A couple of weeks ago I went to a Q&A session hosted by the voice of British motor sport Murray Walker with Formula One designers Frank Dernie and Niel Oatley, one of the questions was about the carry over of Formula One technology to road car production and both vigorously nodded in the negative. However that does not mean if you win on Sunday you will not sell on Monday anymore than winning on Sunday will guarantee selling on Monday either. If there is any benefit to manufacturers racing on Sunday it is in the commodity of Brand awareness. Similarly by the 1970’s road car manufacturers like Lotus and Ferrari had found that road car manufacture was never going to meet all the expenses of racing in the sports top table, though Enzo Ferrari did his best to keep the toothpaste manufacturers off his cars for as long as possible while Colin Chapman bit the commercial sponsorship bullet at the earliest opportunity in 1968.
Either way in 1974 Lotus launched it’s new 2+2 Lotus Elite, it is not recorded how or if Ronnie Peterson’s three wins in the ageing Lotus 72 during 1974 aided sales or not. The 907 aluminium bloc motor for the new car was partly developed on the track by the noisy 1969 Lotus 62 sports car which I looked at a couple of months ago.
The chassis of the Type 75 Elite was the latest development of the back bone type first seen in the Lotus Elan in 1962 with independent suspension front and rear.
The only time I have come close to speaking to Mario Andretti was in 1979 while I was ambling along from the pits at Silverstone to the campsite on a beautiful summers evening with a large crowd of people during the 1979 British Grand Prix meeting. Behind me I felt something touch my leg, when I looked round to see what it was there was a blue Lotus Elite and at the wheel was none other than reigning World Champion Mario Andretti at the wheel, I was speechless as I stood aside to let him pass.
The Lotus Elite Type 75 was phased out in 1982 with 2,820 units built. A second variation, Elite Type 83, was built between 1980 and 1983 with just 153 units built. It is thought that less than 100 Elite type 75’s like this 1976 example are to be found on British roads today.
Thanks for joining me on this “Improving The Breed ?” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !