Lotus Mk I recreation ready for 75 Years of Lotus parade at Goodwood Revival
Colin and Hazel Chapman constructed their first car together in 1948, which became the Lotus Mark I. Seventy-five years later their son, Clive, has realised a faithful recreation of the car that became the foundation of the Lotus marque. Fresh from trials on the Lotus test track at Hethel, Hazel and Colin’s daughter Jane, grand-daughter Alice and great grand-daughter Martha were all set to pilot the Mk I on its first public outing as part of the 75 years of Lotus Parade at the Goodwood Revival.
The Lotus Mk I was a ‘special’, based on an Austin 7 that displayed many signs of Colin Chapman’s innovative engineering skills:
- Lightweight and stiff super-structure of aluminium clad plywood
- Driver and passenger relocated aft for better weight distribution
- Ballast restricted by rules, but spare wheels unlimited, hence two spare wheels. (Very Chapman.)
- Cut down windscreen to reduce drag and weight
- Rear leaf-springs flattened for improved handling
- Rear half shafts swapped side-to-side and inverted and front spring flattened for optimum ride height
- Striking brass radiator cowling for making the right impression
The Mk I was built by Hazel & Colin for off-road Trials competitions, which were especially popular post-war. (The workshop was a lock-up garage behind Hazel’s parents’ house; amazingly it survives today.) After two years of successful competition the car was sold to a trialist in the North of England but was sadly lost without trace, despite several concerted efforts to find it.
Clive Chapman commented "I am impressed by, and grateful for, the enthusiasm of Lotus China for the heritage of the marque and was delighted when they commissioned Classic Team Lotus to make a Mk I showcar for display in China. It proved to be a fascinating project and fired me up to construct a running recreation for the Classic Team Lotus Collection at Hethel. When Goodwood announced Lotus as the featured marque of the Revival it gave us the impetus of a deadline. Together with my skillful colleagues at Classic Team Lotus it has been a real pleasure to discover how my parents went about creating their first car."
The Classic Team Lotus fabrication department is especially strong and the extraordinary challenge was taken on with relish. Undoubtedly Steve Jest, Matt Sutton and Harvey Boore have become the World Experts on the construction of the Lotus Mk I, together with support from their colleagues, including Heritage Manager William Taylor, Raceshop Manager Lewis Cullington and paint wizard Wayne Riches.