Lotus 40/L/1

Chassis No.
Known Owners
40/1
1965 Team Lotus

1966 Bob Walters

early '70s Peter Denty

This Lotus 40 made it's racing debut at the Austrian GP for Sports Cars on Aug. 22, 1965. With Team Lotus' number two Mike Spence driving, he broke Dan Gurney's F1 lap record by 2.1 secs in qualifying. Starting from the front of the pole, Mike held the lead for 13 laps over the bumpy track until he retired on the 13 lap from overheating problems.

The next outing was the following weekend on August Monday where Jim Clark took it out for the International Guards Trophy Race at Brands Hatch. Bad luck persisted, with Clark spining twice in Heat One before stopping with a gear link failure. Heat Two was even worse, as the brakes gave out putting Clark against the bank at Clearways.

At the end of September before taking the car to Riverside, California, for the Los Angeles Times GP, Jack Sears was testing the car at Silverstone. The 40 let go and Sears slid off the track into the left-side bank and rolled. Sears was severly injured and the crash eventually lead to him retiring from his racing career. (To read more about Jack's comments on the accident, follow this link.)

The car was rebuilt, and shipped to the USA for the Riverside race. With Ritchie Ginther at the wheel, the car once again stopped short of the end of the race. Ginther retired with a broken gearbox. When Ginther was asked what the difference was between the Lotus 30 and 40, his answer was that they took the Lotus 30, made 10 more mistakes and called it the Lotus 40. (For more on his comment.)

Following the Riverside race, both of Team Lotus' 40s were put up for sale. Privateer Bob Walters bought the car from the works sale, and used the car for several years of club racing. He then used the engine, gearbox, exhaust and various other parts in his Concord 5000 car. According to Walters, the Concord was said to have even upstaged the 40!

In the early '70s, the noted Lotus restoration expert Peter Denty was looking for a Hewland LG500 gearbox and tracked down the 40 in Maidstone. Denty eventually bought the car, minus the engine which had recently been sold for use in a road Capri. When he returned to his shop with the car, Denty says, "Everyone just fell about laughing. We dragged it home, pushed it to the back of the workshop and forgot about it."

Denty started on the car's restoration in 1984. He reconstructed the chassis with thicker guage steel and used nickel input to stop any splitting of the welds. Chapman's Z-sectioned suspension was replaced by square tubing. Denty has become the world's formost authority on Lotus 30 and 40 restorations, as he not only restored this car, but his shop also restored several Lotus 30s while working on his 40. A Lotus 30 from Germany was used for body moulds, and Denty was generously allowed by Peter Regna to study Regna's presitine Lotus 40/L/2. As the engine was missing, and a 351 Cleveland engine was difficult to find, a Ford 302 was prepared by Mathwall Engineering to GT40 specifications.

Known Race Schedule

Race Shedule
Race Finish Driver
Aug. 22, 1965
Austrian GP, Zeltweg, Austria Retired, 13th lap with overheating problems. Mike Spence
Aug. 30, 1965 International Guards Trophy Race, Brands Hatch Retired, spin in 5th place during second heat. Jim Clark
Oct. 31, 1965 LA Times GP, Riverside, CA Retired, broken gearbox Ritchie Ginther

Source:

"Forgotten Forty", Mike Walsh, Classic and Sportscar, July, 1992.

This page last updated on 4/9/2004.

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