1966 Lotus Cortina Mk1


Colin Chapman built his first car in 1948. Built on an Austin 7 chassis and with its running gear the car was known as a Lotus Mark I. Chapman built further ‘specials’, however, it wasn’t until 1952 that Lotus Engineering was formed by Chapman and colleague Colin Dare. It was at this time that Lotus built its first production car the Lotus Mk VI. The legend was born and Lotus grew to become one of the world’s most respected and successful manufacturers of sports and racing cars. Over the years Lotus race cars claimed many victories and world championships. Their road cars used much of the technology and experience from the race cars and were equally as successful.

In the early years Chapman focused on race cars and it wasn’t until the mid-1950’s that he presented his first road car – the Lotus Type 14 or Elite – which was first shown at the 1957 London Motor Car Show at Earls Court. The car was very well received and ultimately very successful with just over 1,000 cars built through until 1963. Not surprisingly the Elite was also a very successful race car. In 1962 Lotus introduced the Elite’s successor, the Elan which became one of the most popular and successful sports cars ever built. The mid to late 1960’s and early 1970’s were good times for Lotus. Chapman wanted to leverage the early success of the Elan and build a mid-engine sports car using the formula that made Lotus successful. Chapman became famous for his engineering philosophy to ‘add lightness’. His cars were incredibly well engineered and always pushing the boundaries of the technology of the day.

All the early Lotus cars, including the Elite, were powered by third party engines. Chapman thought this to be expensive and believed he could build a better engine. In 1962 the Lotus Elan was introduced and the first cars were powered by the new Lotus 1498cc in-line 4 cylinder engine that developed 100bhp. Engine capacity was soon increased to 1557cc with an increase in power to 105 bhp.

Chapman was a brilliant engineer but he was also an astute businessman. When approached by Ford to supply his engines to their cars to homologate them for racing Chapman saw a great opportunity. The rest they say is history and the Cortina Lotus (as Ford preferred to refer to it!) was born. Ford supplied the body shells and were ultimately responsible for marketing and selling the cars. Lotus supplied all the mechanicals including the redesigned suspension and were responsible for all of the cosmetics. The early cars featured aluminium body panels, however, by 1964 these were soon replaced with all steel panels. The majority of the cars were finished in ermine white with a green stripe on each side.

The Lotus Cortina received rave reviews in period and the car was an outstanding success, both as a road car and on the track. Circa 3,000 Lotus Cortina MkI’s were built from 1963 to 1966.

In 1966 Ford introduced the Cortina Lotus Mk2 with a new look body style and an improved more powerful Lotus Twin Cam engine. To reduce costs and improve build quality Ford decided to build the Mk2 in house. The new car continued the success of its predecessor and over 4,000 Mk2’s were built from 1966 through until 1970.

Photos of Lotus Cortinas being driven hard on race tracks the world over cornering on three wheels are common place and such images are etched in motor sport folklore.

Oldtimer Australia is delighted to confirm the sale of this STUNNING 1966 Lotus Cortina Mk1.



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  • Lotus Cortina Mk1
  • 1966
  • Coupe
  • Manual
  • 90,968 miles
  • 1557cc


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