ltd was in Ballards Yard on the left just north of the cross roads close to what was the Bee Hive pub (Wild nights were had by all in there!!)

They were still at Ballards Yard in 1975 as I still have receipts from that period.

I bought a replacement chassis for my car from the LSC (Service) Centre in November 74. A couple of days later it arrived at my (Mum's) house strapped to the roof of an Escort van. Fantastic service and no extra charge for the delivery !!

The car trim place was I think just called Edgware Trim and as stated was also in Ballards Yard. The trim business is still going (http://www.rubbertrim.co.uk/)
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PostPost by: SL63 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:06 pm

I lived in Bushey Heath in 1970, drove an Austin A35 which cost £30 and was waiting to go to University that September. As I was car mad my Mum decided to take it on herself to approach the London Sports Car Centre to get me a job.

Unfortunately I can't remember his name (was it Alan?) but I was interviewed by the Managing Director who must have had a real laugh at me turning up in a suit, in an A35 with my Mum who was the bank teller he always used when depositing money. I was 18!!

Anyhow I was offered a job as a car washer, on £14 a week, and I went back to school to sit my A levels. On returning I turned up at the LSSC to be told that a professional car washer has been hired in the meantime and the job was gone. Heartbroken I was but within a few minutes it became clear to them that I could work with Peter, surname forgotten, as a delivery driver which pleased me no end. I had to hide the A35 as part of the deal.

Have to admit I had the time of my life delivering Elans (complete and in kit form), Jag E types, 3 litre Capris, 912's, 911's, Astons and the rest and Peter was a great driving tutor. Also Steve Soper's Dad had a tyre place somewhere close and we'd use them for new rubber when required. I ran into Steve at a corporate do a couple of years ago but unfortunately he didn't remember me. I think he has a BMW dealership in Lincoln now.

I was put to a test on first being given the job and had to go up the road past the Beehive pub, down a narrow lane to where the workshop was to a get a lightweight E type down from a ramp, out of the workshop into the narrow lane, back to the showroom and place it using a hydraulic jack. The problem was they'd deliberately drained it of fuel so I ran out of fuel at the traffic lights and had to be pushed by lorry drivers the rest of the way which created a great deal of hilarity in the showroom. I passed the test and spent 3 great driving months with Peter.

When I was there they had a showroom which faced the Edgware Road and a large garage at the back (I think) with customer cars etc in it. They kept customer cars while they were overseas on business and we'd go to Heathrow to pick them up.

Anyhow I'm 59 now but would still be doing that job for £14 a week as it was the best time I ever had work wise. They used to lend me Elans for the weekend. Can you imagine??

If anyone can remember the full names of the other driver, Peter ? and the MD, sure it's Alan ?? I'd be grateful to know.

I'd really like to hear from people who have any history from that great establishment.

Andrew
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PostPost by: billwill » Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:30 pm

You might have delivered my chassis in 1978 as I think I bought it through LSSC.
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PostPost by: john-c-elan+2 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:18 pm

Hi Chaps, If any of you are lucky enough to have a copy of Club Lotus News, dated 1991
issue 3 there is a 2 page article by Graham Arnold on said garage. Andrew was right as his name was Alan Foster. I quote 'The two founders were Alan Foster & Peter Rudge'. 'Gone are the days when Alan Foster had a big cinema organ in the showroom and we would pay ghostly music, with all the lights out, at 2am after the clubs closed, these are serious times'. 'But London Lotus Centre, previously London Sportscar Centre and originally Chequered Flag Edgware is probably the longest serving Lotus dealership anywhere in the world'. 'We were not to know that London Lotus Centre now has a (small) really attractive
showroom in Edgware Rd, almost OPPOSITE thier ENORMOUS OLD PREMISES, soon to be vacated by Straight Six Cars'. There is more but above is most relevant to questions asked on here.
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PostPost by: jrudge » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:18 pm

Hello, I am the son of Peter Rudge and found this post by chance. Some history if it is of use ...

