Joseph Lucas founded Lucas Industries as a Birmingham-based lamp works in 1872. The company would eventually become a leading supplier of electronic components to the motor trade.
By the mid-20th century Lucas systems had found their way onto the roads of Britain and beyond. Unfortunately for Lucas-lit motorists, the brand’s electrical components were extremely unreliable. A Lucas system could turn any car into a low-light death trap.
Enthusiasts of vintage British cars refer to Lucas Industries as the “inventor of the self-dimming headlamp” and claim the “LUCAS” acronym stands for “Loose Unsoldered Connections And Splices”.
In (dangerously low) light of these facts it would be nice to think that the man dubbed “The Prince Of Darkness” really gave this piece of advice before his death in 1904.
“Never drive at night.”
Lucas Industries’ bad reputation persisted for decades after the main man’s death so this set of famous last words may be more open to retrospective embellishment than others in this series. If it is real, could it be possible that the whole company took the sentiment behind Joseph Lucas’ other famous quote to heart? We all know the type of insalubrious activities that go on under cover of darkness. Does proper lighting facilitate improper behaviour?
“A gentleman does not motor around after dark.”
The pieces below hopefully illustrate one of the less serious things that could happen on a night drive if your car was fitted with vintage Lucas electronics. The typeface in use is Populaire. All of the imperfections are inspired by the less than first-rate products of the Lucas brand.
I’ve always thought of orange, purple and apple green as something of a Holy Trinity.
Dark, red and pleasingly textured. A bit like a healthy liver if you think about it.
This combo goes by the moniker “Choco-Kiwi”. It’s a way 1970s palette, hopefully evocative of British Leyland assembled cars, many of which were fitted with Lucas lights.
Feel free to tell me what you think of the project so far in the comments below. If you’re able to shed a little light on some of your favourite “Famous Last Words” you should probably do that in the comments section too.
I hope this post has been illuminating. Well, at least more illuminating than a set of vintage Lucas headlamps.