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Whither Jim Clark?


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#1 SpitfireJEJ

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 18:00

First post folks so bear with me. I seem to recall an interview with Jackie Stewart some years ago(in Motor Sport I believe). He stated that he felt Jim Clark "was getting itchy feet" towards the end - i.e thinking of moving to another team. So, if he had lived, would he have stuck with Chapman or otherwise, and which team might he have chosen?

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#2 Huw Jadvantich

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 21:12

Supposing Stewart was right, I think he would have gone to McLaren. They had just got use of the DFV and had very high build standards - perhaps one of the reasons Clark wanted to move.
Bruce was a good friend to Clark and was already thinking about retirement. Looking at Hulme's race and championship results in the following months and years, with Clark in the car I think the combination of McLarens engineering nouse and easy going nature combined with Clarks natural ability Mclaren would have won the WDC around 1969-70.

#3 MCS

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 21:47

Originally posted by SpitfireJEJ
First post folks so bear with me. I seem to recall an interview with Jackie Stewart some years ago(in Motor Sport I believe). He stated that he felt Jim Clark "was getting itchy feet" towards the end - i.e thinking of moving to another team. So, if he had lived, would he have stuck with Chapman or otherwise, and which team might he have chosen?


Why on earth would Clark have had "itchy feet" with the ongoing development of both the Lotus 49 and the Ford Cosworth DFV well underway and already proving succesful..?

Having finished a frustrated third in the 1967 world championship and knowing the potential of the car/engine combination, surely the last thing he wanted to do was leave Lotus..?

I'm intrigued. What does the article say?

#4 SpitfireJEJ

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 08:59

The article (which was published at least ten years ago) says nothing on this topic other than what I have quoted. In the recent Eric Dymock biography, it was suggested that Clark had problems accepting Gold Leaf as sponsors when he detested the habit of smoking. As far as 49 development goes, certainly the car had displayed a lot of undue fragility in '67. The monocoque had to be beefed up repeatedly at the area where the rear radius rods were attached. And later, didn't Jim spin off in practice once that year, with no impact, and bend a rear radius arm? Of course with development, the 49 chassis proved its strength repeatedly - notably in the 1969 Spanish GP accidents involving Hill and Rindt - caused of course by overly fragile wings. As for Cosworth development, I have little doubt that Jim would have been well looked after by Ford no matter which team he chose - as he reputedly had been by Climax. The McLaren suggestion is interesting. I always thought Brabham might perhaps be the one. By 1969, Coopers were history, BRM's were in the doldrums and I would suggest that the never-ending politics at Ferrari would never have suited Jim's temperament.

#5 Roger Clark

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 09:24

Cosworth?

#6 Gary C

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 10:12

Don't froget, when he had his accident, he was only 18 months or so away from a Lotus 72 !!

#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 10:15

I think you just fell into Roger's carefully prepared trap Gary ..... :p

#8 Roger Clark

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 10:16

Originally posted by Gary C
Don't froget, when he had his accident, he was only 18 months or so away from a Lotus 72 !!

But via the 63. It's interesting to consider what might have happened if Clark had tried the 63. Would Chapman have believed him immediately if he'd said it was no good causing work to start on the 72 much earlier, or would Clark have adapted and prolonged the agony?

#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 11:07

And the 56, which Jimmy never raced. In fact, I don't think he ever drove either a 4WD or a turbine. What influence might that have had on the 63 and 64? Would the 58 have been developed for F2 (or even F1) had Lotus not effectively abandoned the category in the wake of Hockenheim?

#10 2F-001

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 11:18

Did Clark not actually drive the 56 at all, then? He was certainly photographed sitting in one at the March tests at Indianapolis.

#11 2F-001

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 11:27

It's hard to imagine Clark moving, at that time, anywhere that didn't have immediate prospect of a DFV, which would have been, what, McLaren or Tyrrell, or Brabham the year after? I don't know if Jack was already thinking ahead to retirement at that stage, in the same way as Bruce is suggested to have been here, but had they already focussed on Ickx for '69 hoping he was in for the long haul - their future star? I can't recall the background to Ickx's brief trip to Brabham and swift return to Ferrari.

