The Lotus 72/5 was revealed at the Autosport Racing Car Show in its current state where it has been partially restored alongside of another two examples of the car. This was truly one of the exhibits that was at the show and numerous show attendees and participants flocked to see the car that was originally damaged in 1973 by driver Emerson Fittipaldi.
The car has not been available for public viewing in almost 40 years and was set up as one of the featured primary exhibits at the show. Fittipaldi was one of the only drivers that had ever raced the vehicle and was brought to the National Exhibition Centre by Classic Team Lotus.
The managing director of Classic Team Lotus, Clive Chapman, says that it has been a pleasure to be involved in the intricate and detailed restoration that the car has undergone to date and he expresses his admiration and appreciation for the work of all of the people that have been involved in the work.
Only nine of these cars were manufactured and the one on exhibit is the fifth one that was produced in 1970. When it was used in its first race, it was emblazoned with white and red gold leaf and it was the same year that Fittipaldi took the top prize in the US Grand Prix.
Many victories followed for the vehicle with colours changing to JPS’s gold and black in Austrian and Italian Grand Prix events of 1972. These awards escalated Fittipaldi to the status as one of the youngest world champions ever. His career set the stage for numerous other Brazilians to follow in his footstep in pursuing racing. He went on to win at Montjuic Park in Spain in 1973 and that was the final race before the crash which occurred in the qualifying round for the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort, Holland.
The wreckage has been lying dormant in the Team Lotus stores for years until last year when the team began to focus on trying to repair it. They managed to restore much of the left hand side that was the apex of the damage and thus set about to completely restore the car. The process is not yet complete and the team is making a painstaking effort to ensure that they preserve the car’s originality, using the original drawings and relying on the Team Lotus expertise to exact the standard of the car’s days on the racetrack. Parts being used are original.
Chapman says that he is rather impressed with the level of enthusiasm that is being displayed by viewers at the Autosport Show and he appreciates that fans support the project and understand the value of the old cars.
The unveiling sadly was also accompanied by the sad news that another 1970’s racer, Brian Branson, died prior to the Autoshow. Branson was a regular at Snetterton, driving a Lotus Elan. He was looking very forward to seeing the partially restored iconic vehicle and even had plans on restoring an Elan 26R that he had recently acquired.