Great racing cars: Lotus 19



A series taken from the 164-page Motor Sport special Great Racing Carswhich is available to buy here

To buy the lead image click here.

From the editor Damien Smith

How would you define a ‘great’ racing car? Race wins and championship titles are an obvious place to start – and admittedly, when we began the process of rounding up the ‘voices’ to fill this special magazine, published by the team behind Motor Sport, we had in mind the likes of the Lotus 72, Ferrari F2004, Porsche 917, Audi R10 and so on.

But as the interviews of familiar racing figures began, we realised greatness is often a very personal thing. Naturally, most – but not all – would pick cars they had experienced first-hand, as a driver, designer, engineer or team boss. And on occasion the cars that stood out in their minds as ‘great’ weren’t necessarily so in the grand scheme of history. That’s why you’ll find a Minardi here among Formula 1 cars from Lotus, Williams and McLaren.

Unexpected? Certainly. Wrong? Not to the man who chose it.

As the interviews accumulated, our magazine took on a life of its own, full of personal anecdotes about the myriad cars that made careers. Some of those we spoke to, such as Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney, couldn’t be tied to a single choice from multi-faceted lives at the wheel. Such heroes have earned the right to choose an F1, sports and Indycar, so we allowed them more than one bite.

Others refused to be confined by category. Hence the short ‘Odd ’n Sods’ chapter on cars that, by and large, are mere footnotes in lower divisions of racing lore.

Thus there is nothing definitive about the selection listed herein. Then again, there’s no claim that this compilation offers the ‘Greatest Racing Cars’ of history. It’s much more personal than that, much more quirky – and all the better for it.

1960-62 Lotus 19

Dan Gurney
All-American hero in F1, Indycars, sports cars… anything and everything!

If you ask me to choose my favourite of all the cars I raced, I have to pick Frank Arciero’s Lotus 19. The Lotus 19 represented a great leap forward. It was not a good car from the reliability standpoint, but we drove it on tracks like Daytona, which imposed a lot of extra stress, and it never failed us.

The Lotus 19 was the proverbial giant-killer. With a little 2.5-litre Coventry-Climax four-cylinder engine with big Weber carburettors, it could take on the V8 Chevys and Buicks that were being raced at the time – and any of the more fancied Jaguars and Ferraris. It was just plain easier to drive and faster.

It was a truly remarkable car that emanated from Colin Chapman’s mind. When I first saw it, I was shaken by how beautiful it looked. When I drove it not long after that, it was beautiful in that regard also. You’re talking about a moment in time where something like that could occur and it did. I’ve driven other Lotuses and quite a few different cars, but the Lotus 19 lived up to its billing.

Based on my own ability to predict what Chapman was going to produce, I talked Frank Arciero into buying that car before ever seeing it. The Lotus 18 Formula 1 car was Chapman’s first rear-engined F1 chassis. It was a fast car and, from what Chapman told me, the Lotus 19 was going to be even better.

So my faith in Chapman’s creative abilities enabled me to sell Frank on buying this new rear-engined sports-racer. Being Italian and a fan of Ferraris and Maseratis, Frank was sceptical about buying a rear-engined English car, but I was able to convince him.

In my first race with Frank’s Lotus 19 at Riverside in October, 1960, I qualified on pole and drove it in a dozen races over the next two years. I won at Nassau in 1960 and ’61 and at Daytona, Mosport and Laguna Seca in ’62.

It was a great car.

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