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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1964
Numbers built:23 (S1)
Successor:Lotus 30 S2 Ford
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:February 15, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn the early 1960s combining a British chassis with an American V8 proved to be a very successful method of reaching success. It all begun a few years earlier with the Chevrolet engined Listers and the likes of Cooper and Lola quickly followed suit. The best known example in this genre is the AC/Shelby Cobra, although international (Group 7) sports car racing would be dominated by far more advanced and powerful British/American hybrids. Ford also recognised this to be the way to achieve sports car racing success and in their quest to win at Le Mans looked to team up with a British manufacturer. Eventually Lola was chosen, which left Lotus' Colin Chapman bitterly disappointed and determined to prove the boys from Detroit wrong.

While Lotus had limited experience with very powerful engines, there had been notable success with a V8 engined Lotus 19 in 1962 and 1963. This two-seater racer used a traditional and very effective tubular spaceframe chassis, but for his new Group 7 car Colin Chapman decided to use a backbone chassis similar to the newly launched Elan. It consisted of a central box type construction, which sprouted in two narrower sections on each end to support the suspension, engine and gearbox. In the four-cylinder engined Elan, the novel idea worked very well, but several key people within Lotus were worried it would not be up to the task for the proposed sports car. Chapman pressed on and at the 1964 London Racing Car Show, he unveiled the Lotus 30.

Like all the Lotus racing cars that came before it, the 30 looked like a very effective machine ready to cheat the wind. Under the very low body, all the mechanicals were fitted to the backbone chassis that was prominently visible in the cockpit. It was suspended all-round by double wishbones with the lower wishbone reversed at the rear. Right behind the driver, the chassis separated in two sections like a tuning fork to house the engine. The powerplant of choice was Ford's 289 that was delivered to Lotus developing around 270 bhp. With some fine tuning and adding four Webers, Lotus' engineers found another 80 bhp. All this power was transferred to the wheels through a sturdy ZF five speed gearbox.

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  Article Image gallery (95) Chassis (4) Specifications