The Glasius Lotus Collection: A highlight of Bonhams’ Goodwood Festival sale
As the veteran motoring writer and the Bond Street house’s Motoring Historian, Doug Nye, puts it, “There are few teams that encapsulate the romance of the ‘little guys beating the big guys’ better than Team Lotus.” So true, and while the early years of Lotus might be represented by a small team of small-engined class-winners, they were, thanks to founder Colin Chapman, incredibly innovative.
As anyone who has shared a circuit with a Lotus will know, it might have a small engine and be puffing a bit mid-way along the straight, but under braking and through the corner it’ll leave just about anything else for dead.
Dutch textile magnate Olav Glasius became fascinated by the English marque in its famous green and yellow livery in 1963, watching Jim Clark win the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort that year in a Lotus 25. Business success gave him the means to go racing and build up a world-renowned collection of Lotuses.
He’s now selling them “so that others can enjoy these wonderful machines”.
Here’s a small selection of the cars on offer later this month:
This is the opening lot in the Glasius Collection, and the oldest. Although the first car from the pen of the brilliant Chapman was first road-registered on July 8, 1952, the Mk VI was produced in kit form for enthusiastic amateur racers for another couple of years. The engine choice was open, and this particular example carries an 1100cc, SOHC Coventry Climax four-cylinder. Classic Lotus simplicity at its most basic.
Just a year or so on from the boxy Mk VI and the work of De Havilland Aircraft aerodynamicist Frank Costin is becoming evident. The super-lightweight (the completed chassis/body unit for this model weighed less than a set of five wheels and tyres…) Mk VIIIs are rare – and attractive in the all-white finish of the famous ex-Tip Cunane car you see here.
This is one of the two-car Team Lotus entries at the famous 24 Hours race at La Sarthe in June 1956. Its ‘Le Mans’ designation signified a top-of-the-range club racing Lotus Eleven, and this car carries the very special widened chassis and bodywork (by 8in) necessary to meet the special regulations insisted upon by the ACO. Driven by Cliff Allison/Keith Hall, it, like its sister car, retired.
It’s almost unbelievable to think that only three years before this car was built, Mike Hawthorn was winning the World Championship in a large, shark-like, front-engined Ferrari. The Formula Junior cars from Lotus were the stepping stone for many future F1 drivers in the 1960s, Team Lotus entering a works Type 22 for Peter Arundell, who cleaned up in 1962, winning 18 times in 25 starts.
This is fun. It’s a replica of the sort of van Lotus Cars was running in the 60s, complete with a big straight-six from a Zephyr 6, and similar to the actual vehicle used by the British team for long-distance, continental towing in period. It was built up on Glasius’s instructions to act as a tender for cars entered in the Goodwood Revival.
Did we say ‘small-engined’, earlier? Not all Lotus racing cars carried four-pots, and it was inevitable that the exceptional customer racing car, the Type 19, should find itself in the USA with a V8 in the back. While other North American racers shoehorned 4.7-litre V8s into Lotus 19s, this very original car was raced in period by Californian Rod Carveth. It’s powered by a 3.5-litre, 'small-block' Buick V8 engine, mated to a Hewland gearbox.
Isn’t this beautiful? For those that still enjoy re-runs of The Avengers, Emma Peel (played by the actress Diana Rigg) in her S2 and S3 Elan roadsters is as evocative an image of Britain in the Swinging Sixties as Carnaby St, vintage Hussar jackets and The Pound in Your Pocket. Olav Glasius is only this left-hand drive car’s second owner, and he commissioned a total restoration in 2004.
Another left-hand drive Lotus, Olav Glasius purchased this car new, direct from Louwman's, the contemporary Dutch Lotus importer. Since then, it has covered just 24,160km, making it one of the most original one-owner Esprits in the world.