1963 Lotus Cortina MK I


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Some of the most easily recognised motorsport pictures are of Jim Clark and Sir John Whitmore cornering on three wheels in early Lotus Cortinas, or drifting them, revelling in the cars' composure and handling predictability. It may have been based on the entry-level Cortina, but with more power, much-improved suspension and better brakes, the Lotus Cortina is one classic you can really take by the scruff of the neck and have enormous fun with.


The Lotus Cortina came into being because of Ford's decision to step up their motorsport involvement in the early 1960s. Ford's Walter Hayes spoke to Colin Chapman, asking him to come up with a competitive saloon, using the Cortina as a base, that could be produced in sufficient numbers to satisfy the homologation requirements, and with which the Blue Oval could beat all comers. The solution was to take Ford's bullet-proof 1500 Kent engine and fit a twin-cam cylinder head, pop it into a stiffened Cortina shell, sort out the suspension and brakes and paint a green stripe down the side. The cars would be built by Lotus at its plant in Cheshunt, and marketed as the Lotus Cortina.


Sure enough, these cars went on to dominate saloon car racing and rallying, both here and abroad in the hands of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Sir John Whitmore, Jack Sears, Vic Elford and Roger Clark all notching up one victory after another.


We are informed by the vendor that 268 UNN is a matching numbers car originally supplied and registered in Nottinghamshire and is a very early example of the model. Although restored a while ago, this cars gleaming white paintwork is smooth and blemish free, shut lines are spot on with doors that open cleanly and close with a smart snap and the overall stance of the car looks exactly right. Likewise the interior looks excellent and the all-round visibility and general lightness in the cabin helped by large windows and thin pillars make this a good place to be.

The rorty four-cylinder delivers the kind of sound you want from a British sporting car, and like every good Lotus Cortina Mk1 it's the precise steering, the ‘A' frame rear suspension and communicative chassis that make driving this car a rich and rewarding experience. 268 UNN ticks all the right boxes, with a current speedometer reading of 2,740 and a fresh MoT certificate. These cars have been sought after for years and are still in demand and this is a definite contender for anyone looking to purchase a superbly restored and well maintained example that's on the button and ready to go.