The tale of three Lotuses – Part 3

Lotus 15 - Stephen Griswold

It is not unusual in the world of historic cars to have several encounters with the same car even though years apart. This was the case with my Lotus 15 that I had sold to Peter Kaus for his Rosso Bianco museum. Often all good things come to an end. Such was the case with the Rosso Bianco Museum.

Peter had a run in with the German customs over questions related to the importation of some of the cars in his museum and to resolve this he put his full collection up for sale. Some of the cars were consigned to various dealers and this is how my Lotus 15 came back into my life.

The Lotus 15 was offered to the well-known classic car dealer Coys in London and through their brokerage, my good friend Hugh Taylor became the new owner. I had done a lot of business with Hugh and because of this, the car was sent to me to recommission for the next season. At this time, I had once again gone back into the race preparation business similar to one that I had in Berkeley.

The car had spent its last 18 years sitting in a museum so all that was required was a good check over. Just for insurance, I disassembled the beautiful 2liter Climax FPF twin cam engine to check it out and also to make some modifications that I had designed to improve reliability. This modification strengthened the cylinder block which was prone to cracking mainly due to the quality of the alloy used by Coventry Climax.

The races for these cars were now 2 hours in length so a full season of races put a lot of hours on the car. The cylinder block improvements allowed the engine to rev to 8000 RPM and I was now getting 200 hp instead of the original 160 hp. The car weighed 950 pounds so the performance was exhilarating and made it a contender for overall wins.

After the car was finished Hugh did a few races to acclimatize himself. He wasn’t a particularly fast driver but was a real enthusiast. He loved the Lotus because it was so nimble and required so little effort to drive.

The series of 2-hour sports car races was beginning soon. It was organized by the group called Gentlemen Drivers and the first race was at Donington Park in the Midlands. Hugh offered me a drive with him for the 2hour race. I jumped at the chance.

You may recall that I had sold this car to Peter Kaus without ever racing it. Only Brian Redman had had the pleasure at Riverside all those years ago and he had won overall against Chris Cord in my old Maserati Birdcage.



Hugh and I shared the practice session and I was quite a bit faster and put the car on the front row with Gary Pearson in a Costin Lister Jaguar. Hugh started the race. It was his car after all and at least he would get a drive even if something happened. We divided up the driver’s stints so that Hugh would start and finish and I would do the rest.

Just as I thought Hugh started to lose places after the start and when he pitted after 45 minutes the car was in about 10th place. I jumped in and tore back out on the circuit. After about 30 minutes I was up to the leaders and a few laps later went into the lead. For the next 30 minutes, I distanced myself from the 2nd place man. At the end of an hour, I dived into the pits to turn the car over to Hugh.

Once again Hugh started to lose time but the lead we had was too much. When Hugh received the checkered flag he had no idea that we had won the race. He had never won anything before. He was so pleased and so surprised. In the end, I finally got to race my old Lotus 15 and match the result that Brian Redman had achieved all those years ago at Riverside.


Keep following the story The tale of three Lotuses – Part 4


Read also:
The tale of three Lotuses – Part 1
The tale of three Lotuses – Part 2