Lotus 49

Lotus 49

by Luca Dal Monte

The Lotus 49 is one of the most successful Lotus cars of all time – which, considering the extraordinary history of Colin Chapman’s team, is already an impressive credential. It’s also the last car driven by the legendary Jim Clark, who in the 1967 campaign wins four races and, with the Lotus 49, at Kyalami on January 1, 1968, competes in and wins his last Formula 1 Grand Prix – a unique event in the history of the World Championship where qualifying was held in one year (December 31, ’67) and the race in the following year.

Colin Chapman and Maurice Philippe, a long-time collaborator of the English genius from the mid-sixties to the early seventies, are in charge of the project. The Lotus 49 is designed to accommodate the brand-new Ford-Cosworth V8 engine, which Chapman urges to be built for him to use on an exclusive basis in the 1967 season. In the Lotus 49, the engine is also a structural element. The car features a full monocoque chassis with an aluminum panel backbone. The fuel tanks are located in the side box sections.

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Jim Clark: Despite his four victories, including the debut win of the Lotus 49 at the Dutch Grand Prix, the unreliability of the new Ford-Cosworth V8 engine prevented Clark from clinching the 1967 World Championship title, despite winning more races than both the first (Denny Hulme) and the second-placed (Jack Brabham) drivers. His season is completed with a third-place finish at Monza and a victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, a race not valid for the World Championship standings.

Graham Hill: Despite finishing second in Monaco driving the Lotus 33, Graham Hill’s 1967 season is marked by an impressive series of retirements with the Lotus 49 – seven out of nine races. Apart from Monaco, the only real highlight in a season of immense frustration is the second place he achieves at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, the penultimate race of the season. In 1968, Graham will finish second in the opening race of the season, the South African Grand Prix, which also marks the last race for the Lotus 49.

Our model cars:

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Aesthetically, the Lotus 49 is also the last Lotus to be presented and raced in the traditional British Racing Green – with an elegant yellow stripe running through the middle.

During the 1967 season, the Lotus 49 suffers from the teething problems of what would become the most successful engine in Formula 1 history. Sudden power delivery fluctuations and ignition issues plague the season for Chapman’s two drivers, preventing them from contending for the World Championship title. Nonetheless, at the end of the season, the Lotus 49 still secures second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

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