Bugatti T251

Bugatti T251 1950s French F1 car

The Bugatti T251 was designed by Gioacchino Colombo. He had formerly worked for Ferrari. Fifties F1 cars were front-engined. Or, they were until Columbo came along. His T251 broke with that tradition. Its straight-eight engine was placed behind the driver. The 5-speed Porsche gearbox - and final drive - were unitary with the motor. That allowed for weight distribution ahead of its time. It all sat in a tubular space-frame chassis. Which was, in turn, hitched up to deDion axles. The fuel tanks flanked the driver. Another harbinger of F1 things to come.

The catalyst for the T251 was Jacques Bolore. He had recently married into the Bugatti family. It was not long before Bolore was influencing the way Bugatti was run. Since founder Ettore Bugatti's death - in '47 - the firm had put racing on hold. Bolore, though, had visions of Bugatti back in F1. Enter the T251! It was unveiled in late '55 - at an airfield, close to Bugatti's Molsheim base. It was there, too, that the car was first put through its paces - though not until March of the following year. Tester was Maurice Trintignant. The T251 was duly entered for the French GP, at Reims. Not, however, without qualms. T251 testing had revealed flaws. Designer Columbo - and driver Trintignant - maintained that more development was needed. But, Bolore's mind was made up. He wanted to go racing. And - in terms of executive clout - Bolore was now in Bugatti's driving seat.

Two 251s were taken to Reims. As the race got underway, the cars' avant-garde layout seemed on the money. Traction was noticeably improved - especially out of slower corners. High-speed handling, on the other hand, was hairy. The 251 had qualified 18th out of 20 starters. Ironically, it was to retire after only 18 laps. The pretext Bugatti gave was that the throttle was sticking. But, it was clear - to anyone with eyes to see - that the T251 was way off the pace. And - with Bugatti's coffers depleted - there was no more money for development, anyway. All a bit of an anti-climax, then - as far as Bugatti's return to top-flight racing was concerned. Sadly, Jacques Bolore's beloved T251 project turned into something of a damp squib!

Ferrari California

Ferrari California 2000s Italian sports car

The Ferrari 250 California - released in '57 - was one of the most iconic cars ever created. A tad over half a century later, came another California. Designed by Pininfarina, seamless aerodynamics were key to the new car's styling. And the 2008 California was light. Both chassis and body were aluminium.

The F1-style steering-wheel featured Manettino dials. They modulated the gearbox, suspension and traction-control settings. The latter came in the form of the F1-Trac set-up. Should those systems' limits still be exceeded, an automatic roll bar was deployed. As well as front and side airbags. The California could be set to Comfort or Sport mode, too. At track-days, however - or, indeed, at any other time - the safety controls could be switched off. Apart from ABS braking, that is.

Ferrari's 4,300cc V8 engine made 460bhp. That catapulted the California to 193mph. Torque was on tap from way down low. The 7-speed semi-automatic transmission saw to that. Unlike some supercars, the California's cabin was roomy and comfortable. There was a retractable top. And plenty of luggage-space was provided. So, the Ferrari California was built for speed. To that extent, it echoed its fabled 250 predecessor. But - in common with that design classic - it was kitted out for cruising, too, if required.

Norton Commando Fastback 750

Norton Commando Fastback 750 1960s British classic motorcycle

Unlike some of its 'Brit bike' brethren, the Norton Commando Fastback 750 was a smooth and comfortable ride. Well, by 1960s standards, anyway. That was due, in no small part, to Norton's proprietary engine-mounting set-up. Made up mostly of rubber, it was dubbed 'isolastic'. The Commando's motor was a parallel twin - not a layout synonymous with seamless power delivery. The isolastic system, though, duly dialled out the worst excesses of the inherent engine vibrations.

Norton had long prided itself on its bikes' handling prowess. The Commando turned out to be no exception. In '73, the bike was taken to the toughest road test of all - the Isle of Man TT race. Norton's road-holding claims were upheld. Peter Williams - the Commando's rider - took the Formula 750 trophy.

