Onboard Track Time In A Lotus Cortina


The Lotus Cortina tears up the track under BTCC Champion Gordon Shedden

Are you familiar with the Lotus Cortina?  If not, it’s understandable.  It’s a very rare sight in the United States.

But, allow me to explain my interest in the vehicle. During the mid-1960’s, Lotus made enhancements to the Ford Cortina chassis.  With a manual transmission, a 2+2 seating arrangement, and rear-wheel-drive, the Lotus Cortina was a competitive track car.

More from Art of Gears

Lotus helped develop the engine.  The engine is a 1.6 liter, four-cylinder, capable of 106 horsepower.  Underpowered?  Sure, that’s easy to say, but keep in mind the chassis was listed at just under 2,000 lbs.  What a package!  Lotus made enhancements with a close-ratio, 4-speed manual, quicker steering rack, and lightweight doors, hood, and trunk.  Further enhancements were made to the suspension for more predictable handling at the limit.

Sound good?  Thought so.  Goodwood Road & Racing provided video of the Lotus Cortina at the track, with British Touring Car Championship driver, Gordon Shedden.

Competing against an Alfa Romeo, it’s easy to see that the Lotus Cortina is easy to drive.  Yes, Gordon Shedden also makes the drive look easy.  But, the car is the result of a driver’s inputs, and he’s able to place the Lotus Cortina wherever he wants on the track.

More cars: Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge Rank Well In JD Power Study

With a simple layout, lightweight construction, close-ratio transmission, and rear-wheel-drive, the Lotus Cortina is a proper car for a vintage racer.  Add the 2+2 seating, and it’s far more practical than the McLaren 570GT with a proper hatch opening.

We long for the days of cars with personality.  We long for the days of cars with the right elements of an enjoyable drive.  The Lotus Cortina encompasses those elements, and offers a competitive, fun drive, all at the same time.