In reviewing the latest register listing I had observed that 51A/FF/118 AM120 was correctly listed as being owned by myself, David Trueman. However, my second car 51A/FF/120 AM122 was not listed.
I am nearing completion of a total restoration of both of these chassis and hope to reintroduce them before the end of this vintage season. I have with your assistance contacted Truesports and they are going to see me at Mid Ohio with regard to my Koni, shock requirements.
My next request is information regarding steel wheels. In one of the last bulletins (dated Winter 94-95), Vern had suggested Diamond Racing Wheels of Milwaukee. Has anyone used this supplier, and is the product satisfactory or perhaps, are there other options which you would recommended?
Thank you for your assistance.
Dave; I don't have any experience with Diamond. If anyone else does please email us. Peter Denty in England has new Dunlop steels (original equipment). (ed.)
I came across the LFFR web site whilst surfing and discovered you have me registered! I assume Peter Denty provided my details since he has done much of the restoration on the car.
I thought you might be interested in a picture of the car (and me!) in action at Castle Combe circuit in the SW of England. The car is raced regularly in the UK's Classic FF 1600 championship run by the British Racing and Sports Car Club. The championship caters for FF1600 cars built before 1980 and runs two classes, one for pre-74 cars (class A) and 74-80 cars (class B).
Apart from my car, there is one other type 61 driven by Dave Lowe (not on the register!) who has been champion for the last 3 years and we occasionally get a 51 driven by Albert Clements (also not on the register) making an appearance.
Although my car/driver combination is not in any danger of winning races, we did pick up an award last year for best prepared car in class A.
I am now preparing for a special Lotus 50th anniversary meeting at Brands Hatch on June 6th/7th which will feature everything from Sevens to F1 cars. It looks like we may have around 30 type 51/61s for a FF1600 race. I don't think that many Lotus FFs will have raced together in the UK since FF was first introduced.
I'll let you know how the meeting went and see if I can get details of the unregistered cars.
Yes, Peter did provide your information. I have intended to do a mailing to inform registered owners of the site. This should happen soon. Perhaps I'll wait and see if you have found any new owners as a result of the Brands event. Hope it is going well and has been enjoyed by all. Wish I could have gone! (.ed)
Dear Bill Dolson
I just found the way to your E Mail Address and your Formula Ford Register.
As you now, I am still working on the Lotus 61 book. I cannot believe that there are real Lotus 61 F3 cars, built by the factory. The following info came from my book:
According to Nigel Halliday, who owns two Lotus 61, the exact meaning of ”X” in the Lotus 61 FF range is not known. The popular belief is to denote 4" lower body line, no rear cowling? 1970 and 1971 production, strengthened gearbox side plates, new engine mounts, long range fuel tanks, redesigned dashboard, repositioned oilcooler, higher and stronger rollover bar and a 4 pt oilcatch tank.
1970/71 MX cars had no rear engine cover, and for this reason no brackets to fix it on the rearframe?
Three different chassis number batches are known. Very early cars had # 61/FF/1. # 61-33 is not a proper chassis number. It is a Arch Motor frame number, which is visible on the rearframe, left. Later cars had AM 135. # 61/MX/F3/55 is the first number for a modified chassis. In 1970 some unsold 61 frames were modified to MX specifications, some cars were built brand new. Some cars had two chassis numbers. Very confusing. # 61/FF/127 was red, frame number # 61/135 gearbox LC 253, engine 240 A # 61MX/F3/127 was red/white, frame number # AM 135 gearbox LC 253, engine 240A.
F3 meaning is not known. No Lotus 61 is known, delivered in real F3 trim, which means a TC engine in the back and wider wheels. In 1970/71 Lotus had the MK 69 in F II (with semi monocoque) form in F III (with tubular chassis) with a Twin Cam, for USA as FB, and in FF (with tubular chassis) with a Ford engine on the market.
