1970 Lotus 61M Formula Ford
Serial Number: 61MxF3/193
Frame Number: AM 190
Gearbox Number: LC 309
Logbook: continuous since new, SCCA and SVRA
Price: $17900 USD
Location: near Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
click for more photos
The car was completely disassembled and the chassis brought up to as new condition, with the ungainly roll-over bar in the photos replaced with an original Lotus 69-type "A" shape. The chassis was powdercoated Lotus gray and reassembly began. All corners were completely disassembled, new wheel bearings and rod ends were installed as required. All cast parts were cad plated and any chrome showing any significant wear was redone. The engine was rebuilt by MWE and the gearbox gone through by BDR. All new aircraft fasteners were used throughout. The restoration is in the final stages of completion as of this writing. The car was already extremely original and now it is up to the standards of one of Bill's award winning restorations.
While portending the importance of aerodynamics in the future of Formula Ford the 61 approach was not completely effective. The lower powered nature of the formula ultimately forced the emphasis on reduced drag, not increased downforce, and the original 61 suffered from a lack of straight line speed and was eagerly sought by other racers on the track as an excellent candidate for a draft.
For 1970 the model was updated again at the Racing Car Show, again in Gold Leaf colors, however as the revised specification 61MxF3. The F3 designation was entirely wishful thinking and not a little creative marketing as almost certainly no 61's ever competed in this class. The aerodynamic shortcomings were addressed by removing a tapered wedge from the bodywork resulting in a lowering of the cockpit surround by four inches which provided a drastic reduction in frontal area. The tail cover was deleted, whether to spoil the draft or better balance the books is uncertain. These changes extended the life of the car but did not truly enhance its competitiveness against the new purpose built cars with full rod end suspensions. Despite the lack of competitive edge these cars were sold in good numbers in the U.S. where they formed the mainstay of the new SCCA Formula Ford.
61/MxF3/193 is typical of its type, having spent its entire early life as a SCCA regional car. It is unusual in its originality and completeness. It has a continuous log book since it was first issued in 1972, the year that the SCCA introduced them. Like all 61s, the roll-over bar had been replaced with an SCCA-legal one as this was required of these cars also in 1972. This is virtually the only divergence from its original factory condition. The Lotus sales records indicate the following about the car: It originally left the line on 12 July, 1969 as "61FF193" with green bodywork with a yellow stripe, no engine fitted, a Hewland Mk8 number LC309, on Arch Motors chassis AM190. The car was unsold in 1969 like many 61's and was refitted in 1970 by the factory and the chassis number changed to 61/MxF3/193. The original chassis tag has vanished and the left rear corner has had accident damage repairs which have obscured or eliminated the Arch Motors stamping, however 61's had duplicate Arch stamps on the engine bay top brace ("Y piece") and the number 190 appears here. The car also possesses its original gearbox, stamped "LC309". The Holbay engine is original including the distinctive front oil pump and rocker cover. All gauges and running gear appear to be the originals. The car also still has the original and now very rare Armstrong knob adjustable shock absorbers and the original exhaust system.
I purchased the car from Gary McCullough of Pennsylvania in 1986. Gary had raced the car a few times with the RCCA and also autocrossed the car. He purchased the car from Steve Barna of Minneapolis in 1983 or 84. Steve had performed a very careful and thorough ground up restoration on the car. Steve bought the car in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1981. Seven other owners are recorded in the log book back to the original issue to a Ken Keifer. When I purchased the car for the purposes of running SCCA Club Ford I performed a "running restoration". Ken's work on the chassis and suspension was quite good. The oil system was replumbed, a cooler with original mounting location was added, and the body was extensively restored, fifteen years of accumulated paint and repairs having doubled its weight. The nose had also been cut back, a common practice with 61's, and was restored to its original shape. Upon stripping the paint the base gelcoat was found to be green with a yellow stripe so it is probably the original body shell. I took the liberty of painting the car in the Earl's Court Racing Car Show colors, Gold Leaf red and white and also duplicated the show markings. A fuel cell and fire system were added and a new SCCA logbook issued in 1987. The car was campaigned in 1987 and 1989 in SCCA Club Ford and became Vintage eligable in 1989. Since that time the car has completed over 50 vintage races and was a regular fixture at vintage events on the East coast throughout the 90s.