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Ex-Jim Clark Lotus MK1 Cortina
Of all the Lotus Cortina's ever built this Special Equipment model came closest to ideal Colin Chapman had in mind when
Ford first asked him to develop the concept.
The story of how the Ford Motor company hurriedly commissioned Chapman to help them compete with the success of BMC's Mini Cooper S, with the launch of the MK I Lotus Cortina is well known, but Chapman was hugely frustrated when the finished result fell well short of his own expectations.
Time and cost limitations meant compromising much of the privotal development of his concept car, so when Chapman had the opportunity to put all of his original ideas into one car, he did so, and the work was done for none other than racing driver Jim Clark.
Modified when new by Chapman for Jim Clark to use as his everyday road car, 550 VAR was also used for evaluation purposes at Ford Motor Company, following a string of complaints and warranty claims on the earlier cars. Chapman told Bob Dance and his team of works mechanics to build the car that Chapman first wanted. Significantly 550VAR is the only original Lotus Cortina to be fitted with Independent Rear Suspsension having a complete Lotus Elan rear end and all round disc brakes, with much larger brake servo. The half shafts are normal Elan, but the prop is a one piece, non torpedo, essentially a 'one- off'.
550VAR also has the very first Special Equipment engine, LP127, with 40DCOE2 carbs. Although the car was first registered in September 1963 it has the correct March/April engine number, to which only the 40DCOE2 carbs were fitted, and also features the correct non flat rear panel. The car sports a green special equipment cam cover, s/e cams, correct Irvin seat belts and one of Jim Clark's Spring all flat leather steering wheels. Clark was asked to test the car when new, then refused to give it back hence it became his road car,
Following a superb restoration by a world renowned company, and correctly detailed throughout, this unique special equipment development car, has an unrivalled provenance with Jim Clark as its original owner and its subsequent owners include Tom Walkinshaw and Andy Middlehurst.
In more recent years the car has formed part of a significant private collection and provides an unrepeatable opportunity to own a unique Lotus Cortina, with great provenance and in excellent condition