About 54 Lotus 61 FF cars were sold to Caterham Car Sales at the end of 1971. 1972 Jeremy Coulter in Lotus & Caterham Seven: “Mike Warner had certainly risen to the challange of increasing production and efficiency at Lotus Components. Formula Fords, now in type 61 guise, were made at an extraordinary rate. Sales manager Graham Arnold, who had once quipped that Lotus Components could never produce sufficient cars for him to sell, now found himself in the position of having a log jam of racing cars. Hoowever, this was not of immediate significance to Mike Warner. Under the accounting system used by Lotus at that time, all the cars that Lotus Components (the race car department) made were sold internally to Lotus Sales and thus appeared as a credit on Components’s books even if they weren’t sold to the public. On a evening, Chapman was walking around his factory and found a large batch of unsold cars in one of his hangars. He was not amused and said ”I would like to see next week no unsold car anymore standing around in my hangars.” To ”clean the floor” Mike Warner had immediately these 61’s propped up against the walls of the Hethel hangar. In 1971, Mike Warner left Lotus Racing (formerly Lotus Components), Graham Arnold had moved over to the Lotus Boat division so Chapman brought back former Sales Manager John Berry as freelance salesman and one of the tasks he was given was to sort out the debris left after the closure of Lotus Racing and sell off all the old stock. A priority on Berry’s list was to get rid of the se 61 FF cars. Many of theses cars were in a dilapidated state, covered in bird droppings and with brake fluid corrosion on the chassis where the master cylinder had leaked. Caterham Cars bought these cars as a part of their copyright/manufacturers rights of the Lotus Seven S III and sold these cars to various owners within the next month for very reasonable prices. About 248 Lotus 61 FF cars were manufactured.
Bodinusstraße 9, D - 40239 Düsseldorf, Germany
Phone: +49 / 2 11 / 68 17 66, Fax. +49 / 2 11 / 6 91 44 23
Good to have you on the web!
I have info from Fred Stevenson, who ran Lotus Racing East, and was very involved with Formula Ford, being the main force to get the SCCA to adopt it as a class in the US. He said that the F3 designation was STRICTLY a sales tool, primarily for the US, to provide, in his words, a little "sizzle" to the otherwise unloved 61. (American slang: "sizzle" is the sound a steak makes when being cooked) The x in the Mx designation (and it is lower case, as opposed to the upper case M) is simply Lotus shorthand for "also suitable for". Several of the type 69 Formula Fords which were built on F3 chassis were identified as 71/69/nFFxF3. In this case meaning Formula Ford serial number n, also suitable for F3. I am not sure of the exact chassis differences but I can refer to the drawings if required.
The 1970 Model Lotus 61 was known by Components as the "61M", the "M" standing for modified. I agree with Nigel's description of the modifications. I have period ads from Components which identify it as such. The "xF3" was added strictly to jazz up the admittedly modest offering, most Americans buying Formula Fords not having a clue what a proper F3 car of the era consisted of.
Much of the confusion arose because many Lotus sales agents were not aware of the nomenclature meaning or chose to ignore it, particularly in the US. Some of them began to advertise the car as the 61MX, particularly on the West Coast. The X-plane designations of NASA, very much in the news at that time, was probably a factor too. An "X" designation probably had more "sizzle" in the American Midwest than an F3 designation.
There has sprung up all kinds of misinformation about the 61 variants. I have had people tell me there was a factory 61 version with a top exhausting nose ala Lotus 69. I have had people tell me the 61MX had a nose which was cut back 6 inches. It turns out both of these permutations were variants marketed by sales agents in the south and west, no doubt desperate to shift stocks of obsolete 61's and address the cooling problems which surfaced in the high temperatures of the American South. I have owned 61s with both of these modifications, apparently having left the agents in that manner. Don't forget that Lotus agents were selling 61s well after Components had gone out of business.
Anyway, hope this helps. Good to hear from you and keep in touch.
As a former Lotus FF owner (and, hopefully, again someday) it's great to see you've taken over the register and put up the web site. I've owned 3 Lotus 51's (numbers 24, 141, and 217) over the years, and still kick myself weekly for getting rid of them. They were all owned one at a time, and for various reasons (none of which seem good) sold or traded them. Through Vern and the register, it's been good keeping track of them. Some great memories, interesting stories, and nice photos.