I doubt that Tyrrell could, at that stage, have taken two non-French Drivers; which. of that group, leaves McLaren. Both the McLaren and Matra 4WD projects were dropped rather quicker than the 63, so I guess that avenue would have less of a distraction than at Lotus.

Another possibility, I suppose, would have been a new team built around him, in the manner of the proposed Herd-Rindt tie - whether that be Cosworth or someone else entirely... But wasn't Clark, by then, happier living out of the country much of the time and not being on hand for all of the testing and development? That might run counter to the prospects of a new outfit. Although I imagine McLaren would have preferred a more hands-on ever present driver too. Having said that, if you could get Clark on the books you'd probably be prepared to change almost any aspect of your working procedures!

Of the other teams, BRM didn't look to be on the rise in '68 (despite some good finishes and '69 wore rather poorer) although the prospect of Clark, later on, in a P160 is quite interesting. If he were known to be ripe for a move, all kinds of deals, projects and leverages might have been hatched - Matra selling him the idea of their self-powered future? - Nah... but this is just bringing too many "ifs" into the puzzle!

#12 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 11:47

Originally posted by 2F-001
Did Clark not actually drive the 56 at all, then? He was certainly photographed sitting in one at the March tests at Indianapolis.

Indeed. That picture's in Theme Lotus. But DCN doesn't actually say who did the testing! However, I'd forgotten Jimmy had driven a turbine in tests in 1967 - the Jack Adams Aircraft Special, which had a GE turbine in the front of a 1961 Watson frame. Must have been a bit hot for the driver ....

Parnelli Jones tested that as well.

#13 Gary C

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 13:16

I thought there was a quote in Andrew Ferguson/DCN's book 'Team Lotus at Indianapolis' from Jim in which he said after testing the 56 'I've just driven the car that will win the next Indianapolis 500.' ??

#14 David Lawson

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 17:32

Clark did drive the Lotus 56 and the STP Paxton turbine at the March 68 Indianapolis test.

David

#15 Doug Nye

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 23:40

Indeed.

During the Tasman races of 1968 Jimmy talked briefly and generally with mechanic Leo Wybrott about potentially moving on - perhaps with mechanics he trusted, like Leo - to try his hand either in another team or perhaps, Moss-like, with a car run for him alone as a private entry... All perhaps pie in the sky.

Sadly, he didn't get the chance to develop any such ideas to fruition...

DCN

#16 Hugo Boecker

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 00:13

In the book "The Story of Lotus 1961-1971 Growth of a legend" DNC said that Clark tested the turbine car just before the Barcelona F2 race and did 161mph with very little effort.

#17 Wolf

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 02:56

Doug- very interesting. I'm not sure whether he would have pursued that (surely, he must have realized the potential of 49, seeing 25 turn to 33*)- but You mentioning him and Moss made me think there wouldn't be more pleasant sight than him in Rob Walker's 'royal blue' 49 (however improbable that might sound). :love:

* and knowing what the fastest thing about Lotus monocoque was ;)

#18 santori

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 18:53

Originally posted by 2F-001
I don't know if Jack was already thinking ahead to retirement at that stage, in the same way as Bruce is suggested to have been here, but had they already focussed on Ickx for '69 hoping he was in for the long haul - their future star? I can't recall the background to Ickx's brief trip to Brabham and swift return to Ferrari.


Didn't someone (Ron Tauranac?) say that Jack would have retired if Jochen Rindt had stayed at Brabham?

#19 Doug Nye

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 20:45

Jack Brabham said that as well...

