Lotus 38: The Special Relationship


Our title the Special Relationship is both a play on words but also expresses the serious connectivity, partnership /collaboration and teamwork/spirit that enabled Team Lotus to win Indianapolis in 1965.

The commercial importance is almost immeasurable. The significance of Indianapolis to Lotus and Chapman cannot be overestimated.

It is possibly best summarized in bullet. It provided:-

  • Enhanced reputation
  • Reputation linked to publicity and sales both racing road cars
  • Income –quite considerable see details of purse below
  • Collaboration with Ford [and by achievement reaching out to other manufacturers]
  • The possibility of consultancy
  • Advertising and Exposure to the very important American market not least California
  • It gave great support to Lotus dealers in the USA
  • It provided potential sponsors with credibility of the marque ,delivery and success with a very fashionable for the time British image
  • It bridged and reached out on a cultural level and reinforced the image of Britain in the US during the 1960’s [ nb importance of British pop music , fashion and TV

Ford committed to the total performance programme in the early 1960’s.This was major corporate decision of one of the world’s greatest car makers. Chapman had been using Ford engines from early on in his manufacture of cars. This developed commercially with the Elan engine and the Ford Lotus Cortina of 1962.

It’s with this context in mind we can approach the importance of entry and winning at Indianapolis.

Subscribers might like to see related A&R articles:-

  • Lotus Indianapolis cars
  • Lotus and Can-Am

Ford’s Total Performance

Editors have paraphrased from the net etc.:-

“Total Performance was far more than just a slogan or an advertising spiel. It was a universal commitment-from president Henry Ford II down-that the company would develop the cars, engines, and/or teams it took to win in the world’s most significant racing series. Lee Iacocca, Carroll Shelby, Bill Gay, Colin Chapman, Keith Duckworth and Mike Costin, Don Frey, and hundreds more executed a masterful assault on Indy, NASCAR, Formula 1, Trans-Am, endurance racing, the quarter mile, and others. They were successful (and in several cases, dominating) in all of them.

This story was written in race results for nearly a decade. Here are the archival photographs-iconic and seldom seen-that connect names, faces, and legendary race cars to those all-conquering statistics.


Ford need to do something and it was the guiding hand of Lee Iacocca that would transform the company. He was the first manager to propose an all-encompassing marketing campaigned centered around high-performance. Initially it was a high level proposal; there were no granular details or specific programs. As opportunities arouse they were evaluated and if it fit with the company’s strategy the program was added to the Total Performance mix. In June of 1962 Ford released a six-paragraph statement announcing Ford’s withdrawal from the 1957 AMA Safety Agreement. It was signed by Henry Ford II. It was at this point that Ford went all in on the Total Performance program.

Henry Ford II

Lee Iacocca – 1964 Indianapolis 500

Total Performance was a marketing program and corporate funding would be subject to the marketing groups strategic planning. The company’s motto became “Total Performance” and was implemented as engineering excellence demonstrated in the heat of competition. Total Performance included programs that directly promoted the production cars and other initiatives that built the brand image. Through the life of Total Performance careers would be built, legends created and lives lost.

Neither before nor after has any manufacture commitments its reputation to as aggressive competition program as Ford did. By the end of the Total Performance program Ford powered cars had won the World Manufactures Championship, the Indianapolis 500 and USAC Championship, international Formula I, II and Formula III series, Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-Am series. Ford also had a significant impact on international Rallying, drag racing and the NASCAR racing series.

Without updated products any marketing program is heading for failure. With Iacocca’s guidance and engineering input from people like Don Frey, Ford revised its product line up. The Falcon lead the way to the Mustang and an entire new market segment, the Pony Car, was born. When the 427ci V8 was introduced it was offered in the Galaxie and the Fairlane. Ultimately there would be a program or multiple programs for each of the product lines and advertising campaigns to promote the success.

Len Terry

The late Len Terry was probably not given all the credit he deserved for the Indianapolis programme. His contribution was structured and integrated, rather holistic and included the car design and race logistics.

