Lotus Cortina MK1 Alan Mann Racing (1965)




This Mk1 Lotus Cortina is non-other than the 1965 European Touring Car Championship winning car driven by Sir John Whitmore himself. Built in February of 1965, KPU392C was carefully prepared by Alan Mann Racing Ltd to full race specification while conforming to Appendix J, Group 2 Regulations. As recorded by a contemporary Autosport article the engine was a BRM-modified phase 2 Lotus twin-cam unit bored out to the maximum permissible 1,595cc and fitted with steel con rods and special pistons. The combustion ratio was raised to 9.8:1 and power was recorded as 150b.h.p at 7,800 r.p.m. Two Weber 40DCOE carburettors were fitted to an alloy inlet manifold and integral cylinder-head. The mechanical fuel pump was replaced by a high pressure unit and the transmission was improved with close ratio gearbox, limited slip differential and carefully balanced two-piece prop shaft. The rear suspension was the revised leaf spring arrangement, which was homologated early in the 1965 season. The back end was softened by removing some of the leaves and relocating the spring attachments which effectively lowered the car. The front was stiffened with shorter stronger coil springs and thicker anti-roll bar. Brakes were Girling discs to the front and drums to the rear, which featured drilled back plates to improve cooling. As with other racing Cortinas the doors, bonnet and boot were all made of Aluminium and the gearbox extension and differential housing were also made of alloy.
In view of the work involved it is perhaps unsurprising that KPU392C was not ready for the first race of the European Championship held at Monza on March 19th. For this event the Alan Mann team used two 1964 model cars with the A-frame suspension set up. While this proved to be a disappointing start to the season, both cars retiring with blown engines, it was the only race that Whitmore failed to finish and the only time he did not achieve a class win, if not an outright victory. Round two was held at Mont Ventoux on the 6th of June and by this time KPU392C was finally ready. Whitmore was no hill climb expert but that didn’t stop him scoring an incredible outright Touring Car win with a time of 12 minutes, 24.6 seconds. A week later the Alan Mann Cortinas were back for the third round, which involved a 6 hour race at the Nurburgring where Whitmore put in the fastest lap in qualifying, which he converted into an outright win in the race itself. At this stage the car was still wearing the traditional white and green colour scheme and was masquerading under the number plate of the old 1964 car, BTW297B, but by the next event at Zolder it would be repainted in red and gold and wear its correct registration. With outright wins in Belgium and at the Innsbruck hill climb in Austria, Whitmore was solidifying his dominance of the Championship. A week later on August 8th he was in action at Karlskoga in Sweden where he achieved yet another class win but narrowly missed out on overall victory, coming second to one of Alan Mann’s Mustangs. Round seven was the only Championship event in the UK, and featured a 500km race at Snetterton. This saw the first real challenge to the Cortinas in the form of the new Alfa GTAs, one of which led the race for a considerable distance until a poor pit stop and hard driving by Whitmore put paid to its chances. The outright win achieved by Sir John at Snetterton was enough to deliver him the championship but that didn’t stop him or the team competing at the last two events of the season; the St Ursanne hill climb in Switzerland and the Zandvoort race in Holland where he achieved two more class wins.
With a 100% class win record and six outright victories, KPU392C was recognised as a special car even in 1965. As such it was tested at Goodwood by Autosport and featured in many contemporary Motorsport press articles. In late 1965 the car sent back to Alan Mann Racing for a re-paint and some minor rectification work ahead of a promotional tour organised by Ford. It is likely that the car lost its original racing limited slip differential at this time to make it more useable on the road. The only other deviation from its final racing form was the fitting of a steel boot lid before its display at the Motor Show but other than that the car remained highly original and importantly preserved its racing engine and gearbox. Purchased by Sir John Whitmore himself in 1967 the car was kept in his private collection for over 30 years with very sparing use. Acquired by JD Classics in 2014 the car now presents wonderfully in its unique preserved condition. This is an unrepeatable opportunity to acquire a time warp example of one of the most famous and successful racing saloon cars of all time.
Please contact us for further information, price on application.
From its inception the Lotus Cortina was designed with Motorsport in mind and appeared in its first race a mere nine months after its introduction in January 1963 when it took 3rd and 4th place at the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting in September that year. While based on a production two door Ford body shell, the Lotus Cortinas were far from standard and featured uprated engines, brakes, suspension and lightened bodies. Other visible exterior changes included the factory colour scheme of white with a green stripe and the fitting of front quarter bumpers and discreet Lotus badges.
Over the course of the next few years many famous drivers including Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Peter Arundell, Jacky Ickx, Jack Sears and Sir John Whitmore would achieve notable success driving the works Cortinas of Team Lotus. In addition to numerous victories in individual races, Jim Clark won the 1964 British Saloon Car Championship outright and Jack Sears achieved a class win the following year.  One of the greatest successes, however, was achieved not in a works car of Team Lotus but in a Cortina of Alan Mann Racing Ltd. In 1965 Sir John Whitmore won the European Touring Car Championship with an incredible eight class victories and six outright wins from nine starts. As Patrick McNally wrote in Autosport in December of 1965: “In the European Touring Car Challenge Sir John Whitmore was outstandingly successful, his Alan Mann Lotus Ford Cortina proving to be both fast and reliable. The popular racing baronet often won his races outright as well as the class, and shattered course and circuit records everywhere he went.”
Alan Mann had started race-car preparation in the 1960s and quickly gained a reputation for building cars that were not only as fast and reliable as McNally reported, but also superbly turned out, especially when wearing the striking red and gold livery of mid-1965 onwards. His success ensured a close relationship with Ford that lasted throughout the 60s and his cars effectively formed the second arm of Ford’s works effort, the other being Team Lotus. The superb achievement of 1965 was not only down to the car and its preparation but also the choice of driver. Sir John Whitmore had started out as a rally driver but moved over to racing and quickly demonstrated his talent by winning the British Touring Car Championship in 1961 driving a Mini. He switched to Fords in 1964 and soon impressed Mann who described him as a quick, consistent and natural driver. Whitmore would continue to race into 1966 for both Alan Mann Racing and Team Lotus driving Cortinas as well as Mustangs and GT40s before retiring at the end of the season.
Competition History
6th June:         
Track:              Mt. Ventoux Hill Climb
Driver:             Sir John Whitmore
Position:          1st in class, 1st overall
13th June:        
Track:              Nurburgring, 1000km
Driver:             Sir John Whitmore
Position:          1st in class, 1st overall
26th June:           
Track:              Zolder
Driver:             Sir John Whitmore
Position:          1st in class, 1st overall
1st August:      
Track:              Olympia, Innsbruck   
Driver:             Sir John Whitmore
Position:          1st in class, 1st overall
8th August:     
Track:              Karlskoga
Driver:             Sir John Whitmore
Position:          1st in class, 2nd overall
15th August:   
Track:              Snetterton, 500km
Driver:             Sir John Whitmore
Position:          1st in class, 1st overall
22nd August:   
Track:              St. Ursanne Hill Climb
Driver:             Sir John Whitmore
Position:          1st in class, 1st overall
29th August:
Track:              Zandvoort
Driver:             Sir John Whitmore
Position:          1st in class, 2nd overall

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  • Year: 1965
  • First registered: 1965


This Lotus has been sold

J D Classics

Essex, United Kingdom

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