The Ex – Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Bruce Halford 1958 Lotus 16

The Ex – Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Bruce Halford 1958 Lotus 16

Having built up a reputation as a manufacturer for lightweight sports cars through the mid 1950s, Colin Chapman’s Lotus set foot in the single seater market with the Lotus 12 in 1957. Chapman took the experience gained in his work with Vanwall in 1956, and realised that his design for the Lotus 12 should be competitive in the fields of formula racing.

Initially starting as a Formula 2 car, the Lotus 12 featured a space frame chassis and had the Coventry Climax FPF engine mounted at an angle to allow the prop-shaft to pass to the side of the driver. This meant that the seating position of the driver could be lower, keeping the centre of gravity down and permitting a smaller frontal area. Transmitting the FPF’s power to the wheels was handled by the five speed sequential transaxle, designed for Lotus and nicknamed the ‘Queerbox’.

Suspension was by a lower wishbone, top link with anti-roll bar and coil-over damper at the front, initially with a De Dion rear end. Soon, Chapman replaced the De Dion with what would go on to be named the Chapman strut. This layout used a MacPherson strut forming to the top link and a fixed length driveshaft as the bottom arm, braced by a forward stay mounting on to the hub housing. Another Chapman innovation were the cast magnesium “wobbly-web” wheels. Using a wavy disc style centre, the design allowed high strength with minimal material thickness. Despite the engineering advances it featured, the Lotus 12 never actually won a race in F1 or F2.

Having continued to learn lessons with the Lotus 12, Chapman’s next single seater design was the Lotus 16 which debuted in 1958. Using details carried over from the Lotus 12, the Lotus 16 was constructed with thinner gauge tubing within the space frame. Again the Coventry Climax FPF engine was mounted at an angle for an offset prop-shaft and laid down low. By now the Queerbox had been improved with the addition of gearbox engineer Keith Duckworth to the team. Suspension was largely as on the Lotus 12, yet with the Chapman strut system in place from the beginning. Bodywork design was handled by aerodynamic pioneer Frank Costin, who had also penned the Vanwall F1 cars and the similarities are clear to see. The finished Lotus 16 was svelte, compact and extremely low, with the bonnet line under the top of the magnesium wobbly-web wheels.

After the Lotus 12’s Grand Prix debut for Lotus at the 1958 Monaco GP, the Lotus 16 first broke cover in a GP at the 1958 French GP in July, with Lotus employee Graham Hill at the wheel. The first 16 produced was chassis 362, and production ran to a total of 8 cars by the end of 1959, with the ’59 variant having a design revision thanks to the involvement of Len Terry.

Chassis 362-2, the car we are delighted to present today, was originally numbered 364. However, with 362 being heavily damaged by Cliff Allison at Oporto in ’58 and put into storage at Lotus, the number 362-2 was used. Built by Chapman with the FPF engine angled at 17 degrees to the left, 362-2 was an interim design before the ’59 perforated dashboard bulkhead cars with Terry’s input. The greater angling of the engine meant an angled bulkhead was used, parallel with the back of the engine, and using the master cylinder arrangement seen in the later cars.

362-2 was shown by Lotus at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show (as seen on left), presented as the 1959 model. Alongside an Elite on the Lotus stand, the Lotus 16 was the only single seater racing car present and was inspected by “almost all of the leading British drivers at the show”. Interested parties who were deemed eligible to purchase the £2600 car were allowed to sit in it and try it for size. Apparently, two Americans even enquired about the possibility of fitting the Lotus 16 with equipment for road use!

On the second day of the motor show, 362-2 was bought from the stand by John Fisher for Bruce Halford to race in the upcoming ’59 season. There had also been a test at Brands Hatch where prospective buyers could sample a Lotus 16, with 362-2 used. Amongst the testers was Jim Clark, who famously tried the car before his first single seater race, which turned out to be in a Gemini.

Another prospective buyer was Count Stephen Ouvaroff, who remembered his outing in 362-2 for it’s dubious brakes, although he admitted that may have been down to his large feet. The day was also remembered by many for the rear wheel detaching itself at Paddock Hill bend while Graham Hill was completing demonstration laps. This left the Scots unimpressed, and Fisher remained the only customer to purchase a new Lotus 16.

