12-301 is the prototype 12, designed by Colin Chapman for the new for 1957 Formula Two category.  A radical design (surprise!), she caused a real stir at Earls Court – as intended – then was set aside, in favour of the subsequent chassis built for Works and customer racing.  Since then she ended up at Beaulieu for a while, before languishing in the Piggeries since 1970.

Bob Dance has commissioned her with a running engine and gearbox and yesterday was the day that Clive Chapman sat in his father’s place to drive her for the first time, albeit a few slow laps around the Classic Team Lotus workshop.  Even so, that was enough for Bob to come up with another job list.  Hopefully she will be on the Hethel test track for a proper run, before long.

Words & video courtesy of Classic Team Lotus.


A group of Lotus enthusiasts were on a tour or Classic Team Lotus at the time, Vince Houlton posted this with his images online after the event.

“There were many special moments, but this really stood out. Near the start of the tour, Guy took us outside to where one of Lotus’ early single seater race cars was sitting. Guy has now refreshed my knowledge and I can tell you that it is a Type 12, the first Lotus F1 entry. That particular car is chassis 301, the very first, as seen at the 1956 Earls Court motor show. It has never run until now. It was being worked on by the legendary Bob Dance (he’s in the green coat), who joined Lotus in the early 60’s and was Jim Clark’s race engineer. At the age of 83, Bob still works at the Classic Team Lotus factory. This, in itself, was magical, but after we had finished the tour, we were shooting the breeze in the car park when there was an almighty racket. Clive Chapman (son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman) then appeared driving the car, and did several laps of the outside of the building. Honestly, could this day have been any more special?”

All images courtesy of Vince Holton.

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