Motoring | Features

Lotus 49

The Lotus 49 is legendary for all the right reasons — including having its hand in the mega-dollar rise of Formula 1 racing to the commercial enterprise that it is today

  • By Dejan Jovanovic, wheels
  • Published: 16:25 January 15, 2013
  • Wheels

Lotus 49
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • The Lotus 49 won on its debut, utilising its 415bhp DFV engine perfectly with the 500kg total weight.

Colin Chapman broke new ground in most engineering aspects of a Formula 1 car, whether it was rear suspension struts, monocoque chassis, aerodynamic wings, side-mounted radiators (to free up the front and reduce frontal area, decreasing drag — in other words, more speed), or mad experiments like twin-chassis, ground effect and vacuum-creating side skirts for absurd grip.

The famed Lotus designer, however, didn’t just leave his mark on the engineering
side of things, having also changed the commercial world of Formula 1, diverting its path from a gentlemen’s pastime into a multi-billion dollar industry.

The car that helped do all that was Chapman’s Lotus 49. Created together with his aircraft-specialist buddy Maurice Philippe, the low-flying Lotus 49 Grand Prix car was in more ways than one influenced by slightly higher flying stuff such as Comet and De Havilland planes.

The 49 was the first F1 car to feature aerofoil wings mounted directly to the suspension, before settling into their now common position of being integrated into the bodywork. More significantly, the 49 was the first F1 car to be designed around an engine, the legendary Cosworth DFV, in part commissioned by Chapman, as it featured the V8 as a structural member of the car bolted directly to the aluminium monocoque tub, and solely supporting the transmission and rear suspension components.

Today all F1 cars, and indeed the vast majority of open-wheeler single-seaters and prototype racers, are designed in this way. But for all its design advancements that gave the 49 a storied racing life some four Grand Prix seasons long — the car won on its debut at the Dutch Zandvoort circuit with Jim Clark behind the wheel and took two championships — it was the commercial doing that left its mark on Formula 1.

Colin Chapman scored a coup when he stuck cigarette brand John Player Gold’s colours all over a Lotus 49 and put Clark in the car for the off-season non-championship event at New Zealand’s Pukekohe circuit in 1968. It was the beginning of big-money racing and the love affair between Formula 1 and tobacco advertising lasted all the way until 2007.

Related Links

Even today a Lotus 49 is instantly recognisable thanks to its white, gold and red John Player Gold livery, and team colours in Formula 1 soon took a back door to the corporate liveries of tobacco brands such as Marlboro, Gitanes, Camel, John Player Special, Lucky Strike, Rothmans, Winston, West, Benson & Hedges, Mild Seven…

Packed with the latest local and global motoring news, first drives, up-market car products, bikes and more

Wheels
Life & Style editor's choice
FROM THE NETWORK

More from friday

  • WH_141024_Lambo_Huracan_STF_Stefan065
    Unhinged Huracàn meets the UAE’s maddest road

    Al Taween. Renowned for its goat s, tiny grocery shops and one of the great est mounta in roads in the world. Ripping up the newly laid tar mac? A Lamborghini Huracán. Buckle up!

  • WH_141031_mywheels_rashed (1)
    Rashed Abdulla Bin Fahad’s double impact

    Ever since he was bitten by a Mustang Cobra, Rashed couldn’t look beyond American cars. So when it came to choosing a pick-up truck and a performance saloon, the decision was easy for him

  • WH_141031_Subarub driven (6)
    Subaru WRX STI driven

    Subaru’s iconic flagship sports saloon is back, and along with all the upgrades comes a welcome price, too

  • WH_141031_SUP_Fiat 500 (2)
    Fiat 500 Cult refreshed

    Fiat’s nifty city car star has been updated for 2015 to keep pace with its small car rivals. Does it still have the magic that makes it a style icon?

  • Jonathan Castle
    Shifting opinions

    In defence of the (gasp!) continuously variable transmission...

More from Wheels

More from aquarius

More from alpha

  • gold-leaf-bath
    Inside Downtown Design

    From chic and contemporary to modern and magnificent home wares, this year's exhibition is nothing short of extraordinary

  • Noura_Main
    Highly commended finalist: Noura Al Ramahi

    Along with our three fabulous finalists, the judges decided to include a Highly Commended category as the standard of entries to our competition was so high. This goes to Noura Al Ramahi for her stunning villa in Abu Dhabi. Well done Noura – it’s beautiful!

  • IO_141020_Home of the Year awar86
    In pictures: InsideOut Home of the Year Awards

    The InsideOut Home of the Year Awards 2014 party held at the Nawwara Bar at the JW Marriott Marquis on the 20th October went with a swing! Here’s our gallery of a really great night….

  • IO_141014_Casablanca_STF_Stefan07
    InsideOut Home Of The Year finalist: Dana Jaber

    Dana Jaber’s Al Barsha villa was considered by the judges to be bold, original and eclectic. We loved her individual approach to decorating which lends interest and unexpected touches to every room

  • Main_2
    InsideOut Home Of The Year finalist: Helena Brown

    Helena Brown’s home in Umm Suqeim was a favourite with the judges because of the many personal touches, and undeniable sense of comfort and style. Her interest in Feng Shui has helped achieve a calm relaxed ambience

More from insideout