Why Not Buy This Vintage Lotus Formula Car for Less Than $30,000?

Colin
By Colin Wood
Jan 8, 2021 | Lotus, formula ford, 61

Let’s say you have $30,000 to spend on a car. Sure, you could do the responsible thing with that buy a crossover, sedan or even SUV so you and your 3.15 kids could go on fun family outings to Wally World. Or, you could spend it on this vintage 1969 Lotus 61 Formula Ford, and still have about $3100 left over. (That’s enough for a $2000 Challenge car and couple cases of your beverage of choice.)

Maybe that’s not a totally realistic scenario, though if you are someone looking to get your foot in the door for some vintage racing, $30,000 isn’t too terrible of a ticket for entry—even if the cost doesn’t factor in other expenses like spares and fuel and everything else.

Read more about this 1969 Lotus 61 up for sale over on Classic Motorsports, and let us know if you think it’s good deal for a real Lotus race car or if you’d rather spend that money on something else.

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Comments
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Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/7/21 10:39 a.m.

This article encapsulates my current mindset.

Vintage Formula Fords run between 12K - 30K, most groups are now using a spec tire and it's not uncommon for people to do a season on one set of tires. They also don't use a lot of fuel, you can tow them with most cars, and you only need a small single axle trailer.

Every time I think I want a fancy road car I immediately think of the kind of performance I can get with a formula car. I had been looking for something less pedestrian than my Outback but then quickly figured out I could by a formula car with the savings.

In my case I went with a F500, that I now have $5200 into and I've started running it with VARA. 

 

 

 

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/7/21 11:36 a.m.

I'm a fan of vintage Formula Fords.  Here's mine.

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) Dork
1/7/21 11:47 a.m.

Had to look twice at that thing to see the four cylinder engine and no wing on the back. With that paint job I thought that was an old Formula One Lotus for way too cheap. 

 

Here is the one with the Cosworth DFV...

 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/7/21 1:31 p.m.

I'm not saying that they have mail or anything, but...

pkingham (Forum Supporter)
pkingham (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/7/21 1:58 p.m.

In reply to APEowner :

Looks familiar. These are mine. 
And I agree they are a lot of bang for the buck. Last summer I put treaded tires in the yellow one and ran with VSCDA at Grattan. It wasn't as competitive as SCCA Club Ford racing, but it was still fun. 
 

That Lotus, though, is awefully pretty!

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/7/21 2:00 p.m.

Two dumb questions - Can a big guy drive one of these? will most groups let you run them with street cars at normal non-race track days?

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/7/21 2:11 p.m.
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) said:

Two dumb questions - Can a big guy drive one of these? will most groups let you run them with street cars at normal non-race track days?

Dunno about the first question, but in general the answer to the second one is no.  Most track days I have been to have a "must have fenders" policy.

Even if they didn't, I don't think it would be smart to mix a ~ 1000 pound open wheel car with 4000 pound sedans.  It's small and low, hard to see, plus it's so much faster than most street cars that you wind up doing a lot of passing of people who didn't really expect you to be there.  Same problem as a sports racer like a Radical, except even more fragile.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/7/21 2:18 p.m.

In reply to codrus (Forum Supporter) :

Sort of what I expected. 

Rons
Rons GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/7/21 2:20 p.m.

In reply to pkingham (Forum Supporter) :

I thought the yellow one looked like a Citation/Zink with a different nose.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/7/21 2:34 p.m.
pkingham (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to APEowner :

Looks familiar. These are mine. 
And I agree they are a lot of bang for the buck. Last summer I put treaded tires in the yellow one and ran with VSCDA at Grattan. It wasn't as competitive as SCCA Club Ford racing, but it was still fun. 
 

That Lotus, though, is awefully pretty!

Nice!  I've never driven one of the more modern cars with the inboard suspension.

Most if not all of the older Lotus race cars are pretty.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/7/21 2:41 p.m.
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) said:

Two dumb questions - Can a big guy drive one of these? will most groups let you run them with street cars at normal non-race track days?

Move to my side of the pond.  One of these and a helmet and you can run with the "advanced" run group no prob! laugh

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/7/21 2:48 p.m.
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) said:

Two dumb questions - Can a big guy drive one of these? will most groups let you run them with street cars at normal non-race track days?

Big folk can fit in some Formula Fords.  Some have more room than others from the factory and some have been modified to fit.  I wouldn't buy one without trying it on first.

For all the reasons codrus mentioned I wouldn't run with a group that mixed open wheel cars with tin tops.  They're also something you don't want to drive casually.  They're very fast and don't crash as safely as a production based car.  It's not that they're particularly hard to drive (at least when setup well) but the cornering speed combined with the minimal crush zones increase the risk of error and the likelyhood of injury if things go wrong. 

For all those reasons I don't think they make good track day cars.  I understand that they can make excellent autocross cars but I have no firsthand experience with that.

As race cars go, however they're relativly affordable, the racing is close and they're very easy to work on.  Setup can be a challange since everything is adjustable you can get them pretty far out of whack.  I drove on once that was so bad that I came in after the warmup lap to make adjustments.

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/7/21 7:35 p.m.

I've done a track day in my F500 where we mixed it up with sedans. You do have to be mindful of other cars. I did spend some time riding behind cars for close to half a lap, mainly because I wanted them to be sure they saw me.

 

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