Lotus 23B Sports Racer

Designed by Lotus founder Colin Chapman as a small-bore sports racer with sleek fiberglass bodywork penned by Frank Costin, the Lotus 23 was initially powered by a variety of engines ranging from 750 cc to 1,300 cc. Well suited to a wide range of racing classes, the 23 quickly became known as a "giant killer" capable of embarrassing many far more powerful competitors. Its May 1962 debut at the Nürburgring was stunning; after the first lap, Jim Clark opened up a 27-second lead over the Porsche piloted by Dan Gurney, and Clark would surely have won had he not retired from the race after being overcome by exhaust fumes from a broken exhaust header.

A questionable disqualification of the 23 at Le Mans prompted the famous refusal uttered by Chapman to never again enter the event. However, this setback did not affect the popularity and amazing victory tally of the 23. Some 130 to 131 were eventually produced in standard 23, 23B and 23C form, and the cars continue to be highly successful in vintage racing today.

Equipped with a strengthened frame to handle the larger and ever-more powerful twin-cam Lotus-Ford engines of the era, this Lotus 23B is a wonderfully restored and properly sorted example of the breed. It was sold new to a Mr. W. Bradshaw in November 1962, and it is reported to have been raced in UK and European events into the early 1980s. It was then imported to the United States, and in 1986, Mike Rahal, the noted SCCA racing driver and father of Indianapolis 500 champion Bobby Rahal, acquired the Lotus from Brumos Racing and regularly entered the car into vintage racing events.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2012 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

187 bhp, 1,600 cc DOHC inline four-cylinder engine, dual twin-choke Weber DCOE carburetors, Hewland Mark IV five-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel independent coil-spring suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Ned Jackson

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