My LOTUS Pages - History

    In 1961, being around 12 or 13 years old, a friend and I built a "soap box" cart which we repeatedly took to the top of the street and made mad rides down the hill, drifting it expertly around the corner at the bottom (hoping there were no cars coming).  It was painted Lotus green with a yellow stripe.

A Lotus Fan?
I wasn't always a Lotus fan.  For example, watching the Boxing Day Goodwood F1 race in 1959 I thought that the Lotus effort was a very poor imitation of the beloved Vanwall.  Of course, I was too uninformed then to know that the Vanwall was partly another product of Chapman and Costin.  The Elite was lovely, as was the Eleven, but in F1, for me, Cooper was the successor to Vanwall.  At least as long as it was Rob Walker's car with Stirling Moss driving and beating that odd ugly-shaped thing the Lotus 18.  In 1961, though, two or three things happened: Ferrari dominated and the only effective British response was from Lotus (later looking better with the 21).  Moss won two races and another Lotus driver became known - Jim Clark.  

1962 and, on TV, I saw Clark win a pre-season event at Aintree in the new Lotus 24 (plus, Moss had his final crash at Goodwood in the older BRP Lotus).  In May we went to Silverstone for the annual non-championship race there.  As usual there was a full schedule of support events - David Hobbs was there in an Elite featuring the Hobbs Mechamatic gearbox.  But it was the F1 race that changed me.  

Silverstone 1962
We were spectating about half-way round the track, about a mile from the start, at Club Corner.  You could hear the engines rev on the PA and they were off!   Now, from where we were, we could always see the cars in the distance as they went around Becketts corner (3/4 mile after the start); they would disappear on the drive down to Stowe before hurtling into view at our corner and vanishing again around Abbey.  So everyone was straining to see the pack, through the slight drizzle, towards Becketts.  A single car, leaving a trail of spray, swung through the bends and headed to Stowe.  The PA announcer wondered aloud "did everyone else crash?".  We looked to Stowe and Jimmy Clark in the green Lotus 24 was smoothly hurtling our way.  When, finally, the rest of the lot scrabbled around Becketts Clark was serenely on his way to Abbey.  For me, ever since, there is only one: Lotus.

That F1 car was followed by the Lotus 25 / 33 World Championship car.  The Indianapolis-winning 39.  The dominating Lotus 49 and 72 and then the incredible JPS Lotus 79.

Kit Car?
When we moved from England to the US in late '62 I lost a treasured item - a poster, which hung on my wall, that the Lotus works sent to me - of an assemble-it-yourself Elan kit.  That's how you could buy it in those days.  The poster featured a body, a chassis and a floor-full of parts.  I'm reminded of that now as the new bits are assembled for mine.  

At Watkins Glen, in the late '60s, I saw a Europa for the first time.  I was fascinated by both the looks of it - the body and its yellow-ness - and the exposed Lotus bits underneath.  I did get to drive a Players Gold Leaf Elan while on leave and that was another transformational experience.  My experience before then had been of Sprites, Triumphs and MGs but this was so different.  Soft, light, easy, and effortless fast cornering!  I thought I had mastered the rubber doughnut drivetrain until I tried to start uphill on gravel and stalled it repeatedly!    

In, I think, August 1967 Road & Track magazine featured the new Elan+2 on the cover.  Just lovely.

My Plus 2
We moved to Denver in 1973.  Driving to the office one day we passed an impressive new house.  And parked in the driveway - a lovely yellow Elan+2.  We both probably thought "one day I'll have one of those"; just I, though, was thinking of the car.  A few years passed.  As, sadly, did my old Triumph TR4A.  We now owned a Pinto wagon and a Monte Carlo.  One day I was coerced into driving around looking at new houses on a Sunday in 1978 when we turned a corner and in the driveway: a yellow Elan+2.  For Sale.  

We had great experiences with the car but one day in 1988, after trailing blue smoke for a long time, white smoke came out of the exhaust.  I turned it off and waited to make the repairs.  It's been almost twenty years.

We are making it new again!   We're building a "2007" 1969 Lotus Elan+2 Spyder Zetec Conversion.  Spyder is building a Stage 3 conversion - replica chassis / suspension, replacements for the old Ford / Rover / etc parts with new Ford parts and a Ford Zetec engine replacing the well-aged TwinCam.  That part's a bit sad, but really the old one needs more work  than I can give it ...  and a new, fuel injected, electronic ignition, +60hp engine is too compelling.  Oh - and a Ford 5-speed and LSD.
Lotus 18
The only Lotus 18 that I appreciated - Moss in Rob Walker's (wikipedia).

Lotus 24 with Yorkshireman Trevor Taylor; the overalls were a bit much.

 A '60s Elan and a white Elite (wikipedia).

From Trevor Sparrows excellent web site
Lotus Elan+2 (link to excellent Trevor Sparrow site)

Lotus Index Next: Before the Rebuild