While checking out this stylish re-bodied, race inspired 608PS (447kW) machine, one of the revived British coachbuilder Radford’s team – 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button – strolled over and asked me what I thought of the car. Simultaneously one of his colleagues carefully removed the huge black and gold John Player Special (JPS) wording from both sides of the car, though the rest of the livery remained in place. This decal removal was due to tobacco promotion now being outlawed in the UK on new vehicles (unlike most of the rest of the world, with historic motor racing liveries thankfully being exempt from this rather ‘nanny state’ ruling).
This clean, simple and elegant livery was made famous through Imperial Tobacco’s JPS sponsorship on a few dominant 1970s Lotus Grand Prix racers, from the World Championship-winning Type 72 of 1972, via the innovative Type 78 and 79, right through to the Renault V6 turbo-powered Type 98T of the 1986 F1 season (with a brief Essex-sponsored blue and silver livery), as driven by Ayrton Senna, plus his team mate Johnny Dumfries as JPS reportedly wanted a British driver in its line-up.
Just 12 of the 62 mid-engined two-seater Radford’s being built will feature the black and gold JPS tobacco livery, with the equally iconic red, white and gold ‘Gold Leaf’ cigarette logo being offered, plus the ‘standard’ 431PS (321kW) entry Classic edition. Over the Classic derivative, the upgraded 62-2 Gold Leaf edition also gains some design cues inspired by the race car’s livery and rear wings, which, on the original pioneering Type 62, were added by Lotus founder Colin Chapman for additional downforce.