From wiki:-

“He was working on a freelance basis (including for Lotus) when Colin Chapman asked him to return full-time to design a car to compete in the Indianapolis 500. He produced the rear-engined Lotus 29 which, driven by Jim Clark, finished a close second at the 1963 Indianapolis 500 and the Lotus 34 for 1964 which, although starting from pole-position only completed 47 laps (out of 200) due to tyre and suspension problems. Terry later claimed that differences with Chapman meant the car had not been fully developed.[3] He was also involved in the design of the Lotus 33 F1 car with which Clark won the 1965 Drivers’ World Championship.[5]

For the 1965 Indianapolis 500, Terry was given full control over the design of the Lotus 38, and the car finished first that year, and second in 1966, each time with Clark driving. However, Terry left Lotus before the 1965 race, having already been recruited by Dan Gurney‘s AAR team to design a Formula One car.[3] This led to the EagleWeslake V12, which has been considered one of the most aesthetic Formula One designs.

Terry has stated with regard to the design methodology for the Indianapolis cars he employed the following including design of the first Lotus Indianapolis car [29   ]:-

  • Mixture of experience
  • Design know how
  • Common sense
  • Suck it and see

For example the cars right hand suspension links were six inches longer than those on the left.

The Design/Specification

Len Terry commented:-

“the most notable thing about the Lotus 38 was that it was a true monocoque, the cockpit being cigar tube ……the 38’s metalwork wrapped right over the drivers knees and was thus 50% stiffer but there were lots of small details that made the difference…….I arranged the fuel tanks –there were three of them –so that they drained from the right side first, thus keeping as much weight as possible on the inboard side for as long as possible

Taylor adds;-

The chassis was considerably stiffer than any previous Lotus single seater but it still only weighed 130lb.the chassis contained a rear-mounted fuel reservouir fed by three separate tank bays ,two length ones each side and one behind the seat this allowed fuel capacity to increase by 40% with no expansion in terms of overall width or height

The shape of the 38 was much smoother than the 1963 64 cars ……….the length increased by 6inches in a longer nose to enhance air penetration. The track was slightly wider at 60 inches. Underneath the running gear remained much as before with the exception of two inch larger ventilated disc brakes and modified suspension geometry “

Ford Engine

The Ford engine was an extremely important ingredient of the Indianapolis car both from the sponsorship aspect but also performance to achieve parity with other established brand leaders.


Figure 2.”The engine that won Indy” the modified Ford Fairlane V8

Terry states:-

“The Ford engine was strong, perhaps a little over –valved or its capacity but more than powerful enough to do the job”


“the latest incarnation of the fuel injected Ford V8 engine  developed 500 bhp but the difference was that it fueled by alcohol rather than pump fuel ………alcohol engines run cooler than those on petrol ,a smaller radiator could be fitted ……….Lotus used Firestone tyres”


Figure 3.Advertisment and cutaway of the basic Ford Fairlane engine

Ford Fairlane Engine

The editors have seen a variety of specifications for the Ford Fairlane engine. In an article accompanying the above illustration the specification was outlined as:-

  • V8 water cooled
  • Cast iron block and heads
  • Single 4 barrel  carburetor
  • 4,262 cc
  • 260 bhp at 5,800 rpm
  • 269lbs/ft. torque at 4,500 rpm

Posthumus [Classic Racing Cars] quotes in relation to Lotus application:-

“The engine which they supplied was a 4.2 litre version of their Fairlane pushrod overhead valve 90 degree V8 series production unit, giving 375 bhp at 7200 rpm on four Weber twin choke carburetors

  • Ford US 90 degree V8
  • Bore and stroke 96.5×72.8 mm
  • Capacity 4261 cc
  • Four overhead  camshafts operating 4 valves per cylinder ;Hilborn –Travers fuel injection electronic ignition
  • Maximum power 500bhp at 8000 rpm


Figure 4.Editors sketch of type 38 with representational cross section of Ford V8 engine. Note sponsor decals left of drawing but details provided below.

