LOTUS 49s AT THE NEC
The seven surviving Lotus 49s formed an iconic display at Autosport International, marking the first time that all remaining examples of the sublime late 1960s Grand Prix car have been gathered together.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the car’s debut at Zandvoort in June 1967, Classic Team Lotus brought seven cars together in an unrivalled display that held visitors captivated across four days of the show.
Remarkably, all seven cars retain their original tub, as Classic Team Lotus boss Clive Chapman pointed out. “The odd panel here and there has been replaced but the fact that they are all the original cars is extraordinary,” he said of the design conceived by his father Colin.
Only nine 49s were originally built by Team Lotus and two were destroyed in period. Painted silhouettes of the two missing cars completed the line-up representing R1/R9, which was written off after Jochen Rindt’s 1969 Spanish Grand Prix accident and R4, which was destroyed in a welding fire at Rob Walker’s garage when being repaired after an accident in practice at Brands Hatch ahead of the 1968 Race of Champions.
Widely regarded as one of the all-time great Formula 1 designs, Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49 was conceived in conjunction with the all-new Cosworth DFV engine. The car won 12 of its 42 Grands Prix and took drivers’ titles with Graham Hill (1968) and Jochen Rindt, who raced an updated 49 over the first half of 1970.
Jim Clark gave the 49 a debut win at Zandvoort in 1967, while Jo Siffert won the 1968 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in Rob Walker’s privately-entered car.
The seven cars at the NEC included two from the collection of Richard Mille. Chassis R6 is ex-rindt and Hill, while chassis R12 was built for Ford as a display car. It first appeared at the 1969 Racing Car Show at Olympia and was later donated to the Donington Collection.
The ex-hill/john Love chassis R3 is owned by the National Motor Museum and chassis R5/R10 won at Monaco in 1968 with Hill. Emerson Fittipaldi later made his F1 debut in this car, which is retained by Classic Team Lotus.
American Chris Macallister still races R2/R11, originally Clark’s 1967 car, and is likely to run the car at Zandvoort this summer to mark half a century since its debut. Meanwhile, current F1 design genius Adrian Newey, who was on hand at the show, raced R8 at Monaco last season. Finally R7, the Siffert car, is now owned by Geoff Farmer, who raced it successfully at Goodwood soon after acquiring the car in 1999.
The cars were unveiled on Thursday morning by a group of period Team Lotus employees. “They shared such a great adventure,” said Clive Chapman of figures like Bob Dance, Dick Scammell, Mike Costin and Herbie Blash. “They are generally quiet and modest people so it was really nice that they were here to uncover the cars.”
Chapman says that chances of bringing the seven cars together again are relatively slim. “It always takes a bit of luck for something like this to happen and we’re looking after Chris Macallister’s car, so it was in the country.” ■
Seven examples of the iconic car were at the NEC
Graham Hill drove the Cosworth Dfv-powered Lotus 49 for the first time in 1967