SOLD for £51,000
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‘How can a man have a wife and a family, and a Lotus?’ Lotus Cars advertisement for the Lotus Cortina, 1965.
As Lotus worked tirelessly in the early 1960s to gain a toe hold in the British car market it was clear that though kudos and some profit was to be had from the specialist sports car market, the Elan and 7 were never going to provide the cash-flow and volume they required to break away from their ‘lock-up round the back of my Dad’s pub’ roots. What was required was a volume seller and when Uncle Henry came looking for a halo car complete with World Champions’ lustre, Lotus were only too delighted to help out, especially when the deal was to add their own brand of magic by bolting bits onto a complete body-shell. Ford delivered painted (just the white though, Lotus had to do the green ‘flashes’ otherwise they wouldn’t have been proper ‘go faster’ would they!) and trimmed shells from their Dagenham plant to the relatively modest Lotus works in Cheshunt, where some of the winning DNA from the pure-bred competition cars being assembled just a brick wall or two away would hopefully rub off on the capable if a little dull family car. Lotus hung race developed suspension on for full three wheel cornering, plumbed in the big brakes and inserted the key to the cars’ performance – the legendary Twin Cam engine along with its associated closer ratio gearbox and prop-shaft. Result? A quick and capable family saloon that Lotus could race on a Sunday and Ford could sell on a Monday - along with bucket loads of 1200 Deluxes.
When this particular Lotus Type 28 (AKA Lotus Cortina or ‘Cortina modified by Lotus’ if you toe the Ford line) rolled down the slightly precarious concrete ramp from the first floor Cheshunt production line in April 1965, the Type 38 was being finished prior to Jim Clark taking it to victory at The Brickyard the following month and Type 25s and 33s were being fettled partway through the Scott’s unprecedented six on the bounce Grand Prix victories that secured him the World Championship that year.
When on the hunt for a Lotus Cortina today, the ‘must haves’ are originality, condition and authenticity and we feel BJC 149C has all three boxes firmly ticked. The cars previous owner searched high and low for an unimpeachable car with all the correct features and this example fulfilled that particularly tall order. Aside from the key well known and documented body modifications the all-important ‘436’ Lotus identifying body tag and of course chassis plate are all present and correct along with the bonus of the red ‘Lotus 3A’ script under the rear parcel shelf trim. Having purchased the Lotus in complete and fairly good condition in 2011, he immediately embarked on a painstakingly thorough rebuild which he describes as, “a full bare shell, nut and bolt restoration”. New genuine Ford panels were used when available (not a cheap option with a front wing coming in at over £1,000) and the finished shell was professionally painted to a very high standard. New bumpers and irons were fitted with the other bright-work being refinished. The original factory fitted Special Equipment engine was rebuilt by Twin-cam guru Don Loughlin (anorak fact, the original Don of Aldon Automotive) retaining its ‘C’ Type camshafts and early style cam cover, finished in the correct SE green. Along with a new clutch, a slightly later Lotus gearbox was fitted providing improved synchromesh and stronger blocker bars, (though the original gearbox is supplied with the car) while the differential was professionally rebuilt. The rest of the running gear was ‘gone through’ and treated to new or reconditioned parts throughout. For the brake system this encompassed discs, pads, callipers, shoes, servo, master and slave cylinders. New Cunifer pipework was installed with Aeroquip lines being used for the flexible sections. New wheel bearings were installed all round along with new Spax gas adjustable rear shock absorbers and correct Lotus front struts. The 5.5J steel wheels were stripped and powder coated before being clad in fresh Dunlop Aquajet 165HR tyres in original 165 profile – in its self a good barometer of the then owner’s diligence and attention to detail. Inside there is a considerable amount of trim, especially set against other Lotus’ of the mid 1960s such as the Elan (not much) and 7 (hardly any), and this was entrusted to experts Aldridge Trimming who renewed virtually everything from the Lodestar headlining down, though the correct Lotus-only front seats (later cars shared their chairs with the lowly GT model) were considered to be in more than acceptable condition, though there is a small nick in the back of the driver’s seat as shown in the photo gallery. A slightly more substantial wood rim steering wheel was fitted but the original, which has been refurbished to a high standard, will be included in the sale should the Lotus clear its reserve. To complete the cabin a new, old stock dashboard was sourced and Lotus Cortina Spares Centre refurbished the dials.
Barely used and still with a proverbial ‘Running in, please pass’ sticker in the rear window, today the body-shell is in excellent order, resplendent in its Ermine White with Sherwood Green flash. Panel gaps and fit are very good and taking a look down the flanks or across the roof, the metalwork is arrow straight with the expertly applied paintwork free of blemishes or any hint of a run. The finish in the less visible areas such as wheel arches and underside is also very good with smooth stone chip resistant protection applied prior to the body colour; a couple of marks possibly caused by jacking the car up are the only detractors. The suspension, brake and drive train components are all finished to a high standard with just a light splatter of road grime here and there.
Being either new or refurbished the bright-work is very good throughout with only a polish of the C-post air vents on the ‘nothing better to-do’ list. Lucas H4 headlights and a Wipac reversing light are nice ‘quality’ touches.
The engine bay is very nicely finished with the servo and twin horns in their correct position, ‘yellow stripe’ vacuum hose, wire hose clips and new or re-plated bonnet prop and catches all showing impressive attention to detail. The Twin Cam itself if one of the sweetest we have encountered, starting on the button and quickly settling to a 900 RPM idle with 40 PSI oil pressure and no rattles or smoke evident.
Now sporting leaf spring rear suspension the April 1965 build date, strengthening kingposts in the boot plus brackets on the body shell and the remains of the same on the axle casing all point to BJC 149C having started life with the desirable if compromised A Frame rear suspension arrangement. Though reliability issues with the earlier setup have make this a not un-common modification, interestingly a previous owner was able to track down the second custodian of the Lotus who confirmed it was in this specification when he bought it back in 1970. Tuning wizards Ian Walker Racing were intrinsically linked to Lotus in the 1960s being virtually the Works B Team in many formulae and they offered a leaf spring conversion which can be differentiated from the Factory version by its lack of radius arms; none are present on BJC 149C.
Two files worth of history accompany the Lotus with a huge number of bills relating to the restoration work carried out which read like a veritable ‘Who’s who’ of the Lotus Cortina world; Aldridge Trimming, Lotus Cortina Spares Centre, QED, Stage 1 Motorsport and Paul Matty to name but a few. As mentioned, the previous owner diligently researched the car’s ownership history via both the DVLA and local authority vehicle registration records and has established that it was sold to the first owner through Jones Brothers, Ford dealers in Llanrwst near Betws-y-coed on 30th June 1965. The extensive documentation relating to this detective work is also on file along with the current V5C. Photos of the Lotus in Germany, when it served as a rather apt support vehicle to an historic race team, are also present along with some German paperwork dating from 1996 to 1998. There are also a couple of photos of it in restoration.
This Lotus Cortina is well known to the Lotus Cortina Register and substantiated by Andy Morrell; a genuine Factory example with period upgrades freshly restored to a very high standard, opportunities such as this do not come up every day.