The Ex – Andy Wolfe/Rob Hall 1965 Lotus Cortina FIA

The Ex – Andy Wolfe / Rob Hall 1965 Lotus Cortina Mk1 to FIA Specification

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-frame 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.

This Lotus Cortina, chassis number BA74EP59133, was produced by Ford England at their Dagenham plant in April 1965. As one of the first aeroflow cars, 59133 was built in a cross-over period with the a-frame rear suspension layout as a Lotus Cortina Mk1.

In around 1971, 59133 had been taken to a garage in Newmarket for some service work. On completion of the work, the car was not collected for an unknown reason, and remained at the back of the workshop. When the garage was sold the Lotus Cortina was inherited by the new owner in the 1990s. The Cortina then moved to the new owner’s house and was bought by Andy Wolfe.

Described as being in a complete but derelict state, Andy restored the Lotus Cortina to FIA specification to race it in the very competitive Under Two Litre Touring Car (U2TC) series. The original shell was restored rather than replaced, and built to be at the sharp end of competition. A full roll cage was installed and panel work attended to where necessary. Amongst the details were a stainless steel exhaust system and flush fit fuel tank, to position the weight as low as possible in the car.

At the time, the similar Lotus Cortina of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield was the mark to compare against, and Andy set the objective to beat them. Sharing with Rob Hall, Andy fought hard against the Vozayides/Hadfield car, as anyone who was around at the time will remember. The pairing claimed several wins with 59133 before it was sold to the current owners in 2011.

Whilst in the current ownership, 59133 has been raced regularly in U2TC with many podiums and a pole position. 59133 has been maintained by Brands Hatch Morgans with engine work undertaken by Ian Claridge of Anglian Racing Engines. Most recently 59133 was raced by our own Ben Mitchell at the 76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting. After challenging for pole position in qualifying, sitting in 2nd position for part of the session, 59133 went on to finish in 7th place after losing ground at the beginning of the race, lapping in the 1 minute 32s.

As it sits today, 59133 is presented with just Goodwood on the Lotus Twin-cam engine, accompanied by 2015 FIA HTPs and spares package. Safety equipment is valid, with seatbelts expiring in 2020, seat valid until 2022 and fire extinguisher valid until 2020.

As a genuine Lotus Cortina Mk1 restored to FIA specification, 59133 is a fantastic route into historic touring car racing. Whether it be U2TC, Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars, HSCC Touring Cars or one of the other many series in which it can be raced, 59133 is a hugely enjoyable, confidence inspiring Lotus Cortina which has shown to be a race winning car with Andy Wolfe and Rob Hall.