The ex-Camoradi Team, Ian Burgess
1960-61 Lotus-Climax Type 18 Formula 1/Intercontinental Formula Racing Single-Seater
Chassis no. 908
In 1960 the American entrepreneur Lloyd P. 'Lucky' Casner's Camoradi racing team set the FIA Sports Car World Championship series alight with some stupendous performances by its Maserati Tipo 61 'Birdcage' cars, driven by Dan Gurney, Casner himself, Masten Gregory and none other than Stirling Moss. The acronym 'Camoradi' derived from 'Casner Motors Inc Racing Division' and the operation was originally heavily backed by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, which was seeking to establish a foothold in international road racing.
For the following year, 1961, team driver Masten Gregory persuaded the flamboyant 'Lucky' Casner that the team should also mount a serious assault upon Formula 1. To this end Camoradi International was formed with a base in Europe, and a new Cooper T53 'Lowline' car was acquired for Gregory.
However Ian Burgess, the team's newly-joined number two driver (who passed away only last month, on May 18) said he knew where he could acquire "a very cheap Lotus 18", and according to his testimony he had contested one or two Formula 2 races under the Scuderia Centro-Sud banner at the wheel of just such a 1½ -litre Maserati-powered car (chassis '902') in 1960.
That car was brought to England and Ian Burgess who always displayed an extrovertly entrepreneurial approach on his own account - reached an agreement with Colin Chapman of Lotus for the car to be taken to the Lotus factory at Cheshunt for refurbishment and to be put back to standard Coventry Climax-engined specification, Burgess purchasing a Climax FPF 4-cylinder to be installed in place of the discarded Italian unit.
However, recent research suggests that contrary to Mr Burgess's recollection, Lotus sold the 18-Maserati that he recalled to Italian amateur Prince Gaetano Starrabba, and the Climax-powered car that Burgess later acquired onCamoradi's behalf was in fact a brand new one (chassis serial '908' now offered here).
This car was race-prepared by Camoradi chief mechanic Bob Wallace later of Lamborghini development engineering fame - but there was so little time to get it to Pau for the first race of the 1961 season, that Wallace was still working on the new Type 18 in the back of the transporter as it trundled south through France. Needless to say, the hastily 'leaned-together' car didn't finish the race.
After this abortive Pau debut, Wallace returned to Modena to look after the team's sportscars and preparation of the Lotus 18 then devolved upon a "London-based Italian called Giovanni" and Irishman Aiden Jones, whom Camoradi manager Tony Mawe had recruited from Weir Lodge Garage in Chertsey, Surrey. This arrangement gave them access to Weir Lodge's workshop facility, and a corner was also made available there to leading car body-builder Maurice Gomm. The 1961 Pau Grand Prix was followed by a similar non-Championship Formula 1 race on the Heysel circuit at Brussels, in which Ian Burgess and the Camoradi-entered Lotus-Climax 18 finished eighth. He was then disqualified from the Aintree '200' (for taking on oil during the race specifically prohibited under the new 1½-litre Formula 1 regulations for 1961-65). Three Camoradi International team entries were made for the Intercontinental Formula BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone on May 6 that year, two Lotus 18s and their 'Lowline' Cooper Type 53. However, none of the cars appeared in this up-to-3-litre event.
Fortunes then improved quite literally considering the attractive cash prizes - in the Naples GP, in Italy, in which Ian Burgess finished fourth, after surviving a lurid spin at the hairpin bend at the bottom of the Posillipo hill.
No private equipe could hope to compete on even terms with the works teams, even those using supposedly identical 4-cylinder Coventry Climax engines, and Ian Burgess in the Camoradi Lotus failed to qualify for its first two World Championship Grand Prix races, the Dutch and the Belgian. The combination then finished 14th in the French GP, a result repeated in the British event run in a downpour at Aintree.
At that point in the season Masten Gregory left the team to drive for the British Racing Partnership and Burgess took over the team's 'Lowline' Cooper. He had by then concluded that although works Lotuses were faster than works Coopers, the same was not true for the private cars from each marque.
Failure to qualify for the restricted Dutch Grand Prix field had been his biggest disappointment of the year, while that same event at Zandvoort had brought his luckiest escape. Certain teams were guaranteed starts irrespective of their qualifying times, while Camoradi was not one of them. Gregory in fact qualified inside the top ten and Burgess just outside them yet he was faster than three cars that were guaranteed starts and still the organisers refused to permit him take to the grid.
