Focused on winning, Chapman adopted and improved upon the mid-engined layout of the successful Cooper race cars. A much simpler car than the Type 16, The Type 18 was so competitive in both Formula 1 and 2 that it was emulated by the majority of cars in those formulae. Racing with the Type 18 in Monte Carlo, Stirling Moss drove to victory at the first of many championship Grand Prix wins as driver for the Rob Walker team.
Chapman said he regarded the Type 18 as the first true Formula 1 car he had designed and built, his previous front-engined efforts being merely dabbling.
The Type 19 large capacity sports racer was developed from the basis of the Type 18 and went on to dominate its class in the USA..
Keen to maintain Lotus’ pre-eminence in Junior racing, Chapman developed the Type 20. Using the majority of parts from the Type 18 packed into a smaller body, the Type 20 mades an immediate impression on the track.
Demonstrating the typical ‘can do’ attitude of Team Lotus, in only 6 weeks the Type 21 was designed and built to compete in the 1961 Formula One season. The Type 21 was the FIRST F1 car to use a reclining driving position.It was also the first Team Lotus car to win a world Championship Grand Prix, with Innes Ireland taking first place at Watkins Glen, USA.
Lotus introduced the Type 24 with a conventional chassis at the start of the ’62 Formula One season, but it was soon eclipsed by the radical Type 25.
Abandoning all the existing conventions, the 25 was the FIRST F1 car to use a revolutionary fully stressed ‘monocoque’ chassis design, reinforcing Chapman’s reputation as a brilliant engineer. Winning four Formula 1 races in its first year, at the hands of the talented Jim Clark, just missing out on the Championship in the final race.
The Type 26 Lotus Elan was introduced and rapidly became a class leader by which other sports cars were measured. The car continued in production for 11 years due to it’s excellent design and subsequent popularity.
Chapman developed his first Indianapolis car, the Type 29. With a power to weight ratio of over 800bhp per ton Lotus proclaimed it to be one of the most, if not the most potent piece of racing machinery ever built. After leading the Indy 500 for 28 laps, Jim Clark finished in second place.
Lotus assisted Ford in winning the British Saloon Car Championship by developing and building the Type 28 Lotus Cortina.
With Jim Clark at the wheel of the Type 25, Lotus secured its first Formula One Constructors’ Championship, and the Drivers title; this was also the first Drivers’ World Championship for Clark, winning seven out of ten races. Both titles were won with an astonishing maximum points.
Lotus developed the Type 30, their first car designed for Group 7 racing. The Type 31, 32, and 33 were developed. These new cars were built for Formula 3, 2 and Tasman, and 1 respectively.
The Type 33 was an evolution of the monocoque Type 25.
Again the brilliant Jim Clark brought home another double for Team Lotus, winning both constructors’ and drivers F1 championships, this time at the wheel of the Type 33.
Clark also won the famous Indy 500 race in the USA in the new Type 38 having lead virtually from the start, averaging 150.686mph – a new record.
On the road, the Type 36 Lotus Elan fixed head coupe made its debut, the first ‘luxury’ Lotus Coupe.
It was in this year that Lotus moved to a purpose-built factory based in Hethel, Norfolk. Built on a former US Air Force base, covering 55 acres, the old runways were converted into a 2.5 mile test track which, over the years, saw the inaugural drives of some of the worlds’s finest road and race cars at the hands of some of the world’s most famous racing drivers.
The enhanced Type 45 Elan S3 drophead sports car made its debut, followed by the mid-engined Europa (Type 46) road car, whose handling received considerable praise in the press. Soon after the Europa went into production, work began on the Type 47, a Cosworth-Ford powered racing version. Jim Clark went on to be placed 2nd in the Indy 500 despite suffering from handling problems with the Type 47.
The Type 43 made its debut at Reims. It was the FIRST F1 car to use the engine as a structural member. However, the car suffered from problems with the BRM H16 engine, with only one F1 win at Watkins Glen in the USA.
The Type 49 Formula 1 racer became the FIRST car to be powered by the legendary Cosworth-Ford DFV V8 engine, a motor which went on to dominate the Formula 1 scene for over a decade. Jim Clark won the Dutch Grand Prix in the 49, and took pole position In the following 11 Grand Prix races.
The more spacious Type 50 Elan +2 went into production, with a longer chassis and different bodywork, enabling two children to be carried in the rear seats.
1968 proved to be a tragic year for Team Lotus. They were to lose the heroic and talented Jim Clark in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim on 7th April. The racing world were devastated. The black badge was introduced onto Lotus cars leaving the factory following his death as a sign of respect.
Graham Hill drove to victory winning the Constructors’ and Drivers’ titles for Lotus again.
This is the year when Chapman, ever the keen business man, introduced the FIRST commercial sponsorship onto the Formula One scene, and the Type 49 debuts the famous Gold Leaf livery of red, white and gold.
The 49 was also the FIRST use of Aerofoil wings in F1.
Lotus also launched the S2 Europa.
The new Seven S4 began production. Vastly different from its predecessor, the S4 was designed to be sold to a much wider public through an all-new dealer network. The Seven S4 is designated Type 60 and used a chassis fabricated from tubular steel with welded steel sides.
Following Europa’s success in the UK, Chapman decided to market the car in the US, meaning the car had to meet federal standards.
The Type 63 became the FIRST F1 car to use the wedge shaped front.