Tuesday, 20 July 2010

1968 Lotus 51c - Formula Ford

Formula Ford was conceived in the UK in the sixties, to create an entry-level series to 'train' new drivers at Geoff Clarke's Motor Racing Stables - a driving school based at Brands Hatch. Formula Three cars were the ideal size and setup, but proved expensive to be constantly putting in the hands of novices; Formula Ford took a Formula Three chassis and fitted it with a standard crossflow engine from a Ford Cortina, along with steel wheels and road tyres. The success of the concept led to the development of an official race series, with heavy backing from Ford and Lotus.

The Lotus 51 was the first model to be specifically designed from the ground-up for the Formula Ford series. This example is owned by Warwick, NY's Dick Leehr, and was race-prepped by Michael's Vintage Racing. It is what's known as a '51c' - the differences between the 51a, b & c are manifold and complex, but essentially it's the case that 51as generally don't have mountings for a dry-sump system, 51bs have improved rear suspension and 51cs have a Hewland transaxle. But let's not get bogged down in pernickerty specifics...

Dick Leehr's car has a dry-sumped 1600cc crossflow that produces around 110bhp. In a car that weighs around 400kg, that equates to incredible performance, even by modern standards. You can learn the spec in extraordinary detail here.


Dick L said...

I liked your coverage on the car. Just to add, its been vintage raced across the country for the last 25 years, ran the last race at Riverside CA in 1988, was in the Ford Racing Centennial in 2001 and just finished the 2010 season racing at Lime Rock Historics and the Turkey Bowl at Summit Point, WVA. Enjoy the car and the history,

Dick Leehr

juice said...

Thanks for the further info! It's great to see the car being used in anger, just as it's supposed to.