Porsche Powered Lotus 23

Lotus 23-Porsche

A Lotus Chassis. A Porsche 4-cam. Is it the best of both worlds?

George Follmer probably thought so.

George spent a good bit of the early 60’s lapping Southern California tracks in a variety of Porsches before he got the itch to move into sports prototypes. Naturally, a Lotus 23 fits the bill nicely. He set about modding the chassis to accept a Porsche 550 motor, before ultimately swapping it for the newer 904 powerplant. With the help of former Shelby American team-member, Bruce Burness, George knocked together one hell of a combination.

The 1,966 cc motor just eeks under 2-liters, and soon proved to be highly competitive in the class; taking 3rd in her debut race. The real beauty of the car though, was it’s consistency. Several weeks later, after a string of podiums and after their first class-win, the team realized that their point totals put them not only at the top of the class, but in the outright points lead for the the USRRC series. After an additional string of class wins at Bridgehampton, the Glen, and others; one maneater of a race was all that remained to determine if this little scrapper of a 2-liter car would steal the outright championship away from the big-bore boys. The Road America 500 Miles race.

Road America remains a giant of a track by American standards. For a low-powered (comparatively) car, 500 miles of it would be quite a task. But George finished 3rd behind Jim Hall’s mighty Chaparrals, clinching both the class and overall championships. George Follmer, of course, went on to a very successful career through the 70’s; racing everything from Formula 1 and Can-Am, to Nascar and Trans-Am. I’m guessing this little Lotus-Porsche remained a favorite of his despite the impressive array of machinery he would later compete in.

Today, Gooding & Co. offers the ex-George Follmer Lotus 23 through their private sales department. Wearing it’s original Trans Ocean Motors team livery, she’s a remarkably beautiful car. I particularly like the hand painted team logo and engine-turned gold leaf number 16. Gorgeous!

You can read the complete results of the Road America 500 Miles 1965 at the encyclopedic Racing Sports Cars results database.

1:42:08, George Lucas’ Student Film with Peter Brock

George Lucas’ early love affair with racing cars is well known. As a young teenager, he aspired to become a racing driver himself. Until a near-fatal crash on a public road in his race-prepped Bianchina made him reconsider. Of course, that passion for auto racing comes through in his films, particularly American Graffitti, and several sequences of the Star Wars movies.

Here’s a nugget in the Lucas works that I hadn’t seen before Jalopnik posted about it today: A student film Lucas directed at USC in 1966. Filmed with a 14 person crew of students at Willow Springs, 1:42:08 features Peter Brock behind the wheel of a borrowed Lotus 23. Apparently George made such a pest of himself at Shelby’s shop that Brock finally agreed to take part in the film.

It’s beautifully shot, wonderfully minimal, and lacks any dialogue at all—Just let that Lotus do the talking.