Clark, Ickx, and Graham Hill tore it up in this 1966 Lotus Cortina

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1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works 3/4 front Silverstone Auctions

There’s nothing inherently sporty about a Ford Cortina. It’s a handsome car, I’ll give it that, but it certainly does not strike me as the type of car to take the racing world by storm. It would take a major shot in the arm to make its 50-horsepower engine a viable competitor on the track. Right? Enter Lotus.

Lotus teamed up with Ford to develop a twin-cam cylinder head for the Kent four-cylinder in 1961, and two years later—with a 1.6-liter engine and a host of suspension modifications—the Lotus Cortina was born. Ford, in concert with Lotus’ Colin Chapman, built 1000 units for Group 2 homologation. They birthed a racing juggernaut.

The first use of a Lotus twin-cam Kent engine on the track was in a Lotus 23 driven by Jim Clark, who was a fierce driver when behind the wheel. He was the first driver to pilot the 1966 Lotus Cortina, registered as PHK 614D, a car with a storied history and numerous race wins and podiums as a member of Team Lotus. Its drivers included Jacky Ickx, Graham Hill, and Peter Arundell, who raced the Cortina to a third place in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1966.

1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works rear 3/4
1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works Silverstone Auctions
1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works engine bay
1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works Silverston Auctions

1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works interior view
1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works Silverstone Auctions
1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works front grille
1966 Ford Cortina Lotus. Ex-works Silverstone Auctions

After PHK 614D left Team Lotus, its race success continued as it moved to Africa and had two different owners before Cedric Selzar—a former Lotus race mechanic—purchased the car, brought it back to England, and restored it to its original race condition.

Silverstone Auctions will offer the car at its Autosport International Sale on January 12. Pre-auction estimate is $230,000–$255,000, which might seem high if you were to check the value for a production 1966 Lotus Cortina, but remember this is a Team Lotus race model with quite an extensive history.

After all, how much is it worth to grip the same steering wheel and shifter as Jacky Ickx and Graham Hill?

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