1980 Lotus Type 86/88 Windtunnel Model
Serial Number: none assigned
Logbooks: none required
Condition: never raced
Price: $15,000 USD
DescriptionThis is the actual Team Lotus windtunnel model used to develop the radical "twin chassis" F1 car. The "twin chassis" concept is one of two major aerodynamic innovations pioneerd by Team Lotus, the other being ground effects in the Type 78. The "twin chassis" concept proved such a threat to current design practice that it was immediately banned by the FIA, never being allowed to race. This is the actual model that Team Lotus used to test the design in the windtunnel and later attempt to explain the workings of the design to the FIA.
The Type 86 prototype and Type 88 racecar were designed to circumvent the ban on sliding skirts and also isolate the driver from the aerodynamic download. Based on the Type 81, it's aluminum honeycomb monocoque with conventional suspension formed the primary chassis, carrying the driver, fuel tanks, and drivetrain, all relatively softly suspended. A secondary chassis was constructed in carbon composite and carried the bodywork, side pods, wings, and radiators. This transmitted the downforce directly to the unsprung portion of the primary chassis. The primary chassis could therefore be relatively softly sprung with the high downforce transmitted directly to the tire's contact patch.
A single prototype Type 86 was constructed and tested in 1980. Anticipating potential acceptability problems with the twin chassis concept, a fall-back Type 87 was concurrently designed, also based on the Type 81 chassis. Work then proceeded on the Type 88 race version of the twin chassis. Both the the primary and secondary chassis were constructed in carbon composite, with three carbon beams of the secondary chassis running through the primary chassis and all the aero downloads of the secondary chassis being fed directly into the uprights.
The car passed scrutineering at Long Beach but was banned from the race due to protest. A subsequent hearing by the American FIA signatory found the car approved. However, when Lotus attempted to race the car again at Rio it passed scrutineering but was again banned. At Argentina it failed to pass scrutineering and Chapman's outspoken press conference resulted in a $100,000 fine by FISA. An appeal before the FIA in Paris was conducted to attempt to overthrow the ban, a proceeding in which this model figured prominently, but the ban remained in effect.
Lotus then produced the revised Type 88B with bodywork differences. This revised car passed RAC scrutineering and again practiced, despite a threat from FISA that the British race would lose it's World Championship status. Further protests from other teams saw it removed for the fourth time, never to attempt to race again.