Types 30 & 40

LOTUS Types 30&40 [1964 -1965]


The A&R is offering this item as a result of a request from one of our subscribers.

We are happy to respond in this manner and hope other suggestions will be forthcoming.

This is not a technical dissertation or catalogue of race results but rather a wider appreciation and interpretation.

The Type 30 and 40 and thought to be amongst the less successful of the Lotus competition cars.
The author would suggest a re-examination and when seen in a different context perhaps these machines might be re-evaluated.

The A&R approach is to measure and contrast for the purpose of evaluation. The author therefore recommends the forthcoming article on the Ford Fairlane Lola GT that has a direct relevance to understanding both the context and performance of the Types 30 and 40.

The Continuum and Context

The Types 30 and 40 ought be seen in context of Lotus development.
The editor makes these connections and links.

  • Type 19 Sports Racer 1960
  • Type 23 Sports Racer 1962
  • Type 25 F1 1962
  • Type 26 Elan 1962
  • Type 28 Lotus Cortina 1962
  • Type 29 Indianapolis Car 1963
  • Type 30 Group 7 1964
  • Type 34 Indianapolis Car 1964
  • Type 38 Indianapolis Car 1965
  • Type 40 Indianapolis Car 1965
  • Type 46 Europa S1 1966
  • Type 47 Racing Europa 1966

The conventional wisdom or history suggests that Chapman had hoped to win a contract/ commission to develop a sports racing car for Ford. This did not materialise and went to Lola and that the Types 30 and 40 were inferior attempts at competition.

The editor would suggest the reference to the continuum of Lotus development and its breakneck speed. Chapman and Lotus had developed extremely successful links with Ford and the reason for loss of the commission is not really known but Lotus had track record and real urgency to deliver.

Whether Le Mans history impacted cannot be known.

Lotus achievements were staggering with one or more new products per year. This has to be understood in the context of their labour force and income [sadly objective information does not exist although its important to make some ball park calculation] but it was not the budget that Ford was able to commit. If the product was less than successful over stretching might have been the cause.

Should have Ford invested rather than Lola the result might have been very different and perhaps it ought be recalled that although the Lola spawned the Ford GT40 it was not spectacularly successful in its own right and the GT40 only came good after a multi million $ research and development programme.

It’s worth noting the Ford Fairlane Lola GT launched 1963 and the Ford GT40 was completed in 1963 and raced 1964.

The author also suggests other possibilities that might have impacted on the design and performance of the 30&40. It might have been intended that the car was to be a closed coupe and some additional stiffness might have been imparted to the chassis .The other feeling is that perhaps some where in the background the 30 &40 were intended to grow into an integrated family of sports cars commencing with a relatively small capacity Ford engine. These models might have performed far better without the enormous and heavy V8.

It cannot be known if the Europa was conceived directly or indirectly from the 30 &40 but it suggests whatever Chapman’s inadequacies he never failed to move on and incorporate lessons at devastating speed. The knowledge gained was also probably carried through from the Europa to the Esprit range.

In defence of the Type 30 & 40 they were sold at very competitive prices [believed circa £3,700] and this enabled many to reach, afford and participate in a class of racing that might not otherwise been available. Many were developed and significantly improved. They were possibly too powerful for their aerodynamics and with the expense of wind tunnel testing they were in unknown territory. Later in the 1960’s the early generation of super cars were still experiencing front-end lift.

Conventional wisdom says that these models were a relative failure; they might not have sold in the volumes of the Eleven and 23 but a respective number were made.

These models were extremely beautiful and almost the last of an era. Although not the greatest of commercial and competition success they were not an absolute failure for such a small company without subsidy from government or mass production.

They have found favour with historic racers and remain magnificent and worthy competition to the likes of Ferrari, Lola, McLaren and Chaparral.

The Design and Aesthetic [see photographs]

The Type 30& 40 were designs conceived to conform to Group Seven and Can –Am racing. They were designed and built c 1964 by Chapman, Len Terry [who may have had reservations for various reasons and other engineers at Lotus] the company was at Chesthunt during this period.

The considerable aesthetic beauty of the Type 30 &40 models possibly emanates from their organic forms. This might also have contributed in part to some of the handling failures. The chassis relative to the V8 was another consideration. The car depending on gearing, at least theoretically was capable of 150 mph plus.

The dimensions and hence proportions:

49”front track
47.5”rear track
26.5” high top of windscreen
4.5”ground clearance

Note an average approximation has been made across both cars.

It might have raced in the “Big Banger” class but this was no brute.

The original prototype body was believed to have been executed in aluminium and subsequently in glass fibre.

The 30&40 and a symphony of sensuous curvaceous flowing curves in elevation and section. Large handsome and imposing. Voluptuous. It has presence. Large hansom imposing.

The undulating wave like form is far more pronounced than the 19 or 23. The respective wings height front and rear visually indicate/ articulate /communicate / orientate and hence identify form and function. Of course this is reinforced by cockpit position also.

The screen fuses, integrates and nestles between the rounded domed top wheel arches.

The extremely reclined seating position dictates the long cockpit opening and Perspex screen angled back on a sharp rake.

Seen head on all the main design features and proportions are accentuated. The profile is an exaggerated bent wire “M”. The considerable width is apparent across the shallow “bonnet” which forms a flat-bottomed valley between the parabolic curves of the front wheel arches. Under which a spare wheel was mounted.

The low set nose is a bunted arrowhead in to which two radiators are ducted. The Perspex headlamp covers suggest night racing can be considered.

When fitted with a roll bar the car loses some of its undulating grace and the hard-edged geometry of these bars breaks the uninterrupted flow of the original design.

The rear elevation has certain symmetry with the front but in the “valley” there is an engine cover .The 13×7 tyres speak of the era and the power being delivered from the V8.

The author likes and admires the aesthetic of the Type 30 &40.They are perhaps amongst the last of the “organic” shape prior to the perhaps more efficient aerodynamically but less visually appealing sharp edged, squared off and flat surface wedge bodies.

The 30&40 possess harmony and poise despite their bulk and power. This might be helped but the undulating profile and very low build. Seen at rest or in motion all lines and proportion flow and integrate with a homogeneous 3D totality.
The design has expression and vocabulary and clearly distinguishes which is front and rear and which way the car travels. This is not always the case with mid and rear engine cars. They often became schizophrenic and the viewer does no know which way they are facing.

The power and performance of these “Big Bangers” produced some brutish Tyson looks but the Type 30&40 retained much of the lithe muscular and athleticism of Ali.

The cockpit was entered via relatively long drop down doors. The driver was required to surmount a wide cill that housed petrol tanks. The black plastic seats ran flat to the floor and the driver as mentioned was in a very inclined position approximately 40degree lean backwards. Most drivers’ eye line was just above the Perspex screen. A small diameter leather rimmed Motolita steering wheel was often fitted.

The backbone chassis formed a prop shaft tunnel that rose from the floor to approximately outstretched elbow level. The dashboard is believed to have formed part of the body and relatively small instruments were fitted possibly including revcounter , speedo, water and oil temperature, oil pressure and toggle switches.
Of course the gear change lever is on the right hand site for the rear-mounted gearbox.

Finished in Team Lotus colours of BRG and yellow with stripe. it accentuated the low purposeful build. The knocks on hub wheels were complementary and not excessive.


Lotus sports Racers. [Colin Pitt] Unique Motor Books. ISBN: 1841554308

The Lotus Book. William Taylor. Coterie Press. ISBN: 1902351002

Cut away drawings by James Allington and Dick Ellis for Autocar.

30 & 40 1