Back in 1966 the British Saloon Car Championship allowed Group 5 cars to join the already colourful field of Group 1 and Group 2 cars. Group 5 allowed almost anything to be fitted to the cars and in 1967 Lotus introduced the Ford Cortina Lotus Mk2. An evolution of the already successful Ford Cortina Lotus Mk1 car but very different.
Built and prepared at Cheshunt by Lotus, 2 cars were assembled as “works”, one for Graham Hill and the other for Jacky Ickx. What was very different on the cars compared to the road going version was that the engine was replaced by the all new Cosworth FVA 1600cc 4-Valve engine originally designed and introduced in 1966 for Formula 2 which used the twin-cam engine block as seen in the road car.
The FVA engine featured 16 valves operated by twin overhead camshafts driven by a train of 9 gears. The metering unit for the Lucas mechanical fuel injection was rotated by gear and belt from the inlet cam, while the exhaust cam drove a dynamo on the rear of the head. The design was the first contracted between Ford and Cosworth and it evolved in the DFV engine design seen in Formula 1 in 1967.
Few details can be found on the two Lotus works car appart from the 1967 BSCC pictures of the period but a third car was built by Ford themselves at the Boreham facility. Looking at it, they don’t look very different but an article in Motor magazine from 1967 gives us some info on the car.
Fitted with the same engine as the works Lotus cars and bearing the same colors the car was fitted with the same parts basically but did differ. The transmission was the reinforced back-axle as seen on the Lotus car as well as the lotus close-ratios 4-speed Ford gearbox. Suspension side, it was all different, the mountings were completely changed all around the car. Front was stiffened and lowered by about 2 inches with original rubber mountings being replace by rose joints. The back end was certainly the most complicated and expensive change with a 4 link system and almost inboard coil spring and adjustable Armstrong dampers. While the front brakes featured standard discs and calipers, the back drum brakes were changed in favor of the Ford Zephyr discs and calipers and it did make a difference.
Roger Clarke demonstrated it when he lead the two works Lotus cars of Graham Hill and Jacky Ickx in his Team Surtees entered Cortina Mk2 before an half shaft brought the race to an end during the 1967 Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting. It is said that Colin Chapman was on his knees when he saw the cornering speed and handling of the Ford car. Somehow, it was the sole appearance of that special car and the project was canned later on it is said.
The two cars raced by Team Lotus during the 1967 season are still around with one of them being the Graham Hill car aka “CTC 14E” being in Switzerland and the other one, the Jacky Ickx/Paul Hawkins aka “CTC 24E” car having been sold by JD Classics in its Alan Mann livery recently. Yes, the car did contest some races in the 1968 ETCC and BSCC for Alan Mann Racing.
Back then, Ford had Lotus and Alan Mann Racing but while Lotus went on to concentrate on Formula One with the Lotus 49 and the FVA based Ford Cosworth DFV. Alan Mann continued the touring car duties for Ford and so did the “test bench” aka “UVX 565E” with Frank Gardner and Dick Attwood before being destroyed. Later in 1968 it was replaced by the newly introduced Ford Escort and another Group 5 was build with the same engine but that is another story…
Still this car is one of the prettiest touring car build and raced and yes it is a #Want. Would it have been a better car if properly developed ? We will never know but the Escort was on the production line and introduced in 1968 and remember that touring car racing was meant to be the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” formula back then !
A little extra below with some amateur footage of the 1967 Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting an BSCC race.
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