Before the 51's, I owned a 61M purchased in a local give away classified newspaper. It's that car that I've lost track of, and am curious as to where it ended up. As I mentioned, it was a 61M. I really wasn't into numbers in those days, but think it was something around 214. The wedge top body piece came off in one piece, and had a green tint windshield. I've seen some 61's that have had a fibreglas piece underneath like the 51's that attached to the top piece. But mine had fixed aluminum side pieces that were attached to the frame. It did not have the rear cowling. It had alloy wheels (slot mags), and the engine had an Armstrong Race Engineering (ARE) dry sump system, with the oil tank and battery hanging off the rear. It was silver when I had it. I had a log book with it, and remember a previous owner was Lynn Griffiths. I bought it in Sacramento...sold it to Larry Cleland, who sold it to Don Day in the Bay Area. I lost track of it after that, but think it may have gone to a Rocky Mountain state (Maybe). Anyway, if any of this sounds familiar, I'd like to hear from anyone who knows or owns the car to catch up. Thanks for the forum, and continued success with the register, of which I hope to become a part someday in the future.
Could you please post this on your site
The 19th VARAC Vintage Festival (May 29,30-31) 1998
This year's festival in addition to the normal VARAC classes and a return visit from the MG Racers will have Lotus as the featured Marque.
Why Lotus? - It was 50 years ago that Colin Chapman built the Lotus 1 trials car out of an Austin 7 which was found rotting in a garden. The whole project was accomplished during his service in the RAF. The story of the construction of this car parallels many of the stories (myths or otherwise) that I've heard from VARAC members and other vintage racers about the original construction and restoration of their cars. Following his RAF service Chapman's "hobby" became more involved and the trials cars gradually gave way to the race cars and the ongoing innovation that we've seen in Chapman's designs. The hobby finally became a business in 1951 when Lotus Engineering was formed and the Lotus III went into production. The rest is history!
Lotus cars have had a long history of competing at Mosport. The past year's VR articles about Mosport have mentioned the 19's of Francis Bradley, Peter Ryan, Stirling Moss and Dan Gurney. I can remember seeing Jim Clark soldiering on with the uncompetitive Lotus 30 at a pre Can-Am Canadian GP, and Jim Clark and Graham Hill sharing the front row of the grid in 49's at the first Canadian F1 GP. The track has also seen many 6's, 7's, 11's, 19's, 23's, 47's, Elans, Elites, Europas, Cortinas, and the whole range of formula cars (Fjr, FF, FB to USAC, FA and F1). Many examples of these as well as other Lotus competition cars are still running in VARAC and other Vintage/Historic races in North America.
It is hoped that the Celebration of the contribution of Lotus at the 19th VARAC Vintage Festival will have representation of as many different competition models as possible. So bring out your Loti !
Festival Web Site: http://www3.sympatico.ca/chryselwood/varac.html
Ran across an old copy of Autoweek (Competition Press) and saw a 61 on the
cover. You wouldn't believe the ads. There is one ad from a dealer for new
51C's giving further support to their existance.
Click HERE to see the Autoweek Photo. (ed.)
Now that I know that the LFFR is alive and well, please update my car
information. I dug up all my old data that I had from a long time ago when
Vern was leading the charge [how is Vern - OK I hope...]. Anyway I found
my letter from Team Lotus in England, dated 1/30/92, indicating that my car
data is as follows:
Chassis#: 61MX/F3/64 Frame#: 61-77
I was manufactured between 16.4.69 and 29.3.69 [English date format] as an
early F3 car.
I talked to the guy [tracked him down in South Africa, then followed him to
LA!] who brought the car in from Europe and he indicated that it was a
special Road Race/hillclimb car, hence the VERY big brakes and magnesium
wheels. It has the small bolt circle (6) nut bolt pattern used in early cars.
I haev a long history on the car the ALL the past owners - very interesting
since it raced at Laguna and Riverside in the Early/Mid 70's and held track
records at both - really Cool!!! Then it changed hands and was basically
stored from '78 to '91 when I bought it.