The road-going Fastback's performance was almost as impressive. Its 745cc motor put out 58bhp. And with the Commando weighing in at just 418lb, that meant a top speed of 117mph. With so much all-rounder status in its pocket, the Commando was bound to sell well. Sadly, though, not well enough to save Norton from its date with financial destiny. For its uncommon blend of style and substance, however, the Commando Fastback 750 will be forever revered by classic bike enthusiasts!

Austin A90 Atlantic

Austin A90 Atlantic 1940s British classic car

If ever there was a car which straddled two countries, it was the Austin A90 Atlantic. Both Austin and Pontiac emblems adorned the A90's bonnet/hood. Built in Longbridge, England, it was one of the cars which blazed a trail out of the post-Second World War slump. The Atlantic was the first British car built primarily for the American market. In hindsight, its trans-oceanic mission was doomed from the outset. Stateside, they were used to 6- and 8-cylinder engines. So, the A90's 4-pot tally simply did not cut the mustard. The writing was on the wall when an Atlantic broke 63 stock-car records, at Indianapolis - in a week. Sales still did not pick up. Sadly, this was a case in which the American Dream just was not going to come true!

As the Atlantic's foray into stock-car racing had proved, it did not lack for performance. Indeed, the A90 was one of few post-war cars capable of 90mph. It was practical, too. When the A90 was launched - in '48 - petrol was still being rationed. So, the Atlantic's frugal fuel consumption - 25mpg - was a valuable commodity. Its in-line four motor made 88bhp. Hence, the car's code-name - when rounded up to 90. Peak power kicked in at 4,000rpm. Top torque - 140lb/ft - arrived at 2,500rpm. Four speeds could be selected on the American-style steering-column gearshift.

7,981 Atlantics were built. Of those, a mere 350 made it to America. The A90 had taken the '48 Earls Court Motor Show by storm. Austin must have been sure they had backed a winner. Especially, since the convertible model came with all mod cons. As well as the power-hood and -windows, the A90 boasted an Ecko radio, adjustable steering-wheel and heater. As early as '51, though, it was the end of the road for the convertible. The saloon followed suit in '52. And that was it for the Atlantic. For all of the 'special relationship', there are some things the UK and US do differently. The Austin A90 Atlantic was, in many ways, an admirable British automobile. But - to crack the States - four cylinders were just never going to be enough!

Ferrari Daytona

Ferrari Daytona 1960s Italian classic sports car

The Ferrari Daytona was launched in '68. Those in attendance were probably expecting a mid-engined equivalent of the Lamborghini Miura. If so, they were wrong. The Daytona on display that day was a front-engined GT car. Designed by Pininfarina, it was in the traditional sports car mould. A multi-tube frame, for example, supported a steel shell.

Despite its relative orthodoxy, the Daytona was still the fastest road car on the planet. Flat out, it was good for 174mph. Its V12 motor meted out 352bhp - via a manual 5-speed 'box. Capacity was 4,390cc. Dampening down performance was weight. The Daytona had a lot of it to lug about. 3,530lb, in all. Saying that, the weight was at least evenly distributed. Rearward positioning of the gearbox/trans-axle unit helped counterbalance the frontal mass of the engine. Wishbone and coil suspension - on a firm anti-roll setting - provided plenty of traction. A tad difficult around town, the more the Daytona was given its head, the better-behaved it became. Steering lightened up nicely. Road-holding grew increasingly precise.

For a car of its class, the Daytona's interior décor was far from lavish. Electric windows, contoured leather seats and air conditioning, though, did come as standard. Only 1,426 Daytonas were built. Overall, however, it was a success in the showrooms. Of course, the car was christened after the legendary American race-track. Ferrari had picked up many a win at The Daytona Raceway, over the years. So, it was a fitting name for what would become one of the most celebrated of Ferrari sports cars.