Technical Specification from Taylor

Model Type 38 Indianapolis car
Year 1965
Volume 10
Engine Ford Quad cam,V8
C.C. 4,198 cc
Carburation Hilborn Ford mechanical injection
Power Output 500 bhp at 8,800 rpm
Transmission ZF 2DS20 2 speed manual
Chassis Aluminium alloy monocoque,steel sub frames
Body Body chassis unit separate GRP nose,tail,engine cover
Front Suspension Offset to left top rocker arm, double wishb’inboard csd’
Rear Suspension Offset Reverse lower wb’ top link ,twin radius rods, csd’,anti-roll bar
Brakes F/R outboard ventilated 12 in.Girling disc
Wheels F/R 15 x 8.5 or 16 x 9.5 in Lotus cast magnesium
Tyres F/R 9.20 x 15/12.00×15 or 16
Length 156 in 3962.5mm
Width 73 in 1854mm
Height 31 in 787.5mm
Wheelbase 96 in 2438mm
Track 60/60 in 1524mm
Weight 1350 lb 1350 [Nye] 567 kg]

Note Posthumus suggests a dry weight of 1250 lb. [Classic Racing Cars]



Figure 5.Editors sketch working drawing type 38.


The editors consider the aesthetic of the Type 38 more significant than credited.

It bore the national race colour scheme but this was done in subtle way and yet accentuated. The manner sponsor details were incorporated tasteful.

Despite all the glamour and razzmatazz of Indianapolis the Lotus Type 38 was rather understated yet succeeded in being distinctive.

The editors are not sure who was responsible for the detailing but the bold yellow exhaust prominent above the engine and extending back over the body nicely colour coded with the total scheme. Equally the bright chrome work was just sufficient to lend some sparkle.

The editor did not possess the drafting skill to incorporate the sponsors logo’s on the drawing but we consider these sufficiently important to record them below.


Figure 6.Peter Hutton-Illustration of the Lotus 38- see details /availability from Historic Team Lotus memorabilia

Sponsors and Decals

These are the main sponsors the editors have been able to detect:

  • Enco
  • Sun
  • Perfect Circle
  • Autolite [see advertisement above]
  • Wynn’s
  • Bear
  • VHT
  • Premier
  • Sunnen
  • Monroe

Posthumus suggest that in addition:-

  • Hilborn-Travers fuel injection
  • Halibrand cast magnesium wheels
  • Firestone tyres of course

Subscribers who are also keen model makers might like to see the following website as the supplier has a set of Lotus Type 38 decals.



Figure 7.Enco one of the sponsors of the Lotus 38

Jim Clark

Jim Clark is particularly identified with Lotus. He enjoyed a special relationship with Colin Chapman. He is thought to be amongst the greatest FI racing drivers of all time.

He was modest, quiet, unassuming but possessing natural talent and reserves of determination and in his own way a creativity as expressed through his driving ability and reading of a race. Here we need not expand .Subscribers are directed to our other relevant pieces about his life and driving for Lotus.

Subscribers are directed to an excellent website:-


Clark almost did not race at Indianapolis because his mother had reservations about safety. Indianapolis was not the usual track conditions experienced in Europe neither the style of racing. The combined achievement of all the parties and team work are all the more remarkable as a result.

We include a breakdown of Clark’s record at Indianapolis and it forms a considerable achievement and legacy.


Figure 8.Poster found on the net which provides a totality of expression capturing the links around Jim Clark

From wiki

“James Clark, Jr OBE (4 March 1936 – 7 April 1968), known as Jim Clark, was a British Formula One racing driver from Scotland, who won two World Championships, in 1963 and 1965.

Clark was a versatile driver who competed in sports cars, touring cars and in the Indianapolis 500, which he won in 1965. He was particularly associated with the Lotus marque.”