DCN

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#20 sterling49

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 22:09

I have read this thread with interest and obviously have my own views regarding my favourite driver, however one thought that always crossed my mind, it would never have happened, but wouldn't Jim have been great to watch in a 917 ;)

#21 SpitfireJEJ

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 15:13

The idea of Jim in Rob Walker's Lotus 49 going head to head with Rindt in the works car in '69 is tantalising indeed (although I have my own view as to who would have finished in front and he would not have been Austrian). However the blue Lotus strikes me as an unlikely mount. Firstly Jim would still have been saddled with Lotus fragility. Secondly, Chapman would have been put in an interesting position with regard to giving him the latest equipment on a par with his own men. Moss had suffered similarly in 1961, due I believe to Walker having a different petrol contract to Team Lotus. I think the situation at that time would have been determined by petrol contracts which in my view at least still make Brabham the most likely works team. What a hideous shame it was that we never found out.

#22 David Beard

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 18:15

Originally posted by sterling49
[B....but wouldn't Jim have been great to watch in a 917 ;) [/B]


One could argue that Jimmy (like so many of the best drivers) was much too tidy to be spectacular to the casual spectator in anything but a Lotus Cortina. In fact he was often so far in front he didn't offer much entertainment at all. I certainly can't imagine him being as loony as Pedro in the rain in the 917...

#23 sterling49

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 20:36

Originally posted by David Beard


One could argue that Jimmy (like so many of the best drivers) was much too tidy to be spectacular to the casual spectator in anything but a Lotus Cortina. In fact he was often so far in front he didn't offer much entertainment at all. I certainly can't imagine him being as loony as Pedro in the rain in the 917...


He certainly was spectacular in the Cortina, I saw him in one race at Bottom Bend (Brands) on two wheels :eek: :eek: He did this for lap after lap, although he had to pit for something, he still came out to bag the fastest lap and entertain the crowd :clap: My thinking behind the 917 was that he could have possibly had some great scraps with all of the greats in the sportscar of the day, however, yes, his trade mark was to drive away up the road in the opening laps, you are probably right. I still feel so privileged to have seen him so often in such a variety of cars :)

#24 Macca

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 20:49

Originally posted by SpitfireJEJ
The idea of Jim in Rob Walker's Lotus 49 going head to head with Rindt in the works car in '69 is tantalising indeed (although I have my own view as to who would have finished in front and he would not have been Austrian). However the blue Lotus strikes me as an unlikely mount. Firstly Jim would still have been saddled with Lotus fragility. Secondly, Chapman would have been put in an interesting position with regard to giving him the latest equipment on a par with his own men. Moss had suffered similarly in 1961, due I believe to Walker having a different petrol contract to Team Lotus. I think the situation at that time would have been determined by petrol contracts which in my view at least still make Brabham the most likely works team. What a hideous shame it was that we never found out.


Esso withdrew their financial support of Team at the end of 1967, which is why ACBC had to find Gold Leaf money; I think BP pulled out too, which may be why RRCW needed the support of his brother-in-law in 1968 after the fire.

Tyres might have been significant, if Firestone wanted to keep JC with one of their teams........

Jim was definitely unhappy with the wasted opportunity of 1967, the constant failures and reworking of the 49, and perhaps with ACBC stamping on the initiative of Jim's race mechanic Alan McCall in making bits to solve obvious weaknesses, not to mention the helicopter-blade 'wing' in the Tasman series.

ISTR an interview a young Peter Windsor did with JC at an airport that winter, where he came across as a bit disgruntled. But he'd have won in 1968, and if ACBC hadn't listened about the 63, he might have retired before getting to race Jochen in equal cars.


Paul M

#25 jj2728

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 21:08

Just thought I'd add this.

Posted Image

#26 sterling49

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 21:18

Originally posted by jj2728
Just thought I'd add this.

Posted Image


The Maestro :up:

#27 RS2000

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 21:32

Originally posted by Macca

Esso withdrew their financial support of Team at the end of 1967


And from JC himself too? Just how deep he was with Esso was brought home by a recently published photo (the only one?) of his 1966 RAC Rally Lotus Cortina shell back at Boreham before scrapping. This was before advertising was allowed but the Ford works rally tream had a Castrol contract then. The car had acquired (from its driver?) an Esso sticker on the bulkhead - under the bonnet.

