It’s hard not to look at this featured car for sale, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and not wonder what anyone could ever do with it. It is a racing car designed for one purpose, modified for another, and then modified again for yet another application before being put away for what looks like quite a long time. Because of this car’s ambiguity, the buyer will have a few options as far as what to do with it. Regardless, though, a new owner will have his work cut out for him.
The Lotus 27 was built with the intended purpose of contesting what would be the last season of Formula Junior as well as Formula 3. Taking the principle of monocoque construction from their revolutionary 25, Lotus produced a car that, after some initial teething problems and after replacing the fiberglass body with an aluminum one, proved very potent in the Formula Junior series with drivers like Peter Arundell and Mike Spence at the wheel.
The history of this particular Lotus 27 is not as clear as one might hope, but there are certain highlights in the seller’s description. The history of the car during the days of Formula Junior is unclear, but apparently famous East Coast racer Ray Heppenstall bought the car damaged and fitted it with Volkswagen running gear after hearing the announcement of the new Formula Super-Vee series. In an interview in 2000, Heppenstall claimed to have fitted the car with a Type I VW engine before hearing that it needed to be a Type IV. He made no mention of racing the car. The Lotus was apparently later shortened and modified for oval track racing and set up as a midget before doing a few races. The current owner bought it from the oval track racer, and lays out what is included in the sale:
What is offered for sale is a modified tub with wheel suspension arms, 6 pointed star cast wheels, brake disks with calipers and shocks. Steering gear, column and steering wheel, gearbox with Hewland extension and drive shafts, shifter rod, parts of the VW engine that has been used in this car. Rear stabilizer bar, 3 pedal assemblies, support bracket for nose.
A real head scratcher, this cryptic Lotus presents a problem for the restorer who tries to tackle it. Only two or three dozen 27s were ever built by Lotus, so it would be a fine addition to the vintage open wheel racing scene. At the same time, though, the extensive modifications made since the car’s Formula Junior days will make it extremely difficult, or even impossible, to get it back to proper Formula Junior-specs. Trying to get it set up for oval track racing again might be equally fruitless, but no matter what a classic Lotus racing car like this deserves to be brought back to life, whether as a proper and faithful period-correct car or as the interesting mutant it became in the 1970s.
Check out the 1963 Lotus 27 here on eBay, where the reserve is not yet met at $8,875.