Graham Hill to raced 362-2 in the Silver City Trophy for racing & sports cars exceeding 1200cc at the 1958 Boxing day Brands Hatch meeting before it was delivered to Fisher. Hill took pole, sharing the front row with two Coopers and Bruce Halford in one of Fisher’s Lotus 12s. The race was started by new World Champion Mike Hawthorn, and after a close race with George Wicken, Hill won, setting fastest lap in the process. This was the first single seater victory for both Lotus and Hill.

Halford’s debut in 362-2 came in the   Lavant Cup at the Easter Monday Goodwood meeting, where he took 9th place. At the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park (seen above and to the right), Halford retired with gearbox issues, setting the tone for the rest of his F2 season. Having raced his own Maserati 250F previously, where he kept the revs well below what the works cars would use, Halford had hoped that he’d be able to extract the maximum from a car which was being financed for him. It didn’t turn out that way. From Oulton, they went to the Aintree 200 which resulted in another retirement. Then it was to Syracuse,  where an oil union failed on the third lap, ending play.

Next was Monaco. For this race, Formula 2 cars were allowed to qualify on equal terms with the Formula 1 entries. With 16 cars able to take the start, Halford and Fisher were delighted to make the grid, albeit in 16th. Of the nine Formula 2 cars entered, only two others made it onto the grid. Those were the Ferrari Dino of Cliff Allison and the Porsche of Wolfgang von Trips, who both lined up next to Halford. Team Lotus had been delayed on the way down with transporter woes, so Graham Hill was only on the row in front of the F2 trio with his 2.5-litre Lotus 16.

Having been concerned about the confines of the tight street circuit for the race, Halford asked Fisher’s wife to telephone Fisher and request that they insure 362-2 for the race. As it turned out, that was a prudent move. On the second lap, von Trips spun at St. Devote, leaving Halford and Allison nowhere to go. The three F2 cars crashed together, an event which was recorded in this photograph, in front of the Les Princes Hotel. 362-2 suffered front end damage, and on the return to base, mechanics Wally Varley and Denis Tobin stripped the car down. The chassis was taken back to Progress, who Lotus outsourced chassis production to, for repair.

Halford had to temporarily make do with one of the Lotus 12s while 362-2 was being repaired, and was reunited with the Lotus16 at Reims for the Coupe International de Vitesse in July. Another retirement was suffered, followed by another at Rouen the week later. Later in July at Clermont Ferrand for the Coupe d’Auvergne, Halford suffered a puncture which caused another crash in 362-2. He ended up in hospital along with Ivor Bueb who had also crashed in a separate incident. Halford was flown back to England to recover, and it was there that he heard the news that Bueb had passed away. Despite being entered in the John Davy F2 race at Brands Hatch in August, Halford and 362-2 did not arrive, apparently not yet repaired and drawing Halford’s ’59 season to a close.

362-2 was then sold to Tony Kotze in early 1960, a South African racer who had desired a Cooper, but with modest funds had to settle for a Lotus 16. Kotze repainted 362-2 in red and raced the Lotus 16 through ’60 to midway through ’61. Amongst the many races he campaigned 362-2 in were two South African GPs. Kotze suffered similar reliability issues to Halford, with gearbox issues, engine problems, shock absorber failure and chassis breakages. Kotze even fitted 362-2 with an Alfa Romeo engine on occasion, before selling the Lotus 16 on to Cecil Hooper and setting about building his own Assegai 1.5-litre car.

Hooper (pictured below), entered 362-2 under the Ecurie Aquila banner, a team which was apparently as much a social club as a racing team. Amongst it’s later members were future Brabham and McLaren designer Gordon Murray, who raced his IGM-Ford, a Lotus 7 lookalike. Hooper modified the nose of 362-2, in a fashion used by many over the years at Monaco to allow better cooling. Ecurie Aquila mechanic Martin Pomeroy recalled the car with its twin choke SU carburettors and that testing was carried out on public roads at midnight, before the Lotus 16 was locked away when police became aware.

During his time with 362-2, Hooper had more problems with the Climax engine. When he sold 362-2, it was without an engine. Hooper dumped the engine parts on his smallholding near Johannesburg and asked the gardener to bury them. 362-2 was sold again, still less engine, and it is recorded as being brought back to England, complete less engine, by Jackie Epstein in 1968, although not recalled by him. Epstein thinks it may have been Paul Hawkins instead. When back in England, 362-2 became part of the Nigel Moores Collection. The photos below show 362-2 when it returned to the UK.