#28 sterling49

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 21:57

Originally posted by RS2000


And from JC himself too? Just how deep he was with Esso was brought home by a recently published photo (the only one?) of his 1966 RAC Rally Lotus Cortina shell back at Boreham before scrapping. This was before advertising was allowed but the Ford works rally tream had a Castrol contract then. The car had acquired (from its driver?) an Esso sticker on the bulkhead - under the bonnet.


Did you get to see the car at Boreham? I watched that R.A.C. on TV in the black and white of the day and was just amazed (although should not have been :rolleyes: ) with Clark's speed. I visited Boreham in the '70's,'80's and '90's....it was like making a pilgrimage :up:

#29 Roger Clark

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 22:46

Originally posted by RS2000


And from JC himself too? Just how deep he was with Esso was brought home by a recently published photo (the only one?) of his 1966 RAC Rally Lotus Cortina shell back at Boreham before scrapping. This was before advertising was allowed but the Ford works rally tream had a Castrol contract then. The car had acquired (from its driver?) an Esso sticker on the bulkhead - under the bonnet.

The Lotuses carried Shell advertising at the 1968 South African Grand Prix.

#30 Doug Nye

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 22:46

Brian Melia was Jimmy's navigator on that RAC Rally and he told me once how Jimmy's speed of considered reaction to one or two really late calls that Brian made was absolutely astounding... They were virtually past a couple of turns in the dark forests when Brian spotted his own slight error, but almost before he could appreciate his own voice making the call the car was already being set-up and was slamming in the correct direction. It was, he said, deeply impressive...

DCN

#31 Macca

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 22:56

http://memoiresdesta...de_reims-gueux/

Picture from 1967.

Paul M

#32 RS2000

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 00:41

No I didn't see the car after the event myself, only a photo (one of the Ford photos Graham Robson tantalisingly trickle feeds to us in magazines...).
I recently tried to put JC's RAC drive in perspective elsewhere. The opinion of Brian Melia (who had been with Roger Clark in 66 on Monte and Alpine) certainly enhances JC's reputation because I firmly believe RC was at his speed peak then.
JC had practiced for the RAC under RC's instruction and the MK1 Lotus Cortina had finally become the dominant forest car (over 2 years after it should have, thanks to C. Chapman and his original rear suspension...).
Also colouring the picture was the fact that BMC used the standard camshaft in all of their massed entry of Cooper Ss, except in Makinen's (following problems in the snow in 65?).
RC dominated from the start but only lasted to the fourth stage, Vic Elford had engine problems from the start, so was never a factor. Soderstrom (never the fastest team member) won by a mile, albeit only after Makinen retired.
JC was clearly driving beyond his level of forest experience and did what might be expected - threw it off the road...twice...but then so did RC! RC and VE both in healthy cars well into the event might have left us with a slightly different perspective.
JC allegedly remained in the rally after his first off because, although the car was miles away, the time card passed through the next Time Control within the limit. Ah, those were the days - been there, done that (during a head gasket change) (and wouldn't have got away with it on most continental rallies, even then!).

#33 Ruairidh

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 01:37

Originally posted by Doug Nye


During the Tasman races of 1968 Jimmy talked briefly and generally with mechanic Leo Wybrott about potentially moving on - perhaps with mechanics he trusted, like Leo - to try his hand either in another team or perhaps, Moss-like, with a car run for him alone as a private entry... All perhaps pie in the sky.


DCN


Happy New Year all!

Was this the only time that Jim is known to have discussed leaving Team?

#34 WDH74

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 02:25

Originally posted by sterling49
I have read this thread with interest and obviously have my own views regarding my favourite driver, however one thought that always crossed my mind, it would never have happened, but wouldn't Jim have been great to watch in a 917 ;)


The idea of Clark moving to McLaren put a similar idea in my head. If I squint I can just about see that helmet sticking out of one of those orange McLaren M8s.

But I wonder if, had Clark indeed gone to McLaren for GP racing, would he have done as much driving in other formulae-like sports cars or F2, as he had with Lotus?