Sunbeam Tiger

Sunbeam Tiger 1960s British classic sports car

The Sunbeam Tiger was an Anglo-American hybrid. Built in West Bromwich, England, its roots were in Detroit, Michigan. Aptly, then, Rootes was Sunbeam's parent company! At least, until Chrysler took it over. In essence, the Sunbeam Tiger was a Sunbeam Alpine - but with a Ford V8 fitted. Carroll Shelby - he of AC Cobra fame - did early development work on the Tiger. Shelby then passed it to Rootes. The car's 4.2-litre engine was hooked up to a 'top loader' 4-speed gearbox. In turn, a more substantial final drive was installed. The body shell, too, was beefed up. But - with so much on its plate - Rootes was over-stretched. It still had the Sunbeam Alpine in production, too. Riding to Rootes' rescue came Jensen. Their premises were but a stone's throw away from Rootes' factory gates. It fell to Jensen to finish the Tiger project.

Power output for the Tiger was 164bhp. Top speed stood at 117mph. 0-60 came up in 9.5s. Torque - from the Ford V8 - was plentiful, to say the least. Care, though, was required in transferring it to the tarmac. Both steering and suspension were 'suspect'. But - all in all - the Tiger was good value for money. Americans bought it in their droves. British buyers did the same. However, they had to wait a year longer.

So, it was looking good for the Sunbeam Tiger. Until Chrysler's buy-out of Rootes! Chrysler's top brass took an immediate dislike to the car - mainly, on account of its V8 motor. It was, after all, made by Ford! Which would have been fine - had Chrysler had their own V8. Actually, they did. Unfortunately, it did not fit! Sadly, that was the writing on the Tiger's wall. But, all was not lost! Rootes had already built 571 MkII Tigers - complete with 4.7-litre Mustang motors. The Sunbeam Tiger was set to stroll into a few more sunsets yet!

KTM Adventure 990

KTM Adventure 990 2000s Austrian sports bike

The KTM Adventure 990 was made in Austria. Produced between 2006-13, it was designed to be dual-purpose. The Adventure was equally at home both on and off road. At least, that is what the marketing men said! Its engine - the LC8 liquid-cooled 4-stroke 75° V-twin - was tailor-made for rough terrain. Power output was 105bhp. Capacity was 999cc - to be precise. With a dry weight of 461lb, the Adventure maxed out at 123mph - on flat tarmac!

R & D for the Adventure was the Paris-Dakar Rally. Lessons learned from that hotbed of competition trickled down to the roadster. Probably not too much pre-release testing was needed after that! The Adventure's long-travel suspension came courtesy of Dutch masters WP. The flexible tubular steel frame was almost identical to that on the 950 desert racer. So, indeed, were many other parts. Fabrizio Meoni sat tall in the saddle. He won two of the three Paris-Dakars preceding the Adventure's release. Not a bad sales pitch!

Styling-wise, the Adventure was supermodel svelte. But, a model that packed a punch! At 6,750 rpm, no less than 100 N-m of torque was on tap. And - thanks to its chromium-molybdenum trellis frame - the Adventure rolled with the punches, too. Anything that less than snooker-table smooth green lanes could throw at it, anyway! As far as all-round capabilities go, then, the KTM Adventure 990 was about as kitted-out as a motorbike gets!

BMW 3.0 CSL

BMW 3.0 CSL 1970s German classic sports car

The 'L' in BMW 3.0 CSL stood for Lightweight. It was a vital attribute. After all, the CSL was built to homologate BMW's 6-cylinder coupé - for European Touring Car Group 2 racing. To that end, the list of the CSL's super-light parts was a long one. There were skinny body panels, a fibreglass back bumper, and racing latches on the bonnet. In addition, the CSL had Plexiglas side-windows, and alloy-skinned opening panels. Interior trim, too, was grist to the weight-losing mill. In all, 400lb was shaved off the base model. Top speed for the super-svelte CSL was 135mph. Acceleration had sky-rocketed.

