Not all that long ago I recalled Jenks’ illegal 1957 Christmas Day drive on public roads in a Formula Two Lotus 12 in full racing trim, and how a phone call took me urgently from Christmas lunch with my wife and young daughters at the ‘pudding and crackers’ stage, to tow him back, with an Austin A105, after the noisy, very fast car had stopped, just as DSJ had done 120mph in fourth gear and was about to get into top.
Colin Chapman had brought the 1.5-litre Climax-engined Lotus down to Hampshire that morning on a trailer behind a Ford Consul saloon, but soon departed for his own Christmas festivities, leaving trade plates in the racer’s cockpit to provide at least an iota of legality. He had asked me to ring him when DSJ got back. I did this, saying that he had been stopped, not by the police but by a broken driveshaft.
I have recently received from Australia an intriguing letter from Mike Bennett telling me that this Lotus 12, No353, is now owned by him, identified by the trade-plate chit signed by Chapman before Jenks’ run and the No2 stamped on its original green body panels. It was sold in 1958 to John Fisher and then to Frank Gardner in ’59. He and Len Deaton toured the British circuits with it and Deaton’s Lotus 11, using the ex-Cliff Allison Team Lotus two-tier Bedford transporter. Both cars then went back to Australia, to be sold and used by a number of different drivers.
For 31 years, from 1967 to ’98, the Jenks Lotus was laid up, until Mike acquired it. This means that it is very original, with the correct chassis, body panels, gearbox, suspension parts and radiator.
Lotus 357, Allison’s car, which Mike tells me lay forlorn in a shed in Farnham, Surrey, for nearly 40 years, is now being restored in Towcester, and he is hoping that the two sister cars may one day get together again.