The current F1 machines of today can have their ancestry traced back to multiple different cars throughout the years, the earliest being the iconic Lotus 25 that took Jim Clark to his 1963 title, and a total of 14 World Championship wins in it's lifetime. The car was designed by Lotus head Colin Chapman, which the idea initially starting life as scrappy sketches made by Chapman while he would be out dining with Vanwall and Lotus designer Frank Costin.
Chapman promised mechanically identical Lotus 24's to his customer teams, such as Brabham and Laystall in 1962, so they were surprised to see Chapman unveiling the 25 at that year's Dutch Grand Prix. The chassis was noted for it's extremely low and narrow nature, and was powered by a Coventry Climax FWMV V8, with the 25 using between the Mk.2 1496 cc to Mk. 5 1499cc variations throughout it's lifetime. However, Reg Parnell Racing was noted for using a similar spec BRM P56 engine within their customer 25's in 1964. The 25 is also said to be one of the first cars to set the principle for today's current generation machines.
Obviously, customer teams were annoyed to receive 24's when Chapman unveiled the 25 for 1962, as Chapman declared that only the works Lotus team would be entitled to use the 25 for the year, and would be the only team allowed to alter the bodywork of the 25 itself. Legendary Scottish driver Jim Clark, a name synonymous with the team and the car,gave the car it's first win that year with victory in Spa. He followed up the win with two more victories that year in Britain and the USA, but an engine seizure at that year's season finale in South Africa forced Clark to surrender the championship to Graham Hill that year.
Clark was determined to not settle for second the following year however, as a rather dominant run for him and the 25, winning seven races throughout the year as Clark took both his and the team's first driver and constructor championship titles that year, the first of two for Clark. Chapman also brought the 25 for a test on the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the results of said test enough for Chapman to decide to plan for Lotus to compete in the famous Indianapolis 500, which him and Clark would eventually win together in 1965.
Clark wrestled the 25 to three more victories in 1964 with another convincing title bid on the cards for Clark, but fate was unfortunately about to repeat itself for Clark and Lotus. With only a lap to go at that year's finale in Mexico, an oil leak left Clark stranded by the side of the victory as Ferrari's John Surtees eventually took the title that year. The end of the 25 was also near as the replacing Lotus 33 was introduced that year. Clark went on to use the 33 to gain his second title in 1965, but would give the 25 one final hurrah that year. Engine problems for Clark throughout practice for the 1965 French Grand Prix allowed for a switch to the spare car, a 1963 Lotus 25 brought up to 33 specifications, of which Clark won the Grand Prix with.
I was lucky enough to see one of the remaining Lotus 25's in the flesh at last July's British Grand Prix and everything about it just blew me away. The open engine bay, the massive wheels and exhausts and that interior, a car that was the prime example of a sport that was for men and danger and fear did not matter in the name of speed and glory. Seven 25's were used by Clark throughout his time using the chassis, labelled R1 to R7. Sources online say that only three examples exist, but the staff member from the Jim Clark Museum who was present at Silverstone said four were still in existence, the example at the Grand Prix was still in use in historic racing as of this year.
With the iconic low-slung profile and that beautiful green paintwork, the 25 is one car that will be forever associated with Formula One in what was one of it's most golden – and most dangerous – eras. An echo of the past that still rumbles in the cars of today. A proper race car.