*This is a translation done by a machine.
The prestigious British company Lotus was more famous for its chassis than its engines. Originally a racing car manufacturer, the brand focused more on chassis and aerodynamics than on the development of engines, which cost a fortune. In a sense, it was a rational decision.
This is evident in the current Lotus models. The latest Emira is powered by Toyota or Mercedes-AMG powertrains, and in the past has been powered by Coventry Climax, Renault, GM (Isuzu), and Rover engines. As a side note, perhaps the reason why the Chinese-capitalized modern Lotus announced its decision to switch to the BEV brand so quickly was because, historically speaking, "there is no commitment to engines other than performance" (of course, the fact that it became part of Geely was the biggest factor in this change). This is not to say that Lotus did not have its own engines. The company produced four- and eight-cylinder engines, known as the 900 series, from the 1970s through the 1990s.
Ford had a close relationship with Lotus in terms of supplying engines for both racing and production cars (along with Coventry Climax). The beginning of the relationship with Ford was a great boost to Lotus' corporate fortunes.
Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, which had taken the racing car world by storm, was looking for a successor to the expensive and obsolete Coventry Climax engine. Chapman, who had his eye on the Ford Kent engine, teamed up with Cosworth to develop a racing engine and installed it in his company's racing cars, and then deepened their relationship by combining their own twin cam head design and installing it in the Elan.
Ford also wanted to take advantage of the Lotus brand image, which had been so successful in the world of racing and sports cars. At the time, Ford apparently had an image of being "outdated" in the mass-market model segment, being overwhelmed by the Mini and others.
Therefore, Ford asked Lotus to produce a homologation model of a touring car. Specifically, the Ford Consul Cortina was to be developed as a super-practical car with a 1.6-liter engine from the same Lotus head as the Elan, and the 2 door body and chassis were to be tuned by Lotus for use as a racing base model. The production was also contracted by Lotus, which made the operation much more stable despite the fact that the manufacturing capacity was greatly exceeded, a story that greatly benefited Chapman.
Thus, the model born in 1963 was the Ford Consul Cortina (developed by) Lotus, or Lotus Cortina for short. Later, a second generation appeared, so today we call this first generation the Mk1 (when we say Mk1 in older cars, it is usually a retroactive naming convention, since the successor model came later).
The early Lotus Cortina was packed with Lotus ideas, such as a lightweight body and unique rear suspension, and although it had many troubles, it dominated the touring car races and was a beneficial collaboration for both Ford and Lotus. The production model gradually shifted to specifications similar to those of the standard top grade GT, but the 1.6-liter engine with twin-cam head made by Lotus remained unchanged.
In 1967, the styling of the Cortina was changed to the second generation and the Mark 2 was born. The change was mainly a skin change, but in terms of mechanism, it followed the Mark 1. Naturally, the top grade of the Mark 2 was still Lotus, but the Lotus color gradually faded, and the specifications became similar to those of the Cortina GT except for the engine, and eventually even the name of the car became Cortina Twincam. The Mark 2 was designed by Roy Haynes, who was famous for the minor-changed version of the Mini. This is probably why the similarities in the mask design can be seen.
Eventually, two generations of the Cortina Lotus were produced from 1963 to 1970. Total production is said to have been around 7300 units.
|Jun Nishikawa's Highlights!
This is a 1967 Cortina GT modified to Mk2 Lotus specifications, which has been modified to a very desirable specification for Sunday racing.
The car was imported from New Zealand in 2013, and at that time it had already been modified to be ready for circuit driving. The current owner is the third owner in Japan. The current owner acquired the car in 2017 through an introduction from a famous maintenance store (Tortoise Racing Service) after the previous owner had left the car almost unused, and has since finished the car to a satisfactory condition.
The car had been highly modified with a competition fuel tank, but the current owner has made further modifications to the car. First of all, the roll gauge, which had been welded to pass Japanese vehicle inspections, was reattached, various wiring was rewired, the steering wheel was changed to rack and pinion, the OHV circuit spec engine was replaced with a Lotus twin cam, new pistons and connecting rods were made, the front disc brakes were ventilated, Willewood calipers, 14-inch Revolution alloy wheels, Mounty small-diameter steering wheel, optimized accelerator pedal linkage, rear plate spring disassembly and adjustment, new roof liner, and many other upgrades that will satisfy even the most discerning enthusiast.
The owner's original innovations can also be seen here and there. The windshield was cracked, so Triplex (U.K.) custom ordered glass with hot wire, blurring, and logo. The center console is the same as for the Fairlady Z (S30). The passenger seat is for the Escort, the pedals and rear number base are for the Mini, and the wipers are diverted from the Skyline.
It is worrisome how hard the cars were used because they were finished with so much attention to running, but the current owner is actually not interested in racing or circuit events, and has enjoyed them exclusively as utility vehicles for daily use such as commuting and shopping. Conversely, the car was built as a means of transportation that can be used on rainy days, windy days, and even in typhoons, so we believe that the reliability of the car is quite high. Fuel consumption is not bad, and the car runs close to 9 km per liter.
Currently, the only concerns seem to be a strange noise coming from the differential gear (which should be OH), a louder noise due to the pillow ball that was added when the rack and pinion was converted, and a small water leak around the triangular window.
According to the owner, "They don't let me drive slow. Every time I go around a curve, the speed goes up. I want to give it to someone who will take good care of it before I crush it myself". He has decided to let it go so that he can graduate from enjoying driving for a while and move on to a practical car for his family.
This is the epitome of a production-based sports car, a Cortina GT/Lotus version that is ready for real-world competition. You can go classic car racing or buy it as a practical hobby car to enjoy driving as it is. Overall, there is some rust, paint cracks, and damage to the moldings, but it is a very atmospheric piece.
Originally written by Jun Nishikawa
Photo by Junichi Okumura
Published on July 2023
|Year of Purchase