Photos and Restorations

Lotus 51A Formula Ford Restoration

Lotus 51A Restoration

This page will document the restoration I performed on a 1967 Lotus 51A Formula Ford. This was a complete restoration starting with the bare frame on up. I will try to find as many old photos as I can to take you through the process on up to and including the sale of the car for my client who I restored it for and the subsequent service performed for the gentleman who purchased it.

Here on the right you can see the bare frame stripped of all of it's paint.
If you look to the left you can see the original body hanging upside down in the rafters.

I was really hoping I could find more photos of the early part of this restoration but I'm afraid they may be on some old "Floppy Discs" somewhere and I'll just need to look further. In any event the Lotus 51 Formula Ford was one of the first cars produced for the new Formula Ford series which has been a training ground for so many drivers throughout the years. Although needing a full restoration, including a new body, the car was fairly original aside from an updated roll bar. I hope you'll get a good idea of the construction of this car and an idea of how the Formula cars of the '60's were designed!

All of these photos will be of the finished product, but towards the end of the pictorial you will see some changes made to the car after the restoration which will depict some suspension and engine upgrades as well as a little "Shunt" repair.

Nice detail of the cockpit. It should be noted that the chassis tubes served double duty in not only being the frame but the conduit for the transfer of fluids from the engine to the radiator!

The 1600cc FF engine and Hewland Transaxle. The Lotus Formula Fords also used a Renault gearbox in the early years and this car was converted from that design.

The following shots will show the fresh restoration of this classic formula car design...Enjoy!
Note, the body on this car is the original "Long Tail" design that is the Lotus 51A. Later cars had a "Short Tail" design. Later on it was the custom to not use the tail section at all.

Notice that true to original Formula Ford specifications this car wore the original steel wheels which happened to be shod in vintage Goodyear tires!

Along with a new body a new windscreen was installed. All new aluminum panels where fabricated throughout as well. Various hardware such as the spring bodywork hold downs seen here were replaced with new bits also.

Love that nose!!!

Getting ready to take her to a show with my best friend, mentor and inspiration, my dear old Dad!

The following photos show some of the modifications and upgrades that were made after the initial restoration as well as some damage repair from a little shunt at Willow Springs Raceway.

A bit of driver comfort. This padding on the frame rails was installed to help insulate the driver against the heat generated from the oil and water running through them.

Here's another view, plus you can see the headrest, seat padding and in the background the original fuel tank which was replace by a Fuel Safe fuel cell.

Here we have a set of Revolution 4 Spoke wheels that I found to fit this application.

Prior to reconditioning I of course checked for cracks and trueness.

Two things to note here. One is that at an earlier point we replaced the original springs and shocks with Carrera units designed for the car. These gave us a greater range of adjustability. Secondly as you can clearly see the original engine has been removed for the installation of a new uprated Jay Ivey powerplant.

The engine is in and another addition is a new oil cooler mounted on the rear upper crossmember.

Installation is just about complete. Here you can also see that the shift linkage was updated with new joints and if you look closely you can see the new fuel cell. I also took the opportunity to install a Tilton gear reduction starter.

Whoops! Those front wheels don't look quite right...and what's with that body???

Bit of tire rub.

And a bit more...and that spring and shock doesn't look too happy.

Damage Control, Damage Control!

That don't look good!

Checking things out...

Okay, we can braze that pickup point back on. Early English formula car construction...mild steel tubing and a lot of brazing...but it works!

Pickup point reinstalled and ready to paint, fabricate a new aluminum side panel and reassembly.

Here are a couple nifty shots taken from the top of the trailer!

Mmmmm...winning is so damn satisfying!!!

Yes, this makes all of the late nights, skinned knuckles, tense moments and everything else so worth it!!!

I'd just like to add one more tidbit...I'm willing to bet that 90% of restored Lotus 51's, as well as other Lotus formula cars of this era are painted British Racing Green with a Yellow nose and stripe...and now so many years after this restoration I wonder why my wonderful daughter is contrary!!!
Just a little personal footnote...

And of course I cannot forget to include this photo of our little kitty "Lotus"!
She was with us for 21 years and as you can see here she claims here rightful perch on the 51A.