To accomodate the CSL's added 'grunt', BMW stiffened the suspension. Bilstein gas shock absorbers featured state-of-the-art progressive-rate springs. Alpina wheels were chunky 7″ alloys. Chrome wheel-arch extensions kept things street-legal. The first CSLs came with a 2,958cc engine. It was normally-aspirated - making 180bhp. In '72, BMW took the bore out to 3,003cc. That qualified the coupé to compete in the 3-litre Group 2 series. Output was upped to 200bhp. Bosch electronic injection was fitted - replacing twin Zenith carburettors.

Up until '72, CSLs were left-hand drive. But, that year saw a right-hand drive option released in the UK. Described as the 'RHD City package', the car had performance and comfort in abundance. For this model, BMW restored most of the weight-saving features they had so painstakingly removed. Some British buyers still managed to find fault. They found the Scheel bucket seats difficult to get into. And the light alloy panels - still part of the bodywork - were too prone to accident damage, they said. Nor was the CSL's price tag to every Brit's taste. Both an Aston Martin and Jensen set them back less. To be fair, only 1,095 cars were sold globally. Ultimately, though, the BMW 3.0 CSL was an 'homologation special'. Certainly, the CSL racing coupés went on to be a roaring success!

Lamborghini 350 GT

Lamborghini 350 GT 1960s Italian classic sports car

The 350 GT was Lamborghini's first production car. It was launched in March, '64. Touring - Italian coachbuilders extraordinaire - were tasked with styling it. Headquartered in Milan, Touring's brief was based on the Lamborghini 350 GTV prototype. Bodywork comprised alloy panels. They were hung on a Superleggera steel frame. The 350 GT's light body was key to its top speed of 152mph. The solid round-tube chassis was supported by coil spring and tubular wishbone suspension. Girling disc brakes stopped the plot.

Gian Paulo Dallara - alongside Giotto Bizzarini - engineered the GT. Power was supplied by the trusty Lamborghini V12. The crankshaft of the quad-cam 60° motor was machined from a single billet. 280bhp was duly produced. The V12 was fed by side-draught carburettors. That, in turn, led to a rakishly low bonnet line. Capacity was 3,464cc. The 5-speed transmission - and steering box - were by ZF. The rear diff' was by Salisbury. Fast, smooth and tractable, the 350 GT handled superbly. So - with both the form and function of their first model sorted - it seemed Lamborghini was off to a flyer!

The 350 GT was eminently user-friendly. There was, for example, a synchro-mesh reverse gear. The cabin was a chic and comfortable place to be. Just 143 cars were built. Exclusivity, then, was part of the package. Of course - in terms of sheer glamour - the 350 GT falls short of Lamborghini's supercars. But - as an opening sports car shot - it had all the allure and panache that would become so synonymous with the marque.

Ferrari F50

Ferrari F50 1990s Italian sports car

How to top the Ferrari F40? Well, with the F50, of course! While the former was focused solely on speed, the new car offered more by way of creature comfort. Even so, the F50 was far from luxurious - given that it was a supercar, retailing at £330,000. There were leather seats, though, for starters - of course, cast from carbon-fibre. And, the front suspension spring/damper set-up was transverse - allowing extra leg-room. The F50's ride was smooth, considering its performance stats. They were upped by a 'firm' computerised damping system. A V12 engine - and 6-speed gearbox - gave up tractable power. Precise steering was provided by titanium uprights, magnesium wheels and all-metal ball joints.

So, with a top speed of 202mph - and lightning-quick reflexes - the F50 was, effectively, a road/race hybrid. Its 5-litre motor made 521bhp. The 5-valves-per-cylinder V12 had its roots in F1 - in 1990's Ferrari 641/2. Saying that, peak revs for the road car were 8,500rpm. Rather less than the 14,000 for the GP car! Still - with chain-drive spinning its quad overhead camshafts - the sound from the roadster was still pretty ear-splitting! By contrast, the F1 car's engine used gears.

