The other day was “Mustang Day” and somehow we forgot about that or did not get the invitation or maybe we just didn’t care. Either way, it passed us by. It was a celebration of the 55th anniversary of the introduction of the Ford Mustang at the New York International Auto Show and Ford fans rejoiced. Well, there was another Ford that was part of the 1964 performance boom that does not get near enough recognition here in the good ol’ USA. Sure, it was primarily a British car but you can find them here in the ‘States if you have enough scratch and enough gumption to look. Yes, we’re talking about the the awesome little Lotus Cortina.
When Ford wanted to take the mundane and workaday Cortina to new performance heights they called a guy they had already locked themselves in with on the rear engine Indy Car project, Colin Chapman. Chapman took on the challenge and did it concurrently while developing the Lotus Elan.
The cars were much different than a stock Cortina and it was not just because of the twin cam engine that went into the Lotus version. The suspension was completely changed front and rear and we don’t just mean by swapping parts, we mean engineering-wise. These things were leaf sprung before Chapman got them and there were coil springs back there. There were forged control arms, lightweight castings for the differential housing, and the list goes on and on.
What does this have to do with anything regarding the video below? You’ll see two of Chapman’s creations competing at the 12 Hours of Sebring circa 1964. The drivers are Jimmy Clark and Dan Gurney and this whole thing is awesome. They ran the car in competition in both of the headlining races. These were the littlest, least powerful machines on the track. How did they do? Watch this!