Alec Strachan, Lotus Mk6 Climax…

Posted: June 23, 2020 in Sports Racers
Tags: , ,

Alex Strachan was the first to import a Lotus into Australia, and as a consequence he was appointed by Colin Chapman the first of many Lotus concessionaires over the years in this country…

The car was significant enough to make the cover of Wheels magazine, Alec’s race exploits in the car commenced the long run of success Lotus had on the circuits of Australia- the marque won an Australian Grand Prix- the 1968 race at Sandown in which Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW was victorious with one Gold Star Championship hard won by Leo Geoghegan, Lotus 59B Waggott TC-4V 2 litre in 1970.

Wheels reported that Alex Strachan was the President of the New South Wales North Shore Sporting Car Club and quoted the car’s vital statistics as 72bhp from the 1100cc Coventry Climax FWA four cylinder engine, 8 cwt in weight and a top speed of 110mph.

Doug Chivas was the lucky driver given the opportunity to race the new machine, these two photographs, I love the one below with the cravat blowing in the breeze, were taken at Mount Druitt on 24 April 1956- the cars debut meeting i wonder?

Australian racer/restorer/historian, the late Graham Howard later owned this Lotus 6 for decades and wrote about it on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ during November 2004 ‘…the story in brief is this. Stan Brown who had spent some time with Williams & Pritchard before emigrating (from England to Australia), told me he built the replacement chassis for the Strachan Six after about three race meetings because the factory chassis repeatedly cracked- Strachan felt he could not sell Lotuses in Australia if his ‘demonstrator’ kept cracking its chassis.’

‘The locally built chassis used 2 inch bottom tubes because 1 7/8 inches as original was not available, likewise Stan used paired 1 inch square for the cross-member under the bellhousing and in certain places behind the seats because 2 inch by 1 inch was not available. The original panels fitted without drama and the swap was not publicised.’

‘The replacement chassis was far heavier, but it didn’t break (it twisted but didn’t break). The car therefore had most of its Strachan and subsequent history with the locally built chassis. The de Dion was production Mk 9 and in part of Strachan’s paperwork from the factory the car was actually described as a Mk 9.’

‘The original chassis was once owned by Paul Collins, was bought from him and built up into a race car by Eric Beatty, and is still running…The Viva (Vauxhall) powered car used one of Stan Brown’s own-Lotus like chassis and was completed by Bill someone from around Willoughby.’

’Stan built an unknown number and variations of these, some of them as “Slotuses” for Strachan to sell (i doubt that was in accordance with Alex’s agreement with Chappers!). They were longer and had fewer tubes. At least two of them have since become genuine Lotus Sixes. Strachan also had patterns made for the final drive case, the de Dion hubs and spiky-finned brakes and front and rear backplates, and castings were made and sold’ as per the June 1957 advertisement above.

Etcetera…

Credits…

Wheels magazine, Graham Howard, Stephen Dalton, AMHF Archives

Tailpiece…

(S Dalton)

Photograph of the ex-Strachan car during the March 2020 Australian Grand Prix carnival after Thursday afternoon’s historic demonstration, Paul O’Connor the current custodian, and cars at this particular event on the move were a very rare thing, Stephen Dalton was lucky enough to be there…

Finito…

Comments
  1. George says:

    What was the thinking behind such extreme positive camber?

    • markbisset says:

      George,
      I know nothing about the suspension geometry of these cars, nowadays we all run, pretty much negative camber on just about anything. My mate David Mottram has a very nice early 7 Climax which i’ve driven on the road.
      The 6 looks like it will understeer like crazy but they did not…
      Mark

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