The Ferrari F50, then, was technically awesome. Naturally, it needed styling to match. Up to the plate stepped Pininfarina. The esteemed Italian design house unveiled a feast of tastefully-placed lines. Ducting was particularly delicious. Cowled projector headlights lit up the front-end. Inside, the LCD instrument panel was straight out of F1. A 'black box' flight recorder was included! Track days beckoned - brakes and suspension both being race-derived. 349 Ferrari F50s were built. All they needed was a road with enough scope!

Ferrari F40

Ferrari F40 1980s Italian sports car

The F40's name referenced forty years of the Ferrari marque. It was boss Enzo Ferrari's brainchild ... but, even he had to get board approval! Once given, the project was passed to Pininfarina. The doyen of Italian design agencies had a longstanding relationship with Ferrari. Just a year passed for the F40 to go from concept to production. It helped that it was based on the Ferrari 288 GTO. Theoretically, then, the F40 was a roadster. Practically, though, it required little modification to go racing. In large part, that was down to its weight - or lack of it. For a car that cost $275,000, there was a notable lack of luxury. Indeed, the cabin verged on the spartan!

The F40's low weight was down to its bodywork. Composite materials had been used to fashion it. They were 20% lighter than their metallic counterparts would have been. That - and minimal interior décor - meant the F40 weighed in at just 2,425lb. Add a 288 GTO V8 engine - and the result was explosive! The 3-litre twin-turbocharged set-up was fitted with sequential ignition and fuel injection. There were silver/cadmium con-rod bushes and nicasil-coated liners. Grand total - 478bhp. 'Competition mode' threw in a further 200bhp, if needed.

The F40 topped out at 201mph. 0-60 arrived in 3.9s. On its '87 launch, it was the fastest road-going Ferrari yet. It stayed in production until '92. Even the standard version featured a raft of competition parts. It had Group C brakes, 3-piece wheels and removable rear bodywork. Oh, and soft fuel cells. The racing pedigree of the Ferrari F40 was clear to see!

Iso Grifo

Iso Grifo 1960s Italian classic car

The Iso Grifo was exclusive. In ten years, a mere 504 were built. Styled by Bertone, the Grifo was rooted in the Rivolta GT. Giotto Bizzarrini - ex-Ferrari engineer - shortened the latter's chassis. That added agility to the base model. It was then passed on to Bertone. With that sort of pedigree, Iso were ready to take on Ferrari!

Time, then, to add some speed to the mix. Enter the Chevrolet Corvette. Well, its engine, anyway. The American V8 imparted some serious 'grunt' to the Grifo proceedings. It probably did not please European purists. But, for drivers content with beautiful bodywork - plus muscle car oomph - things were bubbling up nicely. The top-spec Grifo came with the 7-litre version of the Chevy V8. That made it good for 170mph. It hit 70 in first gear alone. 390bhp was duly unleashed. Bizzarrini's reduced wheelbase helped transmit power to tarmac. Wisely, Iso had fitted a full set of disc brakes!

As it turned out, the Grifo did indeed go toe to toe with Ferrari - in the form of the Daytona. The Maserati Ghibli, too, was given a real run for its money. For a small outfit like Iso, that was some achievement. Sadly, financial woes would plague it, in years to come. The fuel crisis - in '74 - finally sealed the firm's fate. By then, though, the Iso Grifo had already established itself as a thoroughbred Italian sports car!

Lotus Europa

Lotus Europa 1960s British classic sports car

For all its power, the Lotus Europa was a sports car - not an F1 car! Yet - at least, up to a point - that was its raison d'être. Colin Chapman - head man at Lotus - wanted a roadster that handled like a racer. At any rate, he sought to simulate the mid-engined layout - now de rigueur in F1. Certainly, at just 42″ tall - and with a drag coefficient of only 0.29 - the Europa's aerodynamic credentials were never in doubt.

