Arnie Johnson Tribute No. 21: WE WILL MISS YOU
by Bob Metz
I met Arnie for the first time when I bought my second Esprit, an ’89 Turbo that was owned by his former U.S. Sales Manager who had moved on to a boring job with another car manufacturer. Amie knew this car very well and was very positive about it and its worth, so I went ahead with the purchase. I got the chance to visit him in the LCU headquarters and he gave me much of his afternoon during my visit.
Arnie shared a lot I would need to know about the car – my ‘new’ one and the Turbo Esprit in general. It helped to give me a lot of confidence to drive this car home from Raleigh-Durham to Denver. That trip led to the beginning of many long road trips and a lot of joy for the 9-1 /2 years I owned the car.
It is widely known that Arnie single-handedly influenced the factory and management to bring the Elise to the U.S. Without Arnie’s direct, untiring efforts, Lotus would have disappeared from our market, and likely never returned. I was a direct beneficiary of his efforts when I bought my ’05 Elise and took delivery on New Year’s Eve 2004.
I found that when you knew Arnie, you had a friendship that lasted. One of my favorite examples of his (typical) helpfulness to a Lotus owner was when Lotus Limited had its most westerly LOG in Las Vegas. I had recently had service done on my new-ish Elise and found that some hardware for the undertray was missing halfway to the event (from an east coast sidetrip!).
I sent Arnie a pleading email, knowing he was going to attend the event, and asked if he could get the missing hardware to me in LV so I could complete my trip with confidence. Arnie handdelivered the parts and then made sure I had the tool needed to install the hardware – on the floor of the garage at the LOG hotel in LV. Sec ifyou can getthat kind ofhelp from the head of any other car company importer or service!
These kinds of tales are told by so many of our fellows who interacted with Arnie- direct dirtyhands assistance whenever he was asked, and so free ly offered. Just ask for advice and watch out – he’d be elbow-deep in, around, and under the car- the finest example of why our ownership and enthusiasm of Lotus in the U.S. and North America as a whole is so strong. Arnie, we will miss you and your enduring friendship, enthusiasm, and kind heart. Godspeed.