Found in the Archive — the Plural of Lotus

This Press release from Lotus Cars in June of 1969 quite clearly states the position of the company on the use of the name Lotus in it’s Plural form.

It was decreed that the ‘horrible’ words Loti and Lotuses were not popular with those who looked after the brand!

Interestingly, the press release goes on to clarify the then current model range with respect to their naming. It seems the Type 50 that was originally called quite simply the Lotus +2 was now being referred to as what everybody had decided it was anyway, the Lotus Elan +2. At least on paper, (the physical cars still didn’t have a badge that said ‘Elan’).

We also thought it would be nice to show the Type 62 that is mentioned. This image from the archive shows John Miles taking the car to fourth place in the ‘Trophy of the Dunes’ at Zandvoort in 1969. What a great looking car!

MODEL OF THE MONTH – 1968 Lotus Type 56 Indycar

Auto-Archives recently received the first group of models from the Steven Williams collection that will form part of a significant donation to the archive.

Steven Williams has been building and collecting model cars and airplanes for many years now and his collection is one of the most impressive we have come across in quite a while. We are honored that over the next year Steven will be donating most of his collection to Auto-Archives and entrusting us with a group of models that really does tell ‘The History of the Automobile’ in all its forms. There are some truly wonderful models in his collection and, after discussion on just where to begin, Steven made the decision to start with some of his Indy 500 models.

The first batch of 25 models that are now on display at the offices of Coterie Press  in Littleton, CO., included this highly distinctive Carousel 1:18 scale model of the #60 Team Lotus Type 56 4WD Indy Turbine car driven by Joe Leonard in the 1968 Indy 500. Leonard was leading the 500 with just a handful of laps to go when the a fuel pump shaft failed and he coasted to a halt only a few miles short of what would have been another historic victory for Team Lotus.

Found in the Archive — Lotus Works Hornsey

Working on some research for a publisher we came across these really interesting press shots of mechanics working on a new Batch of Lotus Elevens inside the Lotus works in Tottenham Lane, Hornsey and one in the yard outside. I say ‘Press Shots’ as I question if there really would have been seven mechanics working on the cars at one time! I think this photo was taken around early in 1957 but can’t be sure. If anyone can help with and information on when this might have been taken, the car, or who any of the people in the image are, please do email us. It would be nice to put some names to the faces!

Car of the Month — 1967 Lotus Cortina Mk2

The story of the Cortina Lotus began in 1961 when Colin Chapman commissioned Harry Mundy to design a twin-cam version of the Ford ‘Kent’ engine. Most of the development of the engine was done on the 997cc and 1,340cc Ford engine, but when in 1962 Ford released the 116E five bearing 1,499 cc engine, work centered on this. Keith Duckworth, from Cosworth, played an important part in developing the engine. The 1,499cc power unit first appeared in a production Lotus, the Elan in 1962, but it was soon replaced with a larger capacity 1,557cc unit. This was in order to get the car closer to the 1.6-litre capacity class in motorsport. While the engine was being developed, Walter Hayes of Ford asked Colin Chapman if he would fit the engine into 1,000 Ford saloons (sedans) for Group 2 homologation.

Chapman quickly accepted, and the Lotus Type 28 or Lotus Cortina or Cortina Lotus (as Ford liked to call it) was launched in 1963. Ford supplied the 2-door Cortina bodyshells and took care of all the marketing and selling of the cars, whilst Lotus did all the mechanical and cosmetic changes. The major changes involved installing the 1,558cc engine, together with the same close-ratio gearbox as the Elan. The rear suspension was drastically altered and lightweight alloy panels were used for doors, bonnet (hood) and boot (trunk). Lightweight casings were fitted to gearbox and differential.

All the Lotus factory cars were painted white with a green stripe (although Ford built some for racing in red, and one customer had a dark blue stripe due to being superstitious about green). The cars also received front quarter bumpers and round Lotus badges were fitted to rear wings and to the radiator grille. Ford wanted to change a few things on the Lotus version of the new Mk2 Cortina that was to be launched in 1966. The Mk1 had done all and more than they could expect in competition, but the public linked its competition wins with Lotus and its bad points with Ford.

Ford still wanted to build a Mk2 Lotus and compete with it, but Lotus were fully occupied with their move from Cheshunt to Hethel, so a decision was made at Ford that to continue with production themselves. To make the car more cost effective they would make the car at Dagenham, alongside the other Cortinas. So that it could be made alongside Mk2 GT production, The Mk2 needed to be easier to build than the Mk1 and was pretty much a GT with not much more than a different engine and suspension. The Lotus edition of the Mk2 took a while to appear, first appearing in 1967. The only cosmetic changes made from the GT were a black front grille, 5.5×13 steel wheels (The Mk2 was a wider car than the Mk1, so although they looked the same, the steel wheels had a different offset so as not to upset the tracking, and radial tyres were now standard) and Lotus badges on rear wings and by the rear number plate. Only a few months after production started, the Lotus badge on the rear panel was cancelled and a new TWIN CAM badge was fitted under the Cortina script on the boot lid. Unlike the Mk1, the Mk2 was also made in left hand drive from the start of production.