Indy 500 results

Year[21] Car
Start Qual.
Finish Laps
1963 92 5 149.750 7 2 200 28 Running LotusFord 29/3
1964 6 1 158.828 1 24 47 14 Suspension LotusFord 34/3
1965 82 2 160.729 2 1 200 190 Running LotusFord 38/1
1966 19 2 164.114 2 2 200 66 Running LotusFord 38/4
1967 31 16 163.213 23 31 35 0 Piston LotusFord 38/7
Totals 682 298
Starts 5
Poles 1
Front Row 3
Wins 1
Top 5 3
Top 10 3
Retired 2
  • Clark’s starting positions from 1964, 1965, and 1966 represent the best 3-race starting streak of the 1960s.
  • Clark’s 1965 win was the first win for a rear-engined car at the Indianapolis 500. No front-engined car has won the race since.

Strategy and Pit work

Len Terry:-

“I even designed the fueling system, adopting the swirl technique so that we could get more fuel in more quickly, Ford’s top NASCAR crew the Wood brothers did our pitstop.They were fantastic at wheel changing, made a big difference, but I like to think that our refueling rig made just as big a contribution, our pistops were certainly a lot faster than those of the opposition”


This is extremely important and subscribers will be able to better understand motives budgets and commitments when seen against the rewards. To which we might add those of advertising and reputational value added to the brand.

Despite the distance, costs and logistics Chapman and Lotus campaigned Indianapolis throughout the mid 1960’s. The editors believe this is the greatest indication of the totality of the rewards and a means to penetrate the American sports car market by gaining success at its greatest race.


1965 Indianapolis 500

FP SP Car Driver Car Name
Running or Reason Out
1 2 82 Clark, Jim Lotus powered by Ford
200 $166,621 160.729
2 5 98 Jones, Parnelli Agajanian/Hurst
200 $64,661 158.625
3 4 12 Andretti, Mario(R) Dean Van Lines/Auto Technics
200 $42,551 158.849
4 7 74 Miller, Al (Krulac) Jerry Alderman Ford-Lotus
200 $26,641 157.805
5 14 76 Johncock, Gordon(R) Weinberger Homes/Wilseck
200 $21,981 155.012
6 15 81 Rupp, Mick(R) G.C. Murphy/Pete Salemi
198 $18,971 154.839
7 22 83 Johns, Bobby(R) Lotus powered by Ford
197 $16,886 155.481
8 18 4 Branson, Don Wynn’s/Leader Cards
197 $16,376 155.501
9 32 45 Unser, Al(R) Sheraton-Thompson/Ansted
196 $14,416 154.440
10 28 23 Johnson, Eddie H. Allen Chapman
195 $14,656 153.998
11 9 7 Ruby, Lloyd Dupont Golden 7/McManus
Blown Engine
184 $11,846 157.246
12 12 16 Sutton, Len Bryant/Robbins & Vollstedt
177 $11,586 156.121
13 29 14 Boyd, Johnny George Bryant Racing
140 $11,976 155.172
14 21 53 Hansgen, Walt MG-Liquid Suspension/Qvale
117 $10,566 155.662
15 1 1 Foyt Jr., A.J. Sheraton-Thompson/Ansted
115 $20,517 161.233
16 24 5 Tingelstad, Bud American Red Ball/Hopkins
Crash 3
115 $9,569 154.672
17 6 66 Foster, Billy(R) Jim Robbins & Vollstedt
Water manifold
85 $9,936 158.416
18 19 18 Knepper, Arnie(R) Konstant Hot/Vatis
80 $10,326 154.513
19 8 9 Unser, Bobby STP Gas Treatment
Oil Fitting
69 $9,216 157.467
20 13 52 McElreath, Jim Zink-Urschel Trackburner
Rear End Gears
66 $8,656 155.878
21 16 94 Snider, George(R) Gerhardt Offy
Rear End Gears
64 $8,696 154.825
22 25 65 Duman, Ronnie Travelon Trailer/Ruiz
Rear End Gears
62 $8,786 154.533
23 31 41 Gregory, Masten(R) George Bryant Racing
Oil Pressure
59 $9,076 154.540
24 10 54 Veith, Bob MG-Liquid Suspension/Qvale
58 $8,266 156.427
25 26 88 Stevenson, Chuck Vita Fresh OJ/Van Liew
50 $8,306 154.275
26 3 17 Gurney, Dan Yamaha/All American Racers
Timing Gears
42 $9,596 158.898
27 17 48 Grant, Jerry(R) Bardahl MG/Kjell Qvale
30 $7,786 154.606
28 30 19 Rodee, Chuck Wally Weir’s Mobilgas
Rear End Gears
28 $8,726 154.546
29 27 29 Leonard, Joe(R) All American Racers
Oil Leak
27 $7,816 154.268
30 23 25 McCluskey, Roger All American Racers
18 $8,106 155.186
31 11 24 Rutherford, Johnny Racing Associates
Rear End Gears
15 $7,596 156.291
32 33 47 Cheesbourg, Bill WIFE GoodGuy/Lane-Fulbright
14 $7,836 153.774
33 23 59 Hurtubise, Jim STP-Tombstone Life/Chemical
1 $8,626 156.863
Total Purse: $628,399 Field Average: 156.058
Cars Entered: 79 Cars Started: 33
Number Rookies: 11 Former Winners: 2

