Olav Glasius owns the largest collection of Lotus cars in Europe. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed on Friday 29th June 2012, where Lotus is the featured marque, he plans to sell the lot. The collection comprises 24 vehicles, all absolutely mint and some extremely rare, and will be auctioned by Bonhams.
A 61-year-old retired textile industrialist, Olav caught the Lotus bug early. Like many teenagers of his generation, he worshipped Jim Clark and yearned to get behind the wheel of a green-and-yellow single-seater. “The fuse was lit when I was 17,” remembers the Dutchman. “Clark was my hero, and I became obsessed with Lotus F1 cars, and also the Lotus Cortina he rallied”. Olav’s mother owned a white 1500cc Cortina, an ordinary Ford one, and remarkably “after a lot of negotiation” she allowed him to paint a green stripe down the side, the defining visual used on the Lotus saloon. He did this with some masking tape, a pot of emulsion paint, and a vacuum cleaner set to blow.
Prospective buyers will be relieved to hear that the Lotus Cortina in the Bonhams sale (shown right) is an original, and not his mother’s knock off.
After going into business, he bought his first Lotus aged 30 – a Seven S3. Next he bought the ‘real’ Cortina. And so on. Over time, the collection grew to 30 models. “If there was something special I would travel the world to get it. I was at every fair and Lotus auction.”
The collection has now outgrown the basement of Olav’s 16th Century home outside Amsterdam. Some reside in a purpose-built garage nearby. Others are kept in a warehouse in Northampton, England.
“The road cars were largely just for looking at, never driven,” says Olav, “but the racing cars were for racing. However, I stopped racing last year. It is time for others to enjoy these wonderful machines”.
The hardest to part with will be the Mk8 (shown right), says Olav. “I think it’s the most beautiful; the first of the streamlined Lotuses. It’s a masterpiece, with huge fins at the rear like on a Batmobile. They made six or seven, and this is the only original one in the world. It took me years to rebuild it.”
Absolutely unique are three concept cars; the M200, Project M250, and the Lotus Etna (shown below).
Twenty-four cars in all, they would make the most superb museum if kept together – only the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum’s collection in Alabama is bigger (46 Lotuses).
Glasius’ cars provide a unique window into the lifetime work of creator Colin Chapman. This represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Lotus collectors and classic car enthusiasts, and Bonhams expects the sale to exceed £1.5 million.
The only car Olav intends to keep is the first one, the Lotus Seven S3 he was so proud to buy in 1980 and the toy that started the collection in the first place. “My sons love it and they won’t let me sell it.”