1964 Lotus-Ford Type 23 Sports-Racing Two-Seater
Chassis no. 23/5/111
Engine no. 13-650105
This very attractive Lotus 23 sports-racing classic is understood to have been acquired by the present vendor with a complete but damaged 1-litre BRM P80 4-cylinder racing engine. Only one such Lotus-BRM 23 using the power unit originally developed for Formula 2 single-seater racing in 1965-66 - is known to have been produced in period and that is the car then campaigned by aspiring young British driver Robin Widdows, winning the 1-litre class of the 1965 British national Autosport Championship. When acquired, the car was supplied with the necessary BRM P80 engine mounts, exhaust system, fuel injection ancillaries and gearbox mounting adaptor. Furthermore the rear cockpit bulkhead at the forward end of the engine bay had been extensively modified to provide clearance for the BRM accessories. In the view of the vendor this car could not have been prepared for any other engine.
Lotus 23/S/111 has been identified as having been that sold to the Hon. Edward Portman at the end of 1964 without engine or gearbox, and with the body colour described as French Blue. After Robin Widdows successful seasons racing with the car it was sold to Dickie Metcalfe who retained it during 1966-67. Fred Warnell of Warnell Motors, Chingford, subsequently ran the car, initially with the BRM engine and later with a 1300cc push-rod Triumph unit for the contemporary F100 sports-racing car series. The cars original long-range fuel and oil tanks were removed, and the front and rear body sections modified. The car changed hands again in 1971, and in 1975/76 it was restored to its original specification with a BRM P80 engine purchased from the factory at Bourne, Lincolnshire. The modified front and rear body sections were replaced by used original Type 23 panels acquired from D&A Shells of East London. By 1982 the BRM engine had been removed and replaced with a Cosworth Lotus-Ford Twin-Cam Mark 13 engine of 1600cc to compete in the HSCC Classic Sports Car Championship.
It was purchased by the present vendor in the summer of 2004 and was campaigned in club events for acclimatization. In July/August that year it was comprehensively rebuilt in preparation for the Spa 6-Hours. The engine was rebuilt by Racing Fabrications, the transmission by Tony Wilson and the driveline converted to Hardy-Spicer universal joints in place of the original rubber doughnuts. Suspension and steering gear were rebuilt with new uprights, springs, dampers and hubs. New wheels made to the original pattern were purchased, together with long-range fuel tanks. Total expenditure upon the car is said to be some £34,000.
At Spa this Lotus 23 qualified fifth with a time of 2 mins 56 secs on what was the drivers second lap only in a Lotus 23, providing some notion of the cars on-track potential. The car is offered here effectively ready to run, complete with comprehensive spares package and FIA Historic documentation.