Even the most ardent Lotus fans would be excused for not knowing about the Type 66 - not least because it was never actually made. Back in the day, Colin Chapman was intrigued by the possibilities of Lotus in Can-Am, but was occupied with F1, so he tasked a chap called Geoff Ferris to run feasibility studies on the idea, but Type 66 never advanced beyond technical drawings and scale models. Now, however, Type 66 has been realised with this incredible track car, of which ten will be made.
Of course, this isn’t the conventional reimagination or even restoration, because the car didn’t reach production. Instead, this Type 66 represents what modern-day Lotus, with plenty of involvement from Clive Chapman, believes the race car could have been back in 1970. Only enhanced with the very latest technology. So, yeah, it’ll probably be as spectacular to experience as it is to look at.
This design team for 66 has been headed up by Lotus Design Director Russell Carr. Bringing a vision more than 50 years old into the present day clearly isn’t the work of a moment, because you want the original purity to be maintained while also introducing some vestige of safety into an 800hp race car - but look at this thing: job jobbed, right? It came to life by digitising the original scale drawings and creating renders from there, which then had to be CFD-optimised for the best aerodynamic performance possible. Like any less would be expected of a Lotus race car. Its maker reckons there’s going to be more than 800kg of downforce at 150mph; far more than a Type 66 would have been capable of in period, thanks to the use of modern tech. Carr added of the finished Lotus: “There is a real delicacy in remastering the past. This is not a re-edition or a restomod, but a completely new breed of Lotus – a commitment that our past glories will continue to be reflected in our future.”
And the beautiful design - presumably available in colours other than red, white, and gold - isn’t even the best bit. Because mere weeks after the launch of the final Lotus production car with a combustion engine comes this very limited track car with a honking great V8. Final numbers aren't available yet, but the Type 66 team is aiming for 841hp at 8,800rpm and 550lb ft at 7,400rpm from the pushrod motor; even if they fall short of those exact figures, it still promises to be a mighty engine that’s hooked up to a six-speed sequential. The V8 is guaranteed to get forged aluminium pistons, rods and crank, plus those gorgeous intake trumpets. No wonder Lotus says it’ll lap as fast as a GT3 car…
The Type 66 chassis is described as ‘period-representative’, so it features extruded aluminium sections, bonded joints, and aluminium honeycomb panels. The bodywork is carbon. Power steering, ABS and a fixed rollover bar are there to ‘unlock maximum performance on track’, and presumably make the thing just a tad less scary. Similarly, an inboard fuel cell is probably a heck of a lot safer than whatever passed for acceptable in 1970. The interior is described by Lotus as ‘modernised’, though you won't be mistaking if for anything other than an old-school racer.
Lotus Advanced Performance’s Exec Director Simon Lane said: “The Type 66 perfectly blends the past and present. It takes drivers back in time, to the iconic design, sound and pure theatre of motorsport more than 50 years ago, with added 21st century performance and safety. This is a truly unique project and in our 75th anniversary year it’s the perfect gift from Lotus, to fans worldwide and to a handful of customers.” Following a reveal at The Quail, A Motorsport Gathering, the lost Lotus will be shown at the Pebble Beach Concours over the weekend. Even by the standards of everything else seen this week, the Type 66 is surely guaranteed to steal the show. Even at more than a million each, don’t be surprised if all 10 are spoken for very soon.
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