Rac­ing re­unions and rev­e­la­tions

Classic Cars (UK) - - The Month In Cars -


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.


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 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.’


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

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