Clark’s classic Lotus Cortina


An iconic Lotus Cortina once raced by Jim Clark and other famous names from the 1960s is for sale

Jim Clark driving a Lotus-Cortina

Imagine holding a steering wheel once held by Jim Clark. What’s more, imagine doing it in one of the 1960s’ most stylish and iconic cars, on road and on track. You may not need to imagine much longer, as a Lotus-Cortina with these attributes is going under the hammer at Autosport International next month.

The Lotus Cortina needs little in the way of introduction of course. It can be thought of as the world’s first homologation special, and one of the most successful partnerships in British motoring with Lotus and Ford getting together to build a highly-developed version of Ford’s latest saloon. 

Lotus was keen to replace its Coventry-Climax engine with a new Kent-based unit; Ford was keen to liven up what was then its rather sedate image via motor sport, and homologation rules required 1000 Lotus-Cortinas to be produced. It became known for its wheel-cocking path to victory on track, and as a must-have road car.

This car for sale is exceptionally rare also. It is one of only three ‘Group 5’ works cars built by Lotus for the 1966 British Saloon Car Championship and is the very car raced by Clark as well as by Graham Hill, Peter Arundell, Jacky Ickx and Sir John Whitmore.

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The car was immediately assigned to 1964 saloon car champion Clark for an April ’66 Oulton Park meeting, though in poor weather he didn’t get much running. In the following weeks his fellow F1 driver Arundell had more success with it, as did Ickx.

Its engine was converted to fuel-injection by BRM in June; its first race in its new condition was the British Grand Prix support event at Brands Hatch and Sir John Whitmore took it to class victory and fourth-place overall.

Its last works race was early in 1967 at the Race of Champions again at Brands, and in Hill’s hands it signed off in style with a class win and overall second place, and the car had more action from mid-1967 with the AG Dean Racing Ltd team and Brian Robinson driving.

At the end of the 1968 season the car was sold to Peter Parnell and the car spent many years in Africa – and was raced regularly there too. After passing through other owners’ hands it was purchased in 1997 by Jim Clark’s race mechanic Cedric Selzer, and he brought it back to the UK to be sympathetically restored.

Its current owners purchased the car from Selzer in 2005, and it’s offered today in race ready condition. It also retains its original shell and all the period race suspension and engine modifications. In addition it comes with full details of its works competition history in 1966, ‘67 and ‘68, and a small number of spares. 

With its rarity, on-track successes, association with several towering driving names and in itself being one of the most significant road and racing saloons of the 1960s, it’s hard to ask for much more.

More: Lunch with… Team Lotus mechanics

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