LO­TUS 49s AT THE NEC

Motor Sport News - - Historics -

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

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