British Pathé: Jim Clark Wins Again

I feel like British Pathé could have used this title for dozens of their recaps of races in the 1960s. This time though, “Jim Clark Wins Again” is referring to the 1964 International Trophy race at Goodwood. Bad luck for Graham Hill that year, but always good for us to see historic footage of Goodwood that we can compare with the miraculous effort they’ve made preserving it for the modern age. What better way to ease into next weekend’s Goodwood 74th Members Meeting, which this year will be live streamed. Thanks for that, Goodwood.

Factories at Work: Lotus in the Elan Years

Lotus Elite: This is the World

Lotus Elite Ad

Lotus Elite
This is the World
1216cc of Aluminum OHC Coventry Climax Engine pumping out 120 MPH, 10 sec. acceleration times—35 to 40 MPG — All in the same car!!! Six-Footers stretch out, the trunk carries a golf bar, or two suitcases — All in the same car!!! the most beautiful car in the World. 30 MPH corners at 45, fantastic braking, a “modified car with a roof on it” — All in the same car!!! And the above is all standard equipment at 4780 POE. For the man who owned an MGTC in 1947, a Jaguar 120 Coupe in 1952, a Porsche in 1953, or an Alfa in 1956. Here is your Advanced World of Motoring — The race bred Lotus Elite……

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Lotus: The blood line is racing. The breed is speed.

A Vintage Racer Vintage Racing

Jimmy Clark in Ford Model T Sprint Car

This photo of Jim Clark in a Model-T Sprint Car almost breaks my brain. It only makes sense for Jimmy in the context of the celebrations surrounding the Indianapolis 500.

This photo was included in a Ford press release for the race and their 495 horsepower V8 that would power the Lotus-Ford in the race. What better way to showcase Ford’s history with the 500 and demonstrate 48 years of automotive engineering maturity than to contrast these two racing machines—each at the pinnacle of technology for their time. Magnificent.

More at Auto Gift Garage.

The Joys of Lotus Motoring

Lotus Ad in BARC Gazette, 1961

Begone Dull Care!

Let the spirited Elite introduce you to the joys of Lotus motoring, derived from unique specification: glass-reinforced plastic unitary construction all independent suspension, four wheel disc brakes, Coventry Climax 1214 cc power unite. Lotus Elite – LeMans 1960— 1300 cc class First, Index of Thermal Efficiency First. Manufactured and distributed by: LOTUS Cars Ltd. Delamare Road, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. Telephone Waltham Cross 26181.

Wow. Now there’s an unformatted pile of text that is very difficult to make any sense of. I can only imagine that this was dictated over the phone to the advertising editor at the BARC Gazette and just transcribed and keylined in. It looks almost like a telegram of the ad’s copy.

Let’s just concentrate on those lovely lines of the Elite’s bodywork instead. There, that’s better.

DC in Clark’s Lotus 25

David Coulthard really seems to be enjoying his post-racing career. Lovely production on this clip. I love the intercuts between historic footage of Jim Clark in the car (and the period race commentary) and Coulthard in the car today.

Truthfully though, the interviews with Clark’s mechanics and team members are just as enjoyable as watching this magnificent machine in motion.

5th Gear Takes the Mk. 1 Lotus Cortina for a Spin

Chapman Talks Lotus. 1968.

I could watch this for the opening title cards alone. The cold open on the first lap of a GP panning to Chapman with the word “millionaire” reversed out without explanation. The production quality is almost kitschy and the commentator and interviewer seem much more in the financial outcomes than the successes on track. Despite a bit of cheese, it’s a marvelous artifact of one of the high points of team Lotus and a rare opportunity to see extensive interviews with Chapman and Graham Hill in one of the most intense and exciting eras in the team’s history. It’s also a great to see Chapman trackside diagnosing a mechanical failure in Jackie Oliver’s car. It’s a great insight into the inner workings of the legendary engineer’s mind.

I particularly enjoy seeing a bit of the Lotus offices. It could have been a prototype of Stirling-Cooper’s offices, but with a Lotus formula car plunked in the middle of the typing pool.


Jim Clark Hard at Work.

I have this image in my head of Jim Clark easily and effortlessly winning race after race. Nearly every photo I’ve seen of the man after a race is of his smiling face as he celebrates with his crew or the other drivers—not of him slumped and tired and broken down after the strain of a race.

The look of concentration in his face in this photo confirms that it wasn’t just a leisurely drive the led to his victories. It reminds me that just because someone is good at something, it doesn’t mean it’s easy for them.

As an aside: While we can all agree that full-face helmets are safer, what a shame that we’ll never see a photo like this of Vettel or Alonso or Hamilton. Not visibly seeing their struggle just plays into this fantasy of the robotic, efficient driving machine that never breaks a sweat. That’s just Räikkönen.

Photo by Patrick Lichfield. Prints of this shot are available at Chris Beetle’s Fine Photographs. Found via Le Container.

Relieving any Maidenly Tensions

The Elite Is Not Delivered Race-Ready

Contrary to some delightfully flattering folk tales, the Elite is not delivered race-ready. This myth arises, no doubt, from the factory practice of road driving each new car. By the same token, these factory jaunts do have virtues and one should not be deceived by the fresh, virginal appearance of a new Elite.

Colin Chapman’s crews have a bit of a go with each new one. It’s rather an old world tradition. nothing beats an English country road for relieving any maidenly tensions that might inhibit a new machine, and wilful tendencies can be discovered and corrected before they become evil habits.

The Chapman suspension has been thoroughly scrunched and wiggled till it carries through fast corners on all fours with the tenacious grace one expects from a Lotus. The overhead cam Coventry Climax gets a thorough-going physical on the test bench even before it goes into the car, and on the road the Girling discs get a brisk exercising along with the clutch gearbox combo to assure a proper assortment of changes.

In short, a new Elite has had at least a taste of the fast heel and toe work that lies ahead in high speed touring or prize competition. To the owner we leave the details of final break-in and the selection of various racing accessories, plus painting on the number. A dandy job for a decorative crew member. And if you do come off a winner, there is a comfortable inside passenger seat to carry off your trophy.

$4,780 in 1958 is about $36,660 today. Damnit.