One size tends not to fit all
All great racers demand the best. Compromise isn’t within their dictionary. Graham Hill was one of the most pernickety and demanding drivers any team could run. Mechanics and engineers alike brim with stories of his relentless job lists. When he joined Team Lotus in 1967 he must have been extraordinarily confident that the forthcoming Lotus 49, with its brand-new Cosworth DFV engine, was going to do the job, because he accepted quite a lash-up for his early outings that year.
The record book will tell you that until the 49s emerged at the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix, he drove a two-year-old Lotus 33 ‘R11 fiffed with a nominally 2-litre Tasman BRM V8 engine and gearbox. That’s perfectly true. He did. But what the record book doesn’t explain is that he didn’t fit the car, which had to be hacked about until he did. Tailored around jockey-sized Jim Clark or slim-line Pete Arundell, ‘Rll’s inner cockpit skins had to be cut and scalloped out to accommodate Graham’s broader shoulders and biceps.
His long legs posed the next problem, because the steering wheel became trapped against his legs. Lotus’s long-suffering mechanics had to alter the rake of the steering column, liffing it within the car so the steering wheel rim would clear Graham’s thighs. But how could they get it through the dash panel? In lieu of any alternative, they removed the rev counter from its standard dash panel orifice and ran the steering column through that hole instead, remounting the tacho high on top. I’d always wondered why Graham looked so, well odd within that car. And now we know.