1963 Lotus 23B: MUSEUM PIECE BACK ON TRACK
Some twenty years ago, at the turn of the century, this 1963 Lotus 23B looked set to rest on its laurels in a Swiss museum. That was until Brazilian historic racing car driver and collector Carlos Monteverde noticed the car. Monteverde is a double winner of the prestigious Le Mans Legend race and an avid car collector. In August of 2014 he became the owner of the most expensive car ever auctioned, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, setting a new world record at auction for any automobile. Under Monteverde’s ownership the Lotus 23B received a full restoration by Rex Woodgate at Silverstone after which it was entered in various classic racing events including the World Sports Car Masters.
The Lotus 23 was designed by Colin Chapman for FIA Group 4 sportscar racing in 1962. The two-seater open sportscar got the engine mounted amidship behind the driver. The first cars were fitted with a 750 cc Coventry Climax engine, but in 1963 the 23B received a 1.6 litre twin-cam engine from Cosworth, producing around 180 horsepower. The frame received additional structural tubes to cope with the torque and the gearbox was updated to a 5-speed Hewland transaxle. The intake funnels on the Weber carburettors received fresh air from two oval holes cut out on the top side of the rear body.
DISQUALIFICATION AT LE MANS
In 1962 the Lotus factory entered the 23 at the prestigious Le Mans race only to be disqualified because of a spare wheel which would only suit the front axle and not the rear one. The 23‘s front wheels were mounted with 4 studs while the fatter rear wheels used 6 studs. The Lotus factory had 4-stud rear wheels machined and delivered to the race track over-night, but the French federation A.S.O. deemed it unsafe to let a car race with 4-stud wheels since it was originally designed to use 6-studs. Chapman vowed to never race at Le Mans again, a promise kept by Lotus for thirty-five years. Meanwhile the 4-stud 23s built exclusively for Le Mans proved to be safe and competitive, winning endurance races at Clermont-Ferrand and Monthlery later that year.
This 1963 Lotus 23B was built as one of eleven early models. It came out of the factory in British racing green and was delivered to Belgian racing driver Jean Wauters who raced it in Europe in the sixties. In the early 1980s the car was restored by the famous British Lotus restorer Peter Denty. Before it ended up in a museum owned by Swiss car dealer and racing driver Fredy Kumschick, who used it to win the German open series twice, the car was owned by Anatole Lapin, a famous Porsche designer from France.
In 2011 the car was bought by its current owner Arthur Bruckner from Austria, an automotive entrepeneur. Bruckner started his racing career as a motorcycle racer in the Austrian national championship. In 2012 he won the Austrian Histocup in the Lotus 23B. During the TABAC Classic GP Assen Bruckner will race the car in the Youngtimer Touring Car Challenge.