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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1962
Numbers built:5 + 3
Internal name:Type 24
Designed by:Colin Chapman
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:April 10, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionMany of the British Formula 1 teams and engine manufacturers expected that the sport's governing body would not press on with the drastic new regulations proposed for 1961. Much to their surprise and discontent, the '1.5 litre' rules did really kick in. This virtually handed the title to Ferrari, who had a suitable engine ready well ahead of time. Teams like Lotus, Cooper and BRM could bring little else to the table than the familiar four cylinder Climax FPF Formula 2 engine. Instead of developing a brand new car, Lotus fielded the 21; an evolution of the successful 18/20 Formula Junior cars, but with a sturdier gearbox and suspension. Although usually no match for the much more powerful Ferraris, Innes Ireland did score one Grand Prix win at Watkins Glen.

In the 'lost' year both BRM and Coventry Climax developed similar V8 engines. The new British eight cylinders featured dual overhead cams and were designed to take Lucas' Fuel Injection, although at times Weber Carburetors were still used. The high revving engines produced around 180 bhp at their launch and by the end of the 1.5 litre regulations many evolutions saw power rise to 220 bhp at well over 11000 rpm for the four valve version of the Coventry Climax engine. During the 1961 season Lotus supremo Colin Chapman announced its intention to build a brand new car for the following season, which would be able to take both V8s. He also announced that the car, unlike the Lotus 21 of 1961 would become available for privateers.

Dubbed the Lotus 24, the new Formula 1 racer was built around the familiar spaceframe chassis, which still had its roots in the company's first mid-engined single seaters. Compared to the 21 used in the previous season, the 24 had a slightly longer wheelbase and considerably larger fuel tanks to match the extra consumption of the thirsty V8 engine. The ZF gearbox that had been first used on the 21 was carried over as it proved much more reliable than the Lotus designed 'queerbox'. The independent suspension followed a conventional pattern and disc brakes were fitted front and rear. The fiberglass body followed the Lotus 21 pattern, although a hump on the rear deck to clear the engine's intakes made the Lotus 24 easily identifiable.

In five of the pre-season, non championship races Jim Clark ran a Climax engined Lotus 24 and scored three pole positions and two wins. For a moment the Lotus customers believed that they could compete with Team Lotus on equal terms, but that illusion was shattered when the revolutionary Lotus 25 was rolled out of the garage at the first Grand Prix of the season. Instead of a spaceframe, the new Works Lotus used an aluminium monocoque, which was both lighter and more rigid than the conventional spaceframe. Nevertheless, Lotus found enough customers for twelve chassis to be produced, seven of which were equipped with the Coventry Climax V8 and five with the BRM. Reg Parnell later assembled another three cars from parts supplied by the factory.

Despite having to take on the superior Lotus 25 and the newly developed BRM P57, the Lotus 24 performed commendably for two seasons. It started off very good when Works driver Trevor Taylor placed a Coventry Climax engined example second at the 1962 season opener at Zandvoort. In the remainder of that season the likes of Innes Ireland and Jack Brabham managed to secure several top six positions. By 1963, the Lotus 24 had lost its edge with a fifth and a sixth by Jim Hall in the BRM engined example of BRP as the best results. Some entrants continued to race the Lotus 24 in the 1964 season and one even made an appearance in 1965, but with no notable results. The 24 was the last customer Lotus Formula 1 car.

Featured are four of the BRM engined Lotus 24s, including the three examples constructed by Reg Parnell. They are pictured above at various historic races around Europe in recent years.

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  Article Image gallery (47) Specifications