The new car started out as the Lotus Europe. Trademark problems led to it being re-named the Europa. Handling-wise, the car was everything Chapman had hoped for. Road-test reviews were upbeat - at least as far as cornering was concerned. Steering was light - and the Europa perfectly poised. Key to the stability was rear suspension. It was comprised of lower wishbones and transverse top links. The Europa's laid-back driving position made sweeping through bends a breeze. Brakes were suitably solid.

But, the Europa was not without flaws. Creature comforts were in short supply. And, with a heavy clutch - and jarring ride - the Europa was far from user-friendly. Side-window gremlins did not help. Rear vision - or lack of it - was not exactly a selling-point. To be fair, Lotus did address the issues. The Europa was given a mini-makeover. Built in Hethel, Norfolk, the car stayed in production until '75. Almost 10,000 Europas were built - in a nine-year run. Its goal, then, was to bring F1-style handling to the roads of the UK. And - while that was, for a sports car, an impossible dream - it came as close to living it as any!

Ferrari 275 GTB

Ferrari 275 GTB 1960s Italian classic sports car

The Ferrari 275 GTB was not just beautiful to behold. It hit the technological sweet spot, too. Superlative suspension, for example, was brought to the Ferrari party - in a way not previously seen or felt. The result was a car which looked like $1m - and had handling to match. And, for once, the Ferrari engine - an alloy 60° V12 - was not the centre of attention. It was trumped by the transmission. For optimal weight distribution - and top traction - motor and gearbox were separate entities. The two were joined at the hip, on early models - by a slender prop shaft. Later, a stiffer torque tube did the job. Double-wishbone rear shock absorption had now been added to the mix. The 275 GTB was thus uniquely positioned to make the most of its 280bhp output. That came courtesy of a single-overhead-cam engine. 150mph was on tap.

Technical excellence was topped only by styling. Pininfarina did the design work. The steel body was coachbuilt by Scaglietti. They were based but a stone's throw from Ferrari HQ. That was in Modena - a town with near-mythical status among the marque's fans. Scaglietti fitted a multi-tubular frame - in familiar Ferrari fashion. The Borrani wire wheels sported a set of 'knock off' spinner centre hubs. A sporty 2-seater coupé, the GTB's exterior was pure Berlinetta. The interior did not disappoint, either. Its finely-crafted focal point was the wooden Nardi steering-wheel.

Launched in '64, there would be several versions of the GTB. '65's Series Two sported a longer nose and smaller air-intake. For '66, the quad-cam GTB/4 came with six carburettors - as well as dry-sump lubrication. The wind-in-your-hair model - the GTS - was aimed squarely at America. Just 200 GTBs were made. The GTB marked the point at which Ferrari began transcending mere beauty - to deliver on every level. Of course, the perfect Sixties roadster does not exist. The Ferrari 275 GTB, though, probably came as close as any!

Indian Four

Indian Four 1940s American classic motorcycle

The Indian story started in 1901 - in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. It continued until '42 - and the outbreak of the Second World War. Originally called Hendee, the Indian Motocycle Company came into being in '23. And, no, that is not a typo! One of Indian's most iconic machines was the succinctly-named Four. As the name suggests, its engine sported four cylinders. They were arranged in a longitudinal inline-four configuration.

Top speed for the Four was 90mph. Pretty quick, in the early Forties. The Four's side-valve set-up - 2 per cylinder - gave 40bhp, at 5,000rpm. The longitudinal layout meant overheating could be an issue, though. Cooling air struggled to find its way to the rear pots.

The Four looked every inch the classic American motorcycle. The fenders' rakish lines were pure Indian. Certainly, the bike had nailed down the 'laid-back' custom look. Styling-wise, the solo saddle, front forks and straight exhaust perfectly complemented the downward diagonal of the top frame rail. Comparisons cannot help but be made with arch-rival Harley-Davidson. But - complete with its in-line motor - the Indian Four was every bit as glamorous as a motorbike from Milwaukee. V-twin fans may conceivably disagree, of course!