LSCC was formed by Peter Rudge and Alan Foster. They met at the Chequered Flag in Chiswick and bought their Edgeware Branch which became LSCC.

Peter ran the back office, Alan the selling.

The business traded form High Street Edgeware - now a rather ugly budist temple! - and has stores and service facilites in Ballards Mews about 300 years up the road. The High Street premesis was given up and the whole operation moved to Ballards Mews at some point but I cant remember when. For a time they regained a High Street site next to Allweathers (now a Peaugeot dealer I think) to comply with a lotus requirement that if you wanted to remain a dealer you had to have a High Street site - the order book for the Elan Mk2 went to their head a bit!

The business was moved to St Albans about 15 years ago and then sold as a going concern to a dealer group. The premesis are now a Ferarri agent.

The main dealership they had was Lotus and as some previous posts state they also had MG and also Alfa Romeo. The move to St Albans allowed then to split the business in 3 - Sports Cars, Jeep and Suzuki.

Americal cars were big business for a time as were the import of Americal Motor Homes. Alan Foster was a reasonably successful club racing driver and when he turned up at race meetings with an airconditioned, centrally heated, hot and cold running water motor home it was no real surprise that about 100 other people weanted one!

Alan Foster died some 8-10 years ago. Peter Rudge is still alive and well.

Happy days.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:46 pm

Thanks for the update, it was good of you to take the time to do so.

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PostPost by: johnthebridge » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:38 pm

Apologies for late reply, but I've only just come across this site. I worked as a salesman at the LSCC from 1971-1979, and I can honestly say that they were the best years of my working life. Alan Foster was an absolute gentleman of the old school. A more than proficient musician, ATF, as he was known, would belt a tune out on the organ, which was kept in the showroom, the theme of the piece usually reflecting his mood. So we might go from a rousing rendition of "We're in the money", if a particularly successful sale had been made, on to a Bach Cantata, if sales were flagging. Working for Alan wasn't really like a "proper job", and as a bloke in his 20s, I revelled daily in the sheer delight of the place. Along with the more run of the mill Loti, Alfas and MGs (our franchised bread and butter) the showroom invariably contained hardware such as GT40s, Boxers, Daytonas, Meraks, Boras, Corvettes, Panteras, Isos, 911s and a large "collection" of Lamborghinis, which were invariably supplied by a London trader called Tony "Monkey" Brown. Alan appeared to be in thrall to Monkey, and could never resist his Irish patter, so we became the proud possessors of various piles of rusting, recalcitrant Italian "supercars". One, a 2.5 Uracco, painted in a vile metallic purplish pink paint, was a particular hatred of mine. Along with sundry track cars we sold, a special highlight we had for sale was Jack Le Fort's Lola T70, which I thought was the sexiest of them all. Cor, and didn't it sound good!
Our car cleaner/driver was an ex-army officer chap called John Hindley-Cook, who was an excellent mimic, and his daily driver was a very early flat floor fixed head E-type, with the registration 578 WJE/M(?). Still about? Cookie could imitate any of our customers, which lead to some hilarious moments. Now out of space, sorry. Anybody interested in hearing more, please contact me.
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PostPost by: jimj » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:35 am

I had a rather different experience: I`d bought my 4th Elan, a Sprint and my first brand new car, in March `73 to save the purchase tax/VAT for around £2100 I think. Shortly after Middle East ruckus and the "oil crisis" devastated secondhand values and the following year, marriage and the need for furniture meant the Elan had to go and I struggled to sell it. London Sports Car Centre offered £1750 if I delivered the car to Edgeware.
No doubt an old trick but despicable nonetheless; when I arrived no-one knew anything abouth the £1750 offer, "must `ave been a bloke who`s left" "blah, blah." The most they could POSSIBLY offer was £1450. I really needed the money so accepted the cash before expressing my opinion of their parentage and lack of happiness.
I still feel bitter, so, johnthebridge, if you ever meet any of the then salesmen, please poke `em in the eye for me.
Jim
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