The Mk2 Cortina Lotus also gained an improved and more powerful (109bhp) engine, the gearbox remained the same but the car now used the Mk2 GT remote-control gearchange. Another attraction was the larger fuel tank. The spare wheel could now be mounted in its wheel well, but the battery remained in the boot to aid weight distribution. The only real difference to the engine bay was the air cleaner mounted on top of the engine. The interior was almost identical to a GT, and the Mk2 did exactly what Ford wanted, it was far more reliable whilst still quick enough to be used in competition, until it was replaced by the Escort Twin Cam. The Mk2 Lotus Cortina stayed in production until 1970. In 1967, the works Lotus race team ran a pair of Mk2 Cortinas in the British Saloon Car Championship.

Driven by F1 drivers Graham Hill, Jacky Ickx and Paul Hawkins, the cars ran with a special fuel-injected engine and were always spectacular. The 1967 Lotus-Cortina Mk2 racecar on display this month was built up from a genuine Lotus Cortina street car by Denver based race team 3R in 1998 and is raced by owner and Lotus expert William Taylor in local Vintage race events when time permits. The fully developed and lightened car develops around 175bhp from its full-race engine.





Image of the Month — Remembering Daytona


Last year’s Daytona 500 Grand National Winner, Marvin Panch, who copped first place in the automobile racing classic with a record 149.601 miles per hour poses with 1962 Dodge Dart which he will drive in this year’s race February 18th.

Watching the Daytona 500 last weekend got us thinking about past Daytona 500 races and some of the stars of the day that we have forgotten. A delve into the archive produced this image of NASCAR legend Marvin Panch alongside a rather ‘stock’ looking Pontiac.

“Pancho,” most well known for his 1961 Daytona 500 victory driving for Smokey Yunick, scored 17 victories in his 15 years of racing in the NASCAR series. Driving for Wood Brothers Racing from 1962-66, Panch also had 21 poles and 126 top ten finishes in his Cup Series racing career. He finished his career driving for Petty Enterprises.

Panch’s 1961 Daytona 500 win was his first victory in NASCAR’s top division since 1957, establishing what was then a speed record for a 500-mile race at 149.601 mph. This record pace was no doubt helped by the fact that, incredibly, the entire 500-mile race was run without a single caution flag period. The caution free event was one of only three times that the iconic race ran the entire distance under green, with 1959 and 1962 being the only other two times it occurred.

“I was just setting a steady pace,” Panch modestly explained to the Daytona Beach paper, hours after his victory in a year-old Pontiac Catalina, the only non-1962 car in the field. Marvin took the lead on lap 187 of the 200 lap race when pole sitter and race leader ‘Fireball’ Roberts suffered a blown engine, and completed the race on just one change of tires. This would be the first of just three victories for Pontiac in the legendary Daytona 500, Fireball Roberts took a much deserved win for Pontiac in 1962 and Cale Yarborough the only other victory for the marque in 1983.

Just two years after his historic victory, on February 14th, 1963 at Daytona International Speedway, Panch escaped death in a fiery crash, driving an experimental Ford-powered Maserati in a test session. He suffered serious internal injuries and severe burns to his back, neck and hands. Among his rescuers was a South Carolinian racer named Tiny Lund, who won the Carnegie Medal for heroism for his actions. “We just jumped in and gave him a hand,” Lund told the Daytona Beach News-Journal shortly after the crash. “Marvin would have done the same for us.” Just ten days later, Lund drove the Wood Brothers No. 21 entry earmarked for Panch, to his first premier series victory in the 1963 Daytona 500.

After a hospital stay of several weeks, Panch announced in late April that he would return from his injuries in June at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual 600-mile race. He closed the 1963 season with three pole positions, a victory at North Wilkesboro Speedway in September, and top-10 finishes in all 12 of his starts for the remainder of the year.

Panch concluded his final year of competition for a variety of car owners, scoring his final victory in the World 600 at Charlotte. He announced his retirement from the sport on Dec. 6, 1966 at age 40, telling The Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald that his only regret was not winning at Darlington Raceway, NASCAR’s first superspeedway. Panch ruled out a comeback attempt, even though he declared his health the best it had been since claiming his lone Daytona 500 triumph. “I don’t have much more to gain by racing,” he told the Spartanburg paper. “Actually, I’ve been thinking about quitting for about a year. Just waiting for the right time.”

In 1963 Panch was presented the Myers Brothers Award to honor his outstanding contributions to the sport of stock-car racing, in 1987 was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and in 1998 he was named one of the top 50 drivers by NASCAR.

On Dec 31st 2015, following Panch’s death at the age of 89, NASCAR released the following statement. “For more than 60 years, Marvin Panch was a familiar and friendly face around NASCAR and Daytona Beach. He was one of the true pioneers of the sport, winning races across several NASCAR divisions, including the 1961 Daytona 500. As one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, he represented the sport with class both on and off the track. Marvin will be missed dearly, especially as we approach Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, where he was a fixture.”