Jim Clark’s Lotus Elan, Type 26 997 NUR 1962 – Registered to Jim Clark on 24 August 1962
Jim Clark used ‘997 NUR’ for the best part of 1962-63 clocking up about 15,000 miles as part of the development process for the Type 26. Jim regularly commuted from the old Lotus factory in Cheshunt to his home in Duns in the Scottish Borders, a journey that was recently retraced with the Elan for an article that will feature in the July edition of Classic & Sports Car magazine.
Ownership of the Elan passed then to Ian Scott-Watson, a fellow countryman who had launched Jim Clark on his racing career. Ian loaned the car to Andrew Cowan, world-famous in rally circles, for a very wet inaugural race at Ingliston where he finished a close second in a field of race-prepared Elans. The car was subsequently used for the Lotus 1965 calendar with a kilted Clark sitting on the bonnet (poster).
Because it was the oldest surviving Elan, 997 NUR was eventually sold back to Lotus and ‘done up’ for Gloria Dollar, secretary then to the English Grand Prix motorcycle racer and Formula 1 driver, John Surtees. Gloria had intended to use the Elan for racing but later changed her mind. It is likely that it was sold on for racing before ending up in a scrapyard at Mallory Park.
The Elan was subsequently acquired by Michael Schryver who undertook a sympathetic restoration of the car. Initially it was a difficult task identifying the importance of the Elan as it was in a very sorry state. Vague recognition of the registration number, however, gave a clue as to its history. Then a long, painstaking restoration process was documented and photographed in depth. The result is a fitting testament to the car’s eminent importance within the motor racing worlds of both Lotus and Jim Clark.
Currently owned by racing driver and Scot, Gregor Fisken, and maintained by Brian Buckland, the Elan was recently displayed at the ‘Jim Clark 50th Year Anniversary’ weekend organised by The Jim Clark Trust. It was also present at a commemoration service in tribute to Jim Clark at Loretto School in Musselburgh.
Car displayed courtesy of Club member Gregor Fisken from Monday 30 April to Monday 7 May 2018.
Team Lotus Type 25 1962
The Lotus Type 25 debuted at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on 20th May 1962.
It boasted a revolutionary chassis designed by Colin Chapman that started the move away from tubular space frame cars to the monocoques seen in all current racing formulas. The twin boom, semi-monocoque chassis structure has its roots in the box -style backbone chassis design of the Lotus Elan road car.
The formative idea was to stretch out the sides of the centre box section sufficiently that a driver might fit in-between. Two parallel D-shaped booms, extending from front to rear, are joined together by a bottom skin and various bulkheads. This relatively simple to manufacture chassis was light and provided increased torsional stiffness as well as a lower centre of gravity in comparison to the previous space frame approach. Furthermore, it realised a 17% reduction in frontal area at a time when drag reduction was a key goal. The booms lent themselves, as housings for rubber aerospace specification fuel ‘bag’ tanks, were much safer than the current aluminium baffled items. A 1.5 Litre Coventry Climax V8 engine was installed between the booms at the car’s rear.
Team Lotus constructed nine monocoques to this design between 1962 and 1964.
The Type 25 proved to be virtually unbeatable with the fabulous triumvirate of the brilliant Jim Clark, Team Lotus, and Coventry Climax. Engine failure in the last race, however, lost the 1962 Championship. But 10 finishes with seven wins secured the 1963 Championship with maximum points (as only the best six results were counted). In order to minimise drag, Jimmy Clark adopted an extremely reclined driving position; in fact the chassis was built around his physical dimensions — such was Colin Chapman’s commitment to the driver he recognised as being the greatest of them all.
Car displayed courtesy of Nick Fennell from Monday 30 April to Monday 7 May 2018.