Again, Great job on the site!!
Thank you Glenn. Vern is just fine, talk to him a few weeks ago.
Interesting car. Looks like the earliest 61 we know of with the F3 designation.
We had always been told these cars never ran in F3 configuration, maybe this one
gave them the idea to badge all of the M's that way. (ed.)
It turns out my engine has more time on it than I thought. A leakdown test showed bad rings. I have started into a complete overhaul. The recent Formula Ford engine book by Jake Lamont came just in time!
The piston rings have beat the lands too wide. Dave Bean could not supply .030 OS pistons for my non-uprated block. Has anyone else had this problem yet? Is there a known legal solution?
Thanks, Kyle Swanson
Lotus 51 Serial Number 18
Kyle, try BAT, Inc. who advertises on my website. They stock lots of Formula Ford parts. I'll add them to the part finder. (ed.)
Bill - I'm pleased to let you know that the VARAC festival next year is featuring Lotus (open and closed wheel). Information is available at the VARAC Website .
Are you aware of a similar registry for closed wheel LOTUS Racers and the other open wheel LOTI.
70 Europa Type 54
The July 10 Issue of Autosport features two stories of interest. On page 105 the new English engine rules are announced and the piece features a great picture of a Lotus 51 beside a RF97. Then, on page 116 there is a 30th Aniversary drive comparison between the '51 and the RF97. Very Interesting!
Cleaning out my files, I ran accross this letter on 2 61's that were offered for sale in Florida. I thought you might find the street car interesting for the newsletter. Also, the body looks like the car on your website. Is it the same one?
Also, I'm glad to write an article on '69 history/restoration culminating in the Tustin and upcoming L.A. races.
See the Photo Album. (ed.)
Hi, I have been racing a friends Lotus 51B for a year and have just bought a 51A for my self.....The friend is Bill Nay and his car is listed in the registry........And I guess I would like to list mine also.......It is an old Russell school car that has not been on the track for quite a few years.. There is no chassis plate but there is the number on the left rear of the chassis....It is 95% complete and we will do a winter restoration on it and hope to have it on the track in the spring..... Let me know what is involved in adding this car to the registry. Thanks ......Jerry Burr.....Berkeley CA
We will be adding a fill-out form to do online registry very soon, stay tuned. (ed.)
Don't know if you're aware of a Smith gauge repair shop quite close to you.
Had them do two Smith Chrono tachs at $125 each....excellent. They also have the capacity for repairing most any Smith gauge, and have an inventory of used (from more than 40 years of service work).
Nisonger Instrument Sales and Service
570 Mamaroneck Ave.
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
Given the age of these vehicles, resources that can correctly reproduce or repair specific parts are important to preserve.
(I use them all the time, ed.)
Wonderful. This is a great idea. I look forward to more additions to the sight. With luck maybe I can even contribute an article or two.
You probably don't recognize my name, but you and I conversed several years ago. I have collected an index of all the Lotus FF information I could find. I am also working on a 51 Technical Manual. It is slowly making progress, but at this rate will be a life long endeavor. I'll try to send an update when I get a chance.
I spend my few free hours working on my 51. I ran the VARA Tustin Thunder event a couple of weeks ago and had a great time. I had a few problems but managed to run pretty well. There was a large grid of Formula Fords, I think about 40 cars. the next event I can affoard is in October at Willow Springs. Maybe I'll have the body work cleaned up by then.
Lotus 51 FF Chassis #18
Hi Bill , here is the number that is on the left rear of the chassis of the Lotus 51 that I recently acquired: (184 )..... The log book indicated that it was a Russell school car and then was raced in southern Calif.....It is going to be a winter project it looks like.........I'm interested in registering it ......Let me know what I need to do....
Thanks , Jerry Burr
Hope all is well and going according to plan. Please can you shed any info on either of the following '61.
1) 61/FF/212, LC417, currently in U.K. owned by Dan Collins (owned by him for approximately 10 years).
2) 61/FF/158 LC276, engine LH 252. Being restored by us, my own car, came in awful condition with 2 very sad ex-M.R.S.S. heaps.