Racing reunions and revelations
The seven remaining Lotus 49s – out of nine originally built – were reunited at the NEC to celebrate 50 years of the victorious Formula One car and its legendary powerplant, the Cosworth DFV. ‘I’m afraid I don’t remember the photo,’ said Clive Chapman, managing director of Classic Team Lotus and son of marque founder Colin Chapman, referring to an image of himself aged seven sitting behind the wheel of chassis R12, ‘but this car never actually raced in period. It was built to exhibit at motor shows, starting with the 1969 Racing Car Show at Olympia. It was donated to the Donington Collection, but four years ago it was sold to Richard Mille, who recommissioned it so it can race for the first time.
‘I certainly do remember chassis R6, though.’ Originally built for Jackie Oliver, who crashed it in practice for the 1968 French Grand Prix, it was used by Graham Hill to win in Mexico, a race that sealed his World Drivers’ Championship victory, before Jochen Rindt took its wheel in 1969 and 1970. ‘I was at Brands Hatch in 1969,’ Chapman recalls. ‘It was the last lap, Jack Brabham had a big lead and we all expected him to win. However, I remember
seeing Jochen coming first into Clearways – it was at that moment we knew Brabham must have run into mechanical difficulties.
‘Jochen’s car differed from the others in having an air scoop at the front. He specified it for his comfort, to channel air into the cockpit.’
Another ex-rindt car with significant differences to other 49s is chassis R10. It was originally R5, raced by Hill and Mario Andretti in 1968, before being repurposed for Rindt to race in the Tasman series in Australia and New Zealand. ‘ The rear bodywork is different, with higher cut- outs to clear the rear radial struts, as they needed different geometry to cope with bumpier surfaces,’ explained Chapman.
LOTUS TYPE 66
Existing only as a series of drawings by draughtsman Geoff Ferris, transferred to microfilm and hidden in a fireproof case since the Eighties, the Lotus Type 66 Can-am car made a public debut of sorts 48 years late.
‘It would’ve featured a “stockblock” Chevy V8,’ said Clive Chapman. ‘Geoff Ferris proposed fitting the car with high-mounted wings, even after the ban following the disaster at the 1969 Spanish Grand Prix, but Colin wanted them integrated into the bodywork, creating one of the first wedge-shaped cars.
‘Had it been built it would have raced in the 1970 Can-am season, although Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi would have been too heavily involved with Formula One to compete in it. We would probably have employed American drivers, or even marketed the 66 to privateers as a customer car.
‘Eventually, the finances just didn’t add up. Team Lotus was too stretched across Formulas One, Two, Three, 5000 and Ford at the time and Can-am would have been too big a commitment, even though it was massively popular and would have led to more US sales of road cars.’
WILLIAMS FW06 & FW14
Williams dominated the show with a huge multimedia-installation stand featuring its greatest Formula One cars, along with suits and helmets belonging to Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, all augmented with reminiscences from engineer Frank Dernie.
‘It all happened very quickly,’ said Dernie. ‘Frank Williams and Patrick Head set up shop in an old carpet warehouse in Didcot in 1977; we built our first car to compete in the 1978 season. Williams had been buying cars from March Engineering, but the 1978 FW06 was the first chassis we designed and built ourselves.
‘ There were only four engineers: Patrick in charge, and a research and development team consisting of two people. Despite being such a small team, Colin Chapman still went crawling under our car at Silverstone trying to figure out how it worked.’
The team ran to unusually tight budgets, even at the height of its success. ‘Nigel Mansell’s Honda Turbo cars of 1986/7 were the first we designed using computer-aided design (CAD),’ said Dernie.
‘Patrick wasn’t a fan of computers and didn’t approve, but we needed to improve airflow over the rear wing and engine cover. Instead I went to Frank Williams, who said “you can use a CAD system if you can get one for free,” so I did, in return for two advertising stickers on the car! Surprisingly it led to us designing a smaller engine cover.’
FORD SIERRA RS500S
The Ford Sierra RS500 celebrated its 30th anniversary in style, with the Owners’ Club amassing a collection of ten racing versions, some of which had been restored specially for the show. Paul Linfoot of North Yorkshire RS Spares was involved in much of
‘Frank Dernie got a CAD system for free, in return for two advertising stickers on the Williams Formula One car’
the preparation work, and some of the cars had secrets to tell.
‘ The Suntec Shimiza-run Japanese Touring Car was actually built by Andy Rouse Engineering and shipped over, where it won the Sugo 300 in 1988 with Mauricio Sala and Eje Elgh, and the 1989 Nippon 300 with Mauro Martini and Jeff Krosnoff. Then it was shipped to Australia, where it was completely stripped down and rebuilt with a new engine, gearbox and rose-jointed suspension. Its owner was going to race it, but instead sold it to Raphael de Borman.
‘A lot of RS500S ended up in Japan and Australia after being banned in Europe,’ says Linfoot. ‘ The Mach 5sponsored car was the last- ever RS500, chassis 9402, built by Graham Goode in 1994 – six years after all the others for the Malaysian Touring Car Championship, which it won.
‘It has a huge cooling system mounted in the passenger-seat space, and water- cooled AP brakes to cope with the humidity. A lot was bespoke – in Malaysia by 1994 thanks to devolved touring- car rules you could do what you wanted. Goode homologated a lot of parts including 18-inch wheels and a six-speed gearbox. It was undefeated in the 1994 MTCC, winning every race.’
Closer to home, RS500S featured more devious modifications, as Fina’s 1988/89 British Touring Car Championship entry revealed. ‘As well as Fina unleaded fuel – which was a promotional thing to break the stigma at the time that unleaded damaged engines and lowered power outputs – it was running an electronically controlled active suspension system,’ said Linfoot.
‘It was part of the Fina team’s experimental remit, but would never have got past the scrutineers, hence why it was put on a middle- of-thepack car. I suppose Ford figured that it would either ruin or make the car without attracting too much attention in the process.
‘Precisely who fitted it or built the system is a mystery. No records or pictures were taken of it as it was against the homologation regulations. Had it started winning races, no doubt the scrutineers would have found out!’
Drawings of still-born Lotus Type 66 Can-am car revealed at Autosport Original design for Type 66 featured high-mounted wings Williams FW14: post-cad design Williams FW06: first in-house chassis
The last ever RS500, built in 1994, took the Malaysian Touring Car title
Fina British Touring Car had ruledodging active suspension