Video: Glorious raw V8 sounds of the Lotus 38

18th August 2020
Ben Miles

The Lotus 38 might look like just another 1960s Formula 1 car, it's even green with a yellow stripe, but in reality this is a very different beast. This is the car that changed the course of Indy 500 history.

At a time when F1 cars were still powered by weedy little 1.5-litre engines (the ‘Return to Power’ wasn’t until 1966) the Lotus 38 packed a mighty 4.2-litre Ford V8, and while F1 cars had ultra-high tech five-speed gearboxes, the 38 had a two-speed. This was a car built for top speed and oval racing.

While the rear-engined revolution had already come to F1 – courtesy of Cooper and Stirling Moss in 1959 – IndyCars were very much still in the “horse pulls the cart” school. The 38 changed that. In the hands of Jim Clark it won the 500 in 1965, becoming the first rear-engined car to do so, paving the way for the future we see today. Car and driver nearly repeated the feat in ’66 too, only to be beaten by another all-British pairing – Graham Hill and Lola.

At the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard in 2011 it took to the Hill in the hands of Jim Hill disciple, and multiple Indy 500 and IndyCar champion, Dario Franchitti. Not only does it look awesome, with an amazing spaghetti of exhausts coming from that big Ford block, and the crazy offset nature of the suspension designed for oval racing. But it sounds awesome too, all crackle and pop on the overrun. The kind of noise that F1 would have to wait another year to hear again.

If this is your kind of thing, and let’s be honest, it is, then you should check out Goodwood Speedweek – the only motorsport event at Goodwood in 2020. We’ve even put together a handy guide right here to tell you all about it.

Love Lotus? You’ll love the nine best Lotus racing cars.

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