Hudson Commodore

Hudson Commodore 1940s American classic car

Founded in 1909, Hudson was a middling motor car manufacturer. Up until '48, that is. Which is when their Step Down models were launched. Overnight, Hudson became a byword for 'cool'. Even the bottom-of-the-range Pacemaker was sought-after. The Commodore was coveted!

Hudson's design department had worked overtime. Either that, or something had suddenly clicked. The curves of the Commodore's bodywork revealed a new set of shapes. They would dominate car styling through the Fifties. In particular, the Commodore's 'low-rider' profile was ahead of the game. It was enabled by Monobilt - a unitary-construction process Hudson had developed. The Commodore's floor-pan was beneath the chassis. So, occupants literally 'stepped down' into the cabin. But, Monobilt was more than merely pleasing on the eye. It was safer, too. Passengers were surrounded - and, indeed, protected - by a robust perimeter frame.

As 6-seater saloon cars go, the Commodore was pretty quick. The 8-cylinder engine version produced 128bhp. That made it good for 93mph. Half a million Commodores were duly sold. But - sadly for small car companies - the automotive sharks were circling. Firms like Hudson were small fry, compared to the bigger fish in Detroit's pool. With Ford, GM and Chrysler as rivals, it had always been on the back foot. In '54, Hudson bowed to the inevitable and merged with Nash - simply to stay afloat. By then, though, it had had its day in the sun. Hudson's Step Down cars - most notably, the Commodore - were stylish, functional, fast and safe. What was not to like?

Lotus 56B

Lotus 56B 1970s British F1 car

The 56B was another example of Lotus pushing motor racing's technical envelope. Saying that, boss Colin Chapman knew no other way. Powered by a turbine engine, it was a new first for F1. Said motor was supplied by Pratt and Whitney. The car had its genesis in Indianapolis, America. Lotus had entered the STP-Paxton turbo car in the '67 Indy 500. It performed well. Driver Parnelli Jones would have won the iconic race - had he not broken down, just yards from the flag. Nothing daunted, Chapman returned to Indy in '68. With backing from STP's Andy Granatelli, Chapman hired Maurice Phillipe to design the Lotus 56. Sadly, Chapman was to experience an unpleasant case of déja vu. Pilot Joe Leonard again broke down, with victory as good as in the bag.

Shortly after Lotus' streak of bad luck, American motorsport banned turbine-powered cars. Chapman decided it was time for F1. Sticking with the turbine power the 56 had pioneered, the 56B was readied for the '71 season. Lotus had intended to unveil the new car the previous year. Tragically, the death of driver Jochen Rindt - at Monza - upset the 56B's development schedule. In due course, however, it rolled onto the grid at Brands Hatch - for the Race of Champions. Emerson Fittipaldi was at the wheel. It did not go well. The 56B bottomed out so much, the suspension snapped. Subsequently, it crashed out at Oulton Park. Next stop Silverstone - and the International Trophy. The 56B started on the front row. In the first heat, the suspension again gave up the ghost. Second time out, though, Fittipaldi finished third. Things were finally looking up, it seemed!

Thankfully, these early outings were non-World Championship events. F1 'friendlies', so to speak. The 56B's first race that mattered was the '71 Dutch GP. Driver Dave Walker started from the back of the grid - on a wet track. By the fifth lap he was up to tenth - notwithstanding turbine throttle lag. Sadly, it was not to last. Walker slid off the track - at the Tarzan hairpin. Next, to Monza - a year on from Rindt's fatal accident. The 56B placed eighth. At Hockenheim - albeit in another non-championship race - Fittipaldi finished second. And that was pretty much it for the Lotus 56B. In truth, its points tally was unremarkable. What fascinates aficionados, though, is that it was the first of F1's fabled 'turbo cars'!