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  Lotus 9 Le Mans Climax

  Article Image gallery (17) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1955
Numbers built:24
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
Download: All images
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Click here to download printer friendly versionLotus' first fully streamlined sportscar, the Lotus 8, had scored numerous successes in 1954. It was let down however by the poor accessibility of the engine which made on-track repairs nearly impossible. By 1955 Colin Chapman and aerodynamics expert Mike Costin both left their job to fully focus on Lotus. The first task at hand was to design a revised 8 around a smaller engine. Engines used were a bored MG engine and the free revving firepump derived Coventry Climax FWA engine.

The result of this work was the Lotus 9, which used the same wheelbase as the 8 but was smaller in every other dimension. The engine bay was also easier to access.

Automobile Club de l'Ouest accepted the 9 to run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. For night-time driving lights were need but Costin didn't want to compromise the aerodynamics. He fitted the 9 with popup lights which were stored under the bonnet when not needed (clearly visible in the second picture). Chapman drove the Coventry Climax engined 9 at a competitive speed but he was black flagged for reversing on the track. His 97 mph fastest lap was the fastest lap in relation to the power available.

To commemorate the Le Mans outing, all FWA engined 9s were dubbed Le Mans. A cheaper version with a Ford engine was also available.

The 9s featured are seen here competing in the 2002 Le Mans Classic.

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  Article Image gallery (17) Specifications