For while it was originally designed to be a more advanced version of the Lotus 72, which won three constructors’ championships (1970, ’72 and ’73) and two drivers’ championships (1970 and ’72), the Lotus 76 failed to impress, and was plagued with problems throughout its sole season.
During its debut at the South African Grand Prix, the third race of 1974, the two 76s, driven by Jackie Ickx and Ronnie Peterson collided, forcing both drivers to withdraw. At the proceeding races, brake and engine failure spelt disaster for the car, which continued until the 76 was upgraded to 'B' specification – with enlarged sidepods and better cooling – after which it saw marginally improved performance.
But with its Ford-Cosworth DFV engine, modified aerodynamics and biplane rear wing, the ‘John Player Special MkI’ was nonetheless a sight to behold. In fact, it still is, as we saw at the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard back in 2011.
Driven by British historic race Andrew Beaumont, it attacked the hillclimb during the timed shootout.