Customer Cars/retail price

Taylor suggests 10 cars were built and that 2 were sold to private customers for $22,500 each.

These numbers and figures are interesting:-

  1. They can be used to “guestimate” development cost v winnings
  2. The success of the cars would generate demand [spiral we have discussed previously]
  3. Additional cars on the track would provide further publicity
  4. Profit on each car would contribute to positive overall budget

Learning Opportunities

Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.

These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.

In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-

  • Compare and Contrast American and European motor racing in 1960’s
  • Why was the V8 engine so significant to American motor industry
  • Quantify the financial value of winning Indianapolis to manufacturer
  • Estimate development costs in relation to purse for Chapman at Indianapolis
  • Consider the logistics and costs for Lotus attending Indianapolis in the 1960’s
  • How distinctive were Lotus cars and livery at Indianapolis
  • Establish exchange rates between $ and sterling in 1960’s
  • Examine European GP purse in contrast with Indianapolis
  • Compare Can-Am purse with Indianapolis

Education, Economics and Exhibitions

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In particular:-

  • Indianapolis :Chapman enters the Oval Office
  • Indianapolis: Chapman’s Bonanza
  • Indianapolis: Chapman’s American Dream
  • Indianapolis: Chapman’s Western Union
  • Indianapolis :Chapman’s Pony Express
  • Indianapolis :Chapman’s Transatlantic Treaty
  • Indianapolis : Chapman’s Declaration of Independence
  • Indianapolis :Chapman from brickbats to the brickyard
  • Jim Clark at Indianapolis :Scotland the Brave
  • Chapman at Indianapolis: An Englishman Abroad
  • British Pop in America: Chapman breaks all the records
  • Clark leads “Scotland the Brave”
  • Jim Clark at Indianapolis: Braveheart
  • The American Revolution:Rev’olution at Indianapolis
  • The American Civil War: Chapman challenges the Establishment at Indianapolis


The editors believe the conclusions here are fairly self-evident. Rather than repeat we invite subscribers to look at the objectives set out in the introduction and evaluate exactly what was achieved.In the editors estimation they were exceeded.

Chapman /Lotus and his team came to Indianapolis as a young progressive British team with little previous experience. On a modest budget they won in 1965, came very close on other occasions and set up a legacy that saw almost immediately wholesale that their concept was adopted.

Chapman and Lotus in the early days were not engine manufacturers, their achievement for Ford was immense and advanced their reputation in their home country and abroad. Also possibly allowing Chapman to access production engines economically. Although Ford did not go with Chapman for Le Mans their later collaboration for the Ford Cosworth DVF a couple of years later [see A&R dedicated article] would again set up revolutionary changes that echoed down through to the Lotus 72 etc.

Other marques are sometimes forced to buy or create publicity for marketing purposes. The editors invite our subscribers to consider the value of positive publicity that winning Indianapolis provided. Although it cannot be forensically proved possibly in the mind of Ford and Lotus owners was the glow of association, identification with a big winner.

Finally the editors call attention to the special relationship that pervaded the Chapman /Lotus achievement. A small young British specialist was collaborating with one of it not the largest car maker in the world, crossing the Atlantic out of near obscurity to win at Indianapolis. This was achieved with considerable team work, motivation and cooperation.

