Posts Tagged ‘Connaught Type B Alta’

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Cliff Allison releases his Lotus 12 Climax from the Monaco haybales on 18 May 1958, whilst teammate Graham Hill passes in the sister car…

It was a significant race for Lotus, their debut as Championship Grand Prix competitors, Allison was classified sixth and Hill’s race ended on lap 15 with engine dramas.

Coventry Climax had still not built a 2.5 litre version of their FPF 4 cylinder engine, so Lotus, like Cooper, were competing with engines of 1960cc, well below the 2.5 litre F1 capacity limit.

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Jesse Alexander’s shot captures the atmosphere of Monaco ’58, shot taken from the ‘Milk Bar’

Times of change in racing are of immense interest to those of us with an historic bent. 1958/1959 is one of those eras with the growing influence of the ‘Green Cars’ a portent of the British dominance to come. And of course Cooper showing the mid-engined path still with us today.

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Cliff Allison at Monza in 1959 (Cahier)

 

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Lotus 12 in all its naked glory at Zandvoort in 1958. It was about as small as a front engined GP car could get, ignoring the fact it was designed as an F2 car! In 1958 ’twas as modern as tomorrow and as passe as yesterday simultaneously (Cahier)

 

Note the twin dual-throat SU carbs and front roll bar double-tasking as a means of locating the upper suspension top link

Indicative of  mid-engined growing superiority was the failure of all the Maserati 250F’s entered to qualify- driven by Godia-Sales, Kavanagh, Taramazzo, Gerini, de Fillipis, Testut, Gould and the great, but ageing Monegasque Louis Chiron. Lets not forget that only the year before, 1957, Juan Manuel Fangio won the race in a factory ‘Piccolo’ 250F. And Moss also won aboard a 250F in 1956 for that matter too.

Successful British motor-cycle dealer BC Ecclestone had acquired the GP Connaughts but Bernie, Paul Emery and Bruce Kessler all failed to qualify the cars too.

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Bernie Ecclestone trying hard to qualify his Connaught Type B Alta, to no avail as was the case for his 2 teammates (unattributed)

Things were better for the Green Cars at the front of the grid with Brooks, Behra and Brabham in Vanwall VW57, BRM P25 and Cooper Climax T45 respectively. Salvadori and Trintignant were next up in Coopers, the quickest Ferrari, Mike Hawthorn, was sixth in his Dino.

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# 18 Savadori Cooper T45 Climax, # 6 Behra BRM P25, #16 Brabham Cooper T45 Climax, # 30 Brooks Vanwall VW57, winner Trintignant partially obscured behind Brabham Cooper T45 Climax, # 32 Lewis-Evans Vanwall VW57…and the rest, turn one, lap1 (unattributed)

In a race of changing fortunes Behra, Hawthorn and Moss all led but suffered mechanical failures.

Trintignant won the race in Rob Walker’s Cooper T45 Climax from Musso and Collins in Dinos. Moss’ Argentina Cooper T43 win was no ‘flash in the pan’ by any stretch…

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Moss, Hawthorn, Brabham and Trintignant. Ferrari Dino 246, Vanwall VW57 with Monaco ‘snub nose’ and Coopers T45 Climax x 2 (unattributed)

 

Graham Hill prepares for another practice lap whilst Cliff Allison looks on at left and Colin Chapman in the sunglasses at right.

The Lotus 12 was Chapman’s 1957 F2 contender powered by a Coventry Climax 1.5 litre FPF engine.

Whilst competitive the lithe, nimble, light front-engined cars took no F2 race wins that year, Allison’s second late in the season at the Oulton Park International Cup was the best result.

Fitted with 2 litre FPF’s, ‘F1’ 12’s contested the Non-Championship 1957 Glover Trophy and Lavant Cup at Goodwood and BRDC International Trophy, Silverstone as well as the 1958 Glover Trophy, BARC 200 at Aintree and the BRDC International Trophy before their Monaco Championship debut. Allison’s fourth in the 1958 Glover Trophy aboard chassis ‘357’- the same car he raced in Monaco was the best result. Graham Hill’s car was ‘353’ which has resided, beautifully restored, with Mike Bennett in Adelaide for many years.

Beautiful shots above and below by Bernard Cahier shows the minimalist nature of the Hill Lotus 12 to great effect. Greatness was to come later with Lotus of course- a championship in 1968 after a remarkable stint with BRM.

In some ways its surprising that Chapman, the great innovator, didn’t go the mid-engined route with the Lotus 16, the 12’s successor but he got the hang of the mid-engined thing rather well with the 18 which followed- a machine which was rather successful in FJ, F2 and F1 in 1960.

Etcetera…

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Photo Credits…

Jesse Alexander, The Cahier Archive, John Ross Motor Racing Archive

Tailpiece: Allison made the Lotus 12 sing…

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(John Ross)

As here at Monza 1958.

He put the car fifth on the British GP grid, well in front of Hill in the new Lotus 16, finished sixth at Zandvoort, fourth in the Belgian GP at Spa and seventh at Monza. Such were his performances he was off to Ferrari in 1959 at Enzo’s invitation

Finito…