-William

#35 Wolf

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 02:43

WDH- but Can-Am prospects alone are worth a good 'what if' story...;)

SpitfireEJ, sponsorship conflicts, Lotus at Walker- I know (and that's why I said 'however improbable') but still it tickles my fancy. :up:

Speaking of Jimmy and other teams- I presume he only sat in a Ferrari (I can't imagine the story behind that picture), but never drove it, right?

#36 Huw Jadvantich

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 06:12

To help you imagine J.Clark in a Can Am McLaren find a picture of D.Gurney in one!
With respect to Clark going to Brabham, I had considered this initially, because Jack was talking about retiring during Rindts season with them, if not before then. He was also contracted to Repco, and I imagined that Jim could see that this relationship had had its day.
What was tantalising though was that had the Repco deal not tied Jack up, he had Honda wanting to run engines for him in F1. Judging by the Brabham Honda F2 results, Clark in a Brabham Honda F1 would probably have made every one else pack up and go home.
I still think the pragmatist in Clark would have sent him to Colnbrook (or was it Feltham then?).

#37 sterling49

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 08:28

Originally posted by RS2000
JC allegedly remained in the rally after his first off because, although the car was miles away, the time card passed through the next Time Control within the limit. Ah, those were the days - been there, done that (during a head gasket change) (and wouldn't have got away with it on most continental rallies, even then!).






Well I never would have thought! :lol: :lol: :lol:

"those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end........................." :up:

#38 Barry Boor

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 08:48

Just a personal view - but I think that by 1970 Jim would have been an ex-racing driver.

Even in those far off days I thought he would retire at the end of 1968 or maybe 1969.

#39 ian senior

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 09:10

Sorry, but I just don't see this at all. Jim was sensible enough and realistic enough to know that, while there may have been some in-built fragility in a Lotus, he would always (unless engine problems got in the way) get a thoroughly competitive car produced by a team and designer that were totally committed to his cause. They had grown up together and there was what you might call a "special relationship". I don't doubt that, like anyone, Jim may well have had some thoughts, or even words, about mixing and matching the best combination of car, engine, designer and mechanics, but basically he knew which side his bread was buttered.

What I could see happening was Jim having as serious crack at Can-Am. Ford US must have been seriously peeved at those GM-engined cars winning all the races, and I reckon they would have taken the whole thing a lot more seriously than their actual and relatively feeble performance in the series if Jim had been available and willing. If Lotus were unable to provide a decent chassis - a proper one, not some horror like the 30 - how about him setting up the small team that he envisaged, and under the management of someone he respected to free him from the administrative aggro, to produce a winning Clark-Ford Can Am car?

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#40 rl1856

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 14:42

The real question to ask is when would Clark have left Lotus ? Surely not in the middle of the 1968 season.

I am convinced that Clark, driving a Lotus 49, would have been WDC in 1968. How would that have affected his decision to leave ? Would he have left the team at that point, or would the good feeling of winning his 3rd DC have convinced him that he was stilll better off with Lotus ?

It is fun to contemplate 39 years later, but the pragmatist in me believes that Clark would have stayed with Lotus.

If Clark won the WDC in 1968, would Hill have stayed on for 1969 ? Would he have avoided his nasty accident ?

What would Stewart's ultimate record been, with Clark still around to challenge him ?

If Clark had still been around in 1968 and 1969 (and possibly beyond), would Chapman have run a 3rd car for Mario Andretti during that time ? Probably not. What effect would that have had on Andretti's entry into F-1 ?

Lots of dominos get rearranged....

Best,

Ross

#41 Hugo Boecker

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 15:52

What if ...
Clark became DC in 68 and stayed at Lotus for 49
Rindt would have stayed at Brabham
Icks had stayed with Ferrari
What happened to Hill and Surtees ? ......

#42 Manel Baró

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 14:28

Originally posted by David Beard


One could argue that Jimmy (like so many of the best drivers) was much too tidy to be spectacular to the casual spectator in anything but a Lotus Cortina. ...


Or an Aston Martin Zagato