Furthermore this was in the era of the mid 1960’s when America and Britain were enjoying an explosion of youth culture and appreciation of each other’s contributions in design, manufacture, fashion and music. Around the time of the Indianapolis success Lotus Elan would appear on American TV in the cult programme The Avengers. It’s very likely in the public’s mind these events possessed a connectivity and association with a particular progressive modernism and Britishness. This in turn might have influenced a wider pervasiveness and acceptance of British products in America as well as feeding the large number of American tourists coming to Britain in the 1960’s. [See dedicated A&R article on Lotus and Carnaby Street etc.]

When we consider the achievements of Chapman and Lotus there is a risk the focus is too narrow and restrictive rarely stretching beyond the racing cars in fact the reality is more complex more fascinating and infinitely deeper in the cultural design impact he unleashed. The impacts still rippling through time in to today and the editors consider will extend well into the future.


To better comprehend the commercial/competition interface of the Ford Total Performance corporate strategy subscribers are directed to:-

Ford Total Performance: Ford’s Legendary High-Performance Street and Race Cars Author: Martyn L. Schorr publisher: Motorbooks International

Number of Pages: 208 publication Date: 05 Nov 2015 Language: English ISBN-10: 0760348588 ISBN-13: 9780760348581 – See more at: http://www.getbookz.xyz/book/9780760348581/ford-total-performance#sthash.k6QfNdEN.dpuf

Ford Total Performance: Ford’s Legendary High-Performance Street and Race Cars – Follow Ford’s leap into the 1960s and the performance era–on the streets and on the track! In the early 1960s, Ford Motor Company underwent a dramatic change in corporate philosophy. Previously, under Ford’s young chairman, Henry Ford II (“the Deuce”) safety, not performance, was the goal. But by 1962, even the chairman realized his philosophy needed to change. Ford was nearly invisible to car-crazy baby boomers. Lee Iacocca convinced Ford that he needed to act decisively or risk losing the emerging youth market to the competition. Thus began Ford’s “Total Performance” program. “Ford Total Performance” is all about Ford’s prime racing era from 1961 through 1971. In addition to purpose-built race cars, it also covers production performance cars, specialty models, and unique concepts such as lightweight drag race cars. The book explores the 427 Fairlane Thunderbolt; Mercury Comet; unique V-8 Falcons that competed in the 1963 and 1964 Monte Carlo Rallies; Dick Brannan’s 427 A/FX drag car; Ford Indy 500 winning race cars; 427 Overhead Cam SOHC 427 engines as used in A/FX and fuel race cars; Boss 302 and 429 Mustangs for street, drag racing, and Trans-Am; and many more. The Ford-Ferrari war that led to the creation of the legendary GT40 Le Mans race cars isn’t forgotten. Featuring unpublished period photographs, plus photos and artwork from Ford designers, “Ford Total Performance” covers all of Ford’s classic race and street cars, including Cobras and Shelby Mustangs. It’s a must-have book for any fan of classic American performance cars! – See more at: http://www.getbookz.xyz/book/9780760348581/ford-total-performance#sthash.k6QfNdEN.dpuf

See also;-

Ford Total Performance: The Road to World Racing Domination, 1962-1970 Mass Market Paperback – 1 Apr 2000

by Alex Gabbard (Author)



Ford Archive Gems Lotus in the 60’s.Duke.2007.

  • Andrew Ferguson, Lotus: The Indianapolis Years (Patrick Stephens, 1996) ISBN 1-85260-491-3
  • Len Terry, Alan Baker, Racing Car Design and Development (Robert Bentley, 1973) ISBN 0-8376-0080-4

The Lotus Book. Taylor

Inside the Innovator.

A Century of Wining Haymarket Publishing .2001.

Classic Racing Cars.Posthumus.Hamlyn.1977.

ISBN: 0600319091

Lotus: The Indianapolis Years [see A&r bibliography with our article on Indianapolis and Lotus race cars]

Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.

*Items in italics non A&R library books.