1965 saw the production of three Lotus 40's, the last sports racing cars
to be built by Lotus. It was far from successful and only three models
were completed, a sad end to an illustrious period of racing for
It followed the lacklustre performance of the Lotus 30, and Colin Chapman still had the desire to compete against the Olds V8's in the CanAm series. The 40 was based on the type 30 with stronger chassis and suspension.
Three cars were readied for the LA Times Grand Prix in Riverside, Ca. for 1965. Two were driven by Lotus drivers Clark and Gunther, while the third was delivered to the Holman-Moody race team to be driven by A.J. Foyt.
During testing at Riverside, HM mechanic Bob Tattersail shunted Foyt's car leaving it unfit to race. Both of the other cars failed to finish due to mechanical problems.
Holman-Moody returned to Charlotte to ready the car for the Bahamas Speed Week in Nassau. The car lasted three laps and retired. Holman-Moody then returned to Charlotte with the car and joined the development of the legendary Ford GT40.
The Lotus 40 remarkably similar to the GT40. It had a Lotus chassis and used the same Lola Ford GT40 drivetrain and engine. Both cars had Shelby 289 engines with a ZF5DS25 gearbox, however the Lotus used the Tecalmit-Jackson fuel injection where Ford used Webers. Both accounted for around 150 additional horsepower. Ford would use the 351 Cleveland in later years.
Piecing together the history of the car pictured here is difficult. No one really remembers what happened to the HM Lotus 40 other than to speculate that it was a test mule for the HM Ford GT40 project. The Lotus 40 resembles the Ford in rear suspension, mechanics and body work. It's known that the car returned to England and ran at Silverstone under the Spanish Racing Banner and then retired until located in the late 80's outside Silverstone "in a barn". The car was taken back to the US where it was bought in 1995.
Over the years it's been completely disassembled down to the last rivet, then painted, tested and reassembled. As many of the original parts have been retained as possible, although it now sports traditional Lotus Green with the yellow stripe unlike the pale blue that it's worn for the last thirty years.
Hopefully, we'll see this car out in the fresh air again soon, and perhaps at Silverstone again one day. Just don't go leaving it in a barn again!
Type 40 Links