After Nigel was tragically killed in a road accident in France, 362-2 passed through John Harper in 1977 to the ownership of Hugh Edgley a well known Lotus collector. The car was kept in a lock-up garage near Heathrow, which fell into disrepair and 362-2 disappeared.

362-2 then surfaced again at a birthday party. Historic racer Robin Lodge was collecting his daughter from the party, and was shown a racing car under a tarpaulin. Lodge then purchased 362-2 as a new addition to his collection, and set about restoring it. The car was sent to Bruce Halford, who was racing another Lotus 16 in historics at the time, for attention. Halford was assisted by Ken Nicholls who was often involved in repairing his 16 after the odd mishap, on the chassis work.

Lodge, Halford and Nicholls expressed a keen interest in keeping 362-2 as original as possible, shown by original correspondence which still accompanies 362-2 today. Denis Jenkinson came to inspect 362-2 at Robin Lodge’s, with Halford in attendance. Jenks’ notes how original the car is still, with the repaired front end and about the unquestionable history. At about this point it became clear that 362-2 had in effect previously been stolen, and the restoration was halted.

After investigation, the fact it had previously been stolen was rectified, and 362-2 was sold for Lodge by John Harper in 2014 where it was bought by the current owner. Having owned and raced another Lotus 16, chassis 368, for 25 years, he set about restoring 362-2 to it’s former glory. Lodge had left the dismantled car in the condition that it was in during 1988. 362-2 retained its original chassis, bodywork, Queerbox transaxle, fuel tank, oil tank, seat, steering wheel, instrument panel, wheels and tyres, along with some other smaller parts.

The chassis was sent to Lotus expert Peter Denty to restore wherever necessary. Denty noted the junction between the original ’58 round cornered Reynolds tubing and the more usual square cornered type used in the ’59 repair, as mentioned by Jenks in ’88. With 362-2 intended to be a racing car capable of winning races, he has spared no expense in restoring the 362-2 or cut corners to make it a quick job; evident by the 4 years of work.

A new Coventry Climax FPF engine was commissioned with Chris Gilbert of Init Racing, using the best parts available. It was decided that the original Queerbox should be put to one side for preservation’s sake, and a new Queerbox was constructed. With the experience gained from racing a Lotus 16 for 25 years, the owner and his mechanic have managed to make what was in period, an unreliable troublesome gearbox, regularly reliable. Such a good a job they have done of this, they are also rebuilding these gearboxes for other Lotus 16 owners. A new oil tank has been made as a copy of the original, and the rear mounted fuel tank now has a fuel cell fitted inside in the interest of safety. An aluminium copy of the original radiator has been made for optimal cooling and light-weight.

The original bodywork has also been put to one side, and would be best placed hung on the wall behind 362-2 in the new custodian’s garage. A new body was made with keen attention to detail, and has been fitted to the car. Several original details have been retained however. For example, the dashboard panel, steering wheel, seat and headrest are all the original Lotus items, wonderfully aged over the last 60 years. Other details remain too, like the master cylinder arrangement and engine bay cross brace, both original items. It was decided to paint 362-2 in John Fisher’s livery from 1959, with the green paint found under the headrest used for a colour sample and the BP yellow on the nose. Particular attention has been paid in getting the small details correct, whether it be the positioning of the number roundels or sourcing the correct Castrol bottle lids which Chapman used on the wheel centres to cover the bearings.

With 362-2 now completed, an entry has been made for the 2018 edition of the Monaco Grand Prix Historique, which would be the first return to the principality for the car since 1959. The current owner, would be delighted to attend a test day along with mechanics, to complete a handover to the new custodian. 362-2 benefits from 2017 FIA HTPs and in date safety equipment. It is of course accompanied by all of the original parts which were not used during the restoration, along with the history file containing correspondence, photographs, and registrar’s report.

As such, 362-2 is a stunning, highly eligible car with complete provenance which has been expertly restored, ready to return to the best circuits throughout Europe, whether at the Monaco Grand Prix Historique, the Goodwood Revival, or with the HGPCA championship. As the first Lotus driven by Jim Clark, the car with which the first single seater victory for both Lotus and Graham Hill was claimed, 362-2 is an opportunity not to be missed.