Unquestionably the most famous works Lotus Cortina, BJH 417B delivered three outright victories and eight class wins for Jim Clark across the 1964 season – winning the championship series for homologated (and highly developed) touring cars.
At circuits across Britain, Clark tangled with legendary competition including the Ford Galaxies of Jack Sears, Dan Gurney, and Jack Brabham – a David and Goliath contest that saw an adoring public cheering on the Cortina’s cheeky antics. In this car Clark perfected the Cortina’s trademark manoeuvre of cornering on three wheels – levitating the inside front over the markers to shave a few precious inches off each apex.
The results were simply dominating: first in class and first overall at Crystal Palace and twice at Oulton Park, first in class and second overall at Goodwood, Snetterton and Brands Hatch, and first in class and third overall at Aintree and Silverstone.
The resulting glare of publicity means there can be few more potent symbols of one of Formula One’s greatest champions. With the winning season fully documented in a legacy of precious photographs, few competition machines with greater Clark provenance are ever likely to come to market. Quite simply, BJH 417B will always be Jim Clark’s Lotus Cortina.
A joint development by Colin Chapman’s Lotus and the Ford Motor Company – the Lotus Cortina was an initiative of Ford executive Walter Hayes. A potent Cosworth-tuned twin cam four, combined with a close-ratio gearbox and extensive suspension upgrades, transformed Ford’s sporting saloon into a potent competition machine.
Hayes’ vision extended to a team of Lotus works Cortinas to make a run at the British Saloon Car Championship, burnishing Ford’s growing motorsport credentials. With teammates like Jackie Stewart (who also raced this car), Peter Arundell, and Sir John Whitmore, fans loved the mix of racing talents with roadgoing machinery that they could aspire to drive too.
The Lotus Cortina expressed the wider racing partnership developing between Ford’s manufacturing might and Cosworth and Lotus innovation – the almighty Ford Cosworth DFV V-8 would later power the revolutionary Lotus 49, giving Clark his final Formula One victory and teammate Graham Hill the 1967 title.
First registered to Lotus Cars, at the end of her championship season BJH 417B was sold into private ownership. Later part of the collections of Tom Walkinshaw of TWR, Cortina racer Kerry Michael, and finally the pride and joy of another renowned Scots racing driver – this works Cortina has recently been a star attraction at the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum in Duns, Scotland, alongside Jim’s Grand Prix winning Lotus 25 R6.
BJH 417B has been comprehensively restored and is offered in outstanding order. Sporting the Lotus team livery of Ermine White with Sherwood Green flash and yellow pinstripe, she carries the black bonnet leading edge that marked her out as Clark’s car in the 1964 season. Bearing her period registration, she is instantly recognizable – and like her quiet-spoken period driver, says it all without a word spoken aloud.
This works Lotus Cortina’s outstanding history and championship-winning ways make it worthy of the world’s greatest collections, welcome at the world’s greatest events, and outstanding good fun to drive. She is the ultimate roadgoing tribute to Scotland’s greatest Formula One champion.