*This is a translation done by a machine.
It was the last front-engine racing car built by Lotus and the first production fiberglass-bodied model (excluding the 11 works cars). It was also highly aerodynamic and weighed a mere 400 kilograms. Since this is such a prestigious title for a racing car of a prestigious brand, it seems like a model that should be more famous along with the 11 and 19....
It was probably because there was nothing to tell about its racing history. The number of cars produced in 1959 was only 23, and the Lotus 17 is known even among Lotus fans as an extremely maniacal model.
The concept, however, was Lotus, or rather, Chapman-like. Colin Chapman, the founder and genius engineer, immediately started planning a new racing car when his masterpiece Eleven (11) started losing out to the Lola Mark 1. With the Mark 1 as his rival, he attempted to design a lighter, smaller, and more aerodynamic car. And so it was 17 that was created.
Len Terry designed the car based on Chapman's idea. However, there was a problem with the suspension format that Chapman insisted on. The front suspension was a modified MacPherson strut and the rear was the famous Chapman strut, a combination that proved useless in actual racing. Terry himself seems to have pointed out the problem from the design stage, which leads to the severing of relations with Chapman, who is obsessed with his own ideas.
After quitting Lotus, Terry was asked by a customer to modify the 17, converting the front to double wishbones and the rear to de Dion. It is said that Lotus later made similar modifications to all the cars they delivered.
The engine is a Coventry Climax. The displacement could be selected from four types, ranging from 750 cc to 1.5 liters, depending on the racing category of the destination.
|Jun Nishikawa's Highlights!|
#661, a very rare Lotus 17. It is probably the only one of its kind in Japan. According to records, it was imported to Japan around 2001, and the current owner, the second owner in Japan, has participated in many famous classic car events in Japan, including La Festa Mille Miglia (2009-13).
The history of the car shows that it was delivered to its first owner in May 1959. From there to 1975, the history of the car is unknown, but from 1975 to 1980, it was owned by Ryan Engemann, a famous female racer. She had already retired from active racing when she purchased the car, but due to her strong passion for Lotus and Chapman, she bought it for her retirement hobby=historic racing participation.
After that, the car was sold to a number of historic car racers and collectors (three owners, one of whom owned it twice) before arriving in Japan. Although we do not go into details here, the history of the car after Engemann is clear from the numerous testimonies and documents collected by the current owner, and it seems that several major restorations took place during that time.
The interesting thing about this individual, however, is that it has undergone some rather interesting modifications apart from that ownership history. It is the rear suspension. As mentioned above, one of the shortcomings of the Lotus 17 was the front and rear suspension system. Even the individual that Lotus itself later delivered was modified. Therefore, it is correct that the suspension form is different from the original, but the rear of this car has been further modified in a riddle.
Upon closer inspection, it closely resembles the Lotus formula cars of the 50s, especially those of the Juniors (one could say that it is similar to the F1 in form). This improvement must have been made by the first owner, or very early on in a period of unknown ownership, since it is likely that this specification was in place during Engemann's time. Because any major alteration to the extent of changing the suspension form is a very race-minded idea, and it is reasonable to assume that it was carried out at a time when the Lotus 17 was still considered active. Also, Engemann herself is recorded as saying that she enjoyed the car "very much," so it is assumed that the suspension specifications had been improved to their current state by the time the car came into her possession, and that it was a complete car.
In any case, it has been "upgraded" to a rarer version of the improved Lotus 17, and is now a performance car suitable for circuit driving. The engine is a 1.1 liter Coventry Climax. It has been serviced at a well-known store in Sagamihara.
Even though it has a license plate number, it is still a pure racing car. It will require some skill and know-how to drive it. But that is exactly what makes it so much fun, something that modern cars do not have. This is a car that should be driven by anyone who wants to try their hand at driving Lotus' last FR racer.
Because it is a racing car, it is the opposite of shiny concours condition. It is hoped that someone who enjoys the atmosphere of the era and circuit driving will take over the car. Of course, it would be interesting to fully restore it at a cost. If you do so, please investigate the 15 years of blank space. I have a feeling that there might be an interesting story hidden in it. The name of the initial owner, Mr. Prior, is also very meaningful. By the way, Mr. Engemann used to live in Belgium, but now he seems to be spending the rest of his life in his birthplace, Algarve, Spain (the famous circuit is close by!).
Originally written by Jun Nishikawa
Photo by Yoshitada Moro
Published on August 2023
|Year of Purchase||Aug 2001|