The Leo Voyazides / Simon Hadfield Lotus Cortina Mk1
The unmistakable lines of the Lotus Cortina, mid corner, hard on the the throttle, the front inside wheel raised in the air and Jim Clark behind the wheel still has to be one of the most evocative images of any motorsport to this day. Immensely successful on both sides of the Atlantic, the Lotus Cortina is credit to and yet another fine example of Colin Chapman’s legendary ingenuity, flare and ability to stay one step ahead of the game.
The history of the Lotus Cortina began in 1961. Colin Chapman had been wishing to build his own engines for Lotus, mainly because the Coventry Climax unit was so expensive. Colin Chapman’s chance came when he commissioned close friend and former BRM and Coventry Climax designer Harry Mundy to design a twin-cam version of the Ford Kent engine.
Most of the development of the engine was done on the 997cc and 1,340cc bottom end, but in 1962 Ford released the 116E five bearing 1,499 cc engine and work centred on this. Keith Duckworth from Cosworth played an important part in tuning of the engine. The engine’s first appearance was in 1962 at the Nurburgring in a Lotus 23 driven by Jim Clark. It was not long before the engine now enlarged to 1,558cc (in order to get closer to the 1.6 litre maximum class capacity), was fitted to the production Lotus Elan.
Whilst the engine was being developed, Walter Hayes of the Ford Motor Company, keen to produce a sports/racing version of their standard saloons, asked Colin Chapman if he would fit the engine to 1,000 Ford saloons for Group 2 homologation. Chapman quickly accepted, and the Type 28 or Lotus Cortina was launched.
The new concept car was to be assembled by Lotus and launched to the public in the early 1962. Ford supplied the 2-door Cortina body shells and took care of all the marketing and selling of the cars, whilst Lotus did all the mechanical and cosmetic changes. The major changes involved installing the 1,558 cc engine, together with the same close-ratio gearbox as the Elan. Other special features departing from standard were aluminium panels for bonnet, boot lid and doors, alloy castings for the bell-housing, diff-casing and gearbox tail-shaft housing.
The suspension, especially to the rear, was quite radically altered, replacing the semi-elliptic leaf springs with a special A-bracket supporting coil springs located by trading arms and server assisting disc brakes fitted to the front with wide rim steal wheels.
To homologate the car for Group 2, 1000 were required to be built in 1963 and the car was duly homologated in September 1963. In the same month as the car’s first outing at the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting, they finishing 3rd and 4th behind two Ford Galaxies and beat the 3.8 litre Jaguars which had been dominant in saloon car racing for so long.
In 1964, a Lotus-Cortina leading around a bend with its inside front wheel in fresh air became a familiar sight. Jim Clark won the British Touring Car Championship with ease, and in the USA, Jackie Stewart and Mike Beckwith won the Marlboro 12-hour. Alan Mann Racing with their distinctive red and gold livery also performed well in the European Touring Car Championship, including a 1-2 victory in the ‘Motor’ Six Hour International Touring Car Race at Brands Hatch. Other Lotus-Cortina achievements included a 4th outright in the Tour de France, the Austrian Saloon Car Championship, the South African National Saloon Championship, the Swedish Ice Championship, and the Wills Six-Hour in New Zealand.
The pairing of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield have long been the benchmark in U2TC, being the car to beat with the Lotus Cortina offered here. Probably the most successful Lotus Cortina in historic racing, it was restored to FIA racing specification from a Pre-Airflow Lotus Cortina Mk1 car in 2007 by Bruce Stevens of Plan B Motorsport using all of Bruce’s knowledge of Cortinas, having long raced them himself. It began its racing career with Leo Voyazides in October 2008 at Paul Ricard in France, the start of a hugely successful run. At the time of the restoration in 2007, Bruce also prepared another Pre-airflow Lotus Cortina shell to the same level in case anything were to happen to the car during the years of racing which lay ahead.
