1963 Lotus-BMW Type 23B Sports-Racing Two-Seater
Chassis no. 23-S-85
John Blunsden, much respected Associate Editor of 'Motor Racing' magazine in the UK, wrote in 1962 that "The Lotus 23 is the closest thing to the 22 Junior that it is possible to make, that will carry a scaled-down and smoothed out Appendix C (Lotus 19-type) Monte Carlo body...".
This was in fact the last purebred small-capacity sports-racing car to be designed from the ground up by Colin Chapman and his team. Upon its launch at the 1962 London Racing Car Show, the Lotus 23 emerged as the neatest, sleekest sports-racing car ever seen. Although it was intended essentially as an 1100cc class contender, up-to-1000cc engines were another option and early in the 1962 season Lotus developed its own twin-cam headed version of the Ford engine, which emerged as a 1498cc unit. The first of these went into a works Type 23 which Jim Clark drove in the ADAC 1,000Kms World Championship round at the Nurburgring. There his performance in the little car was nothing less than stupendous, as he led the entire field until being overcome by fumes from a broken exhaust pipe.
Two works-backed Type 23s were then entered for the Le Mans 24-Hour race, one with 997cc and the other with 745cc engines, but the French scrutineers rejected them because while the front wheels had four-stud fixing the rears used six-stud. This contravened a requirement that the statutory spare wheel should fit both front and rear. Colin Chapman had the rear fixing modified to accept four studs only and so match the fronts, but the scrutineers then ruled out that ploy on the basis that if six studs were required in the original design, the Lotus would be plainly unsafe on only four. Concluding that the organisers were favouring rival French entries, and despite support from the British RAC, Colin Chapman was forced to withdraw the two 23s, vowing that his Lotus team would never race at Le Mans again; a vow he kept.
This did nothing to discourage tremendous sales success for the design. Into 1963 a Type 23B version was offered with more robust chassis and a 1558cc Lotus-Ford Twin-Cam engine as standard. Lotus 23s in the 1-litre, 1100cc and 1600cc racing categories at everything from the most modest club to the most major International level raced throughout the UK, Europe, the Americas, Southern Africa and Australasia and proved immensely successful. Production 1962-64 ended with 131 cars produced,and many more have been assembled both in and out of period by outside specialists.
This Glasius Collection car was acquired by Olav Glasius from American ownership, via the Bonhams & Brooks Quail Lodge Sale of 2001. We understand that three such Lotus 23s were assembled in period with the powerful BMW 4-cylinder 1800cc carbureted engine installed, driving through the Hewland transaxle. The car has been painstaking restored to Mr Glasius's specification by Bo Hare here in the UK, and it made its racing debut post-restoration in last year's Goodwood Revival Meeting, driven most competitively by Simon Diffey. While many currently raced Lotus 23s use modern-made bodywork with lower-than-original nose sections, this car is true to the original design which was intended to accommodate a regulation spare wheel lying flat above the foot-bay area and has the 1962-63-style higher-profile front section.
This is now an extremely high-performance Historic racing Lotus 23 with prodigious potential in the hands of a capable driver, and will surely provide a new owner/driver with some most enjoyable motor sport, or spectacularly rapid circuit-day use.
- We can now confirm that Lotus 23 chassis 23-S-85 offered here was originally sold as new to Span Incorporated in the USA. It was used in American club racing before passing to Mr Ed Branning of Colorado, by which time it was fitted with a Porsche flat-4 engine. We understand that Mr Branning replaced that power unit with a BMW1800 Tisa engine. As long ago as 1973 he sold this Lotus-BMW 23 to celebrated American collector/racer Mr Bob Sutherland. The BMW Tisa engine subsequently failed during his tenure, and was replaced by the 2-litre BMW unit which we believe is the one still in the car today, as acquired by Olav Glasius direct from the Sutherland Collection.
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