Lotus Is Building New ’70s-Style Can-Am Racers With 830-HP V8s

Ten lucky buyers will be able to drive what Colin Chapman started but never finished 50 years ago.

Lotus planned to enter the Can-Am racing series in 1970 with a car called the Type 66, but never did. The project died on the vine as Lotus founder Colin Chapman prioritized Formula 1 instead. The Type 66 was supposed to be an ultra-lightweight, ultra-powerful machine to rival the McLarens, Lolas, and Porsches of the field, yet it never advanced past the scale model phase. Until today, that is, now that the new-for-2023 Lotus Type 66 has been unveiled with a $1.2 million price tag, 830 horsepower, and those sweet intake trumpets.

The oh-so-’70s shape you see here is representative of what Team Lotus designer Geoff Ferris penned 53 years ago. It’s meant to be more than slippery; there are holes in the bodywork that allow air to pass through and create nearly 1,800 pounds of downforce at 150 miles per hour. This was achieved after more than 1,000 hours of computational fluid dynamics research, showing that Lotus of today put in a lot of work to perfect what Lotus of yesterday started.

There happens to be some pretty modern tech underneath that classically styled shell. While the chassis is period-correct with extruded aluminum, bonded joints, and honeycomb panels, it has current-day features like EPASS power steering, anti-lock brakes, and a sequential gearbox with reverse. Lotus claims that applying 21st-century advancements to the throwback fundamentals allows the Type 66 to lap Laguna Seca as fast as current GT3 cars, maybe even faster.

Of course, the big pushrod V8 has a hand in that too. It’s unclear where Lotus is getting these engines from—we’ve asked and will update this post with the company’s response—but we do know a few specifics. It hits its 830-hp peak at 8,800 rpm while thumping out roughly 550 pound-feet of torque at a slightly lower 7,400 rpm. It has a forged crankshaft, rods, and pistons all made of aluminum, and Lotus brags that those intake trumpets do a lot for volumetric efficiency.

That’s all well and good, but I’m happy just looking at ’em.

“We are incredibly proud to have completed such a unique project, and one that Colin Chapman was personally involved in,” said Lotus Design Director Russell Carr. “There is a real delicacy in remastering the past. This is not a re-edition or a restomod, but a completely new breed of Lotus—a commitment that our past glories will continue to be reflected in our future.”

That’s encouraging. The future of Lotus, as we were led to expect, looked like the battery-powered Eletre SUV that shirks both lightness and outright performance for luxury. This Type 66 gives us some hope that the old ethos may continue to live on somewhere within the company. Even if it is priced outrageously high and will be limited to 10 examples.

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