On his last practice lap in the Lotus 18 he had rocketed flat-out past the pits at perhaps 150mph and was diving down into the 180-degree Tarzan Hairpin when the car's throttle stuck open. "I hit the ignition 'kill' switch," he recalled, "...but this was one of the things the mechanics hadn't got around to wiring up yet and I went off and into the fence."
That accident "took everything off the top" of the Lotus but the driver emerged miraculously unharmed and the car was speedily rebodied by Maurice Gomm in time for the Belgian event at Spa-Francorchamps. Unfortunately the Belgian club had no start money to offer Camoradi International, and so the car non-started there.
'Lucky' Casner himself failed to qualify the car for the non-Championship Solitude Grand Prix in Germany, that July, after which the Camoradi Lotus 18 did not reappear for the remainder of that year.
Into 1962 American former Lotus importer/distributor Jay Chamberlain made an arrangement with Casner and Camoradi and we believe that he drove this Lotus 18, chassis '908', in the Glover Trophy Formula 1 race at Goodwood that Easter Monday, only to be sidelined by a water leak after six laps. The unfortunate Mr Chamberlain was then disqualified from the Aintree '200' after receiving an illegal push-start on the grid, but at Silverstone in the BRDC International Trophy race he finished at last 16th in the then obsolescent 4-cylinder Formula 1 car, running against the new generation of V8 cars. He failed to qualify for the Naples GP, and broke a connecting rod at Crystal Palace. In its 1962 guise the car carried an extended 'high penetration' nose cone, presumably as modified by Maurice Gomm, Camoradi's effective 'in-house' bodywork specialist.
Swedish driver Olle Nygren was given a run in the car at the Karlskoga Kanonloppet event that August, retiring with gearbox failure, while Jay Chamberlain brought the car home ninth on aggregate in the car at Roskilde, Denmark later that month. In November, the car reappeared with Jay Chamberlain at the helm, racing in the non-Championship inaugural Mexican Grand Prix at Mexico City. Again, he finished ninth, completing 53 laps of that long, hot event.
Lotus 18 '908' now offered here was acquired by Olav Glasius following a tip-off that he received while manning the Club Lotus stand at the annual Maastricht Classic Car Show. A visitor mentioned that "five Lotuses are being auctioned in Aachen", and one of them proved to be this Lotus Type 18 being offered as part of a divorce settlement by the wife of a local named Hoepermann who had evidently owned it for many years. It has proved extremely difficult to isolate the specific interim history of this undoubtedly genuine and highly-original Type 18 between its Camoradi International period 1961-62 and its time with Herr Hoepermann in the 1980s/90s. However, there is one Type 18 ownership thread as published in 'Theme Lotus', by Doug Nye (published by Motor Racing Publications Ltd, Chiswick, London, 1978) which has chasiss '908' passing through the hands of British club racer John Ewer, then on to P. Bailey in 1963, to Sid Colbert in the United States and then to Nigel Moores's collection in 1970.
What is established is that the car as offered here was Herr Hoepermann's engineless green-painted example bought by Mr Glasius from the Aachen auction sale in remarkably original and unspoiled condition, apart from having apparently remained unused for many, many years. The former owner had evidently kept the car's original chassis plate as a memento, but after acquiring the car Olav Glasius entrusted it for initial restoration to specialists Ken and Neil Myers in Northamptonshire, England.
During the work they carried out upon the car, stripping off the nose bodywork's coats of green paint revealed the blue-striped white livery of Camoradi International underneath. (Photograph on file) The car was then transferred to the respected Lotus racing car specialist Peter Denty for final full restoration to running order. Mr Glasius decided to fit it with a 1960 Formula 1 /1961 InterContinental Formula 2½-litre Coventry Climax FPF twin-cam engine. One was acquired from fellow collector/racer Nick Mason, and it is installed in the car as offered today, breathing through enormous and now very rare and valuable 58mm twin-choke Weber carburettors. This engine drives to the rear wheels via a Colotti five-speed transaxle. In this guise the car has competed successfully at the Goodwood Revival in the very capable hands of well known historic racer and printing magnate Simon Diffey.
The car as offered features original period chassis, body and welded aluminium fuel tanks, believed largely period body panels and detail original features literally too numerous to list here. As is so often the case with obsolescent Formula 1 cars, '908' here has benefited from having spent many years in obscure private ownership, unused. It is, in many ways, one of the most impressively specified Lotus 18s that we have ever been asked to offer.