Racing with Simon Hadfield as his co-driver, Leo and Plan B achieved great success with the Cortina over the years. Three times the winner of the U2TC Four Hour Challenge through 2010, 2011, and 2012, the car has racked up countless pole positions, victories and fastest laps throughout Europe. At the Silverstone Classic in 2012 after a drive through penalty, the victory was only missed by 1.4 seconds with the fastest lap time nearly 2 seconds quicker than any other car in the race. With it’s trademark screaming exhaust note like no other and blue windscreen sun strip, this Cortina is the car which is held as the one to beat, the car which each other entrant has to try to keep up with.
During a race at the Spa 6 Hours meeting in 2013, Leo hit oil with the Cortina and was involved in an accident which led to damage on the car. After Spa, the damage was assessed and the Cortina, along with the spare shell, went to Andy Wolfe of Wolfe Manufacturing who has built and raced many Cortinas himself. Andy set about the process of rebuilding the Cortina using the shell which had been prepared by Bruce, and it was completed during 2014. Most recently the Lotus Cortina finished 2nd at the 2016 Brands Hatch HSCC Historic Superprix in the Historic Touring Cars with Simon Hadfield driving, beaten only by Leo in his Ford Falcon.
The Lotus Twin Cam engine has been built by Ian Claridge of Anglian Engine Services, and father of James Claridge of Geoff Richardson Engineering, for a number of years giving the ultimate in FIA Twin Cam power. It was refreshed in March 2016 by Ian at a cost of £5,400. Once built and dyno’d by Ian, and after the engine is fitted into the Cortina, the car is taken to the rolling road ensuring that the fuelling and ignition set up is at it’s optimum each time, and good reliability has been a feature. The exhaust system is bespoke using Inconel, favoured for it’s light weight and low wall thickness, and is by Joe Ellis of BTB Exhaust. Currently the silencer is fitted, and a straight through pipe comes with the car.
Dampers are by Koni and serviced by SP Suspension, in a McPherson Strut layout with coil springs and anti roll bar on the front, and telescopic with the desirable radius arm and leaf spring rear suspension layout, an upgrade option added to the homologation document in 1965. The car carries the correct lightweight aluminium bonnet, doors and boot lid with Perspex windows. Featuring a 6 point welded in roll cage by Andy Robison Race Cars using 4130 Chrome Moly tubing rated at over double the ultimate tensile strength of the FIA minimum requirement, the Cortina has been built with top of the range and lightweight safety equipment.
The Recaro Pro Racer Spa XL Hans seat is Carbon Kevlar and weighs just 7kg and would come at a cost of over £2500. Lifeline’s lightweight Zero360 Electronic fire system is used and mounted low in the passenger foot well. In the boot, the fuel tank is foam filled and by Pro Alloy, mounted as low as possible to help with the Centre of Gravity. Battery isolation is taken care of by the Armtech system which is electrically operated with dashboard and exterior controls.
All of the care and experience that has gone into the build of this Cortina means that the car is actually under the minimum weight of 750kg, and requires ballasting to meet this rule. There are currently lead plates mounted on the passenger floor to get the total up to 750kg, while being as low as possible. Another feature which comes from the day in, day out experience held by those who have run this pace setting Cortina are the welded in jacking point on the sills. Anyone who has worked on these cars before will know that the safe placing of axle stands can be tricky at best with the shape of the floor pan, and the specific points give a safe, strong, positive location for them.
Accompanying the Cortina is another set of Minilite style aluminium wheels with Dunlop tyres, a spare gearbox, a spare differential, straight through exhaust pipe, and boxes of running spares containing various brake pads, shoes, electrical parts, bearings and other parts. Also included are the new FIA HTPs which were issued in July 2016, Andy Robinson Race Cars Roll Cage Certificate and V5.
Presented with limited mileage and only around 90 minutes on the mechanicals since the no expense spared rebuild by Wolfe Manufacturing with Plan B Motorsport, this is the long awaited opportunity to acquire the ultimate in U2TC cars, the Leo Voyazides / Simon Hadfield Lotus Cortina. With a variety of grids across Europe in which it can compete, including U2TC, Masters, HSCC and the Goodwood Revival, now is the time to get ready to attack in 2017, and why not do that with the best of the best.