F1 book review: “Lotus – The competition cars” (Anthony Pritchard)

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Colin Chapman’s death in 1982 was an untimely shock. But if he were still wielding his brutal, uncompromising design genius in modern times, would the restrictive regulations completely neuter his capacity for thinking the unthinkable?

It’s a question you can’t help but think as you flick through the 264 pages of this exhaustive history of Lotus cars. Read on for our review.

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Gas turbine power, four wheel drive, twin chassis – and those were just the ideas that didn’t work.

This book explains the gestation of exceptional machines like the 49 and the 78. And, after Peter Warr took the helm in ’82, the teams’ depressing slide into obscurity and, finally, collapse.

This is an excellent, lavishly illustrated book, and a joy for technophiles.

Chapman’s Lotus straddled disciplines beyond Formula One into sports cars and American racing. He conquered the Indianapolis 500 in 1965 with Jim Clark and the asymmetrical 38. He built cars for the Tasman series and Formula Three.

I was very pleased that what could have been a staid, technical tome is packed with insightful interviews and illuminating photographs.

The book is more than just a retrospective of Lotus cars. It charts the evolution of Formula One and shows how a team that were invariably at the cutting edge of the sport responded to the various changes in regulations.

I had little appreciation for the world of Lotus cars beyond Formula One before turning to Pritchard’s excellent book. Anyone in the same position should stick this near the top of their reading list.

Published by Haynes

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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