When I was writing Reg Parnell's biography I obviously talked to Tim about his own racing. Regarding the Lotus 18 he said ".....when I saw how good the lotus 18 was I went to see Colin Champman and told him that I would like one as they looked pretty good to me. Typically, Colin noticed a brand new one ready to be sent the next day to the USA and said ' Seeing it's you you can have that one'....to this day I dont know when that poor American guy every got his Lotus 18" That car was chassis 904 which he ran for the first time on March 26 in the Lombank Trophy at Snetteron where he finished 5th.
Gerry Ashmores 18 was 910
Many thanks for chiming in on this, your input is greatly appreciated. I did try and email you about your Reg Parnell book and whether you might be able to help on this but maybe the email address I have is wrong - perhaps you could send your contact details to me by private message?
While I don't wish to cast aspersions on Tim's memory as he can't defend himself, unfortunately what he related to you doesn't appear to align with the known facts. Chassis 18-904 was first delivered as a 1.5-litre Formula 2 car in 1960 to Reg Parnell (and there are several period references to this effect - that it was Reg's car, not Tim's). It appears to have had its first race in the Aintree Trophy Formula 2 race at Aintree on 1st August 1960, with Geoff Duke driving. Duke drove it in the Vanwall Trophy Formula 2 race at Snetterton on 6th August, the Kentish 100 Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch on 27th August, then Graham Hill drove it in the Danish Grand Prix at Roskilde on 10th/11th September, Tim raced it in the Flugplatzrennen Formula 2 race at Zeltweg on 18th September, Stirling Moss drove it in the Modena Grand Prix at Modena on 2nd October and finally Tim drove it again in the Preis von Tirol at Innsbruck on 8th October. I have photos of the car at all of these races and it is the same car throughout (although I would love to see a colour shot to see the body colour, I've only got black and whites).
A car that looks visually identical to the car entered by Reg in 1960 (I have several photos) was then taken by Reg's Yeoman Credit Racing team to New Zealand in early 1961 and competed in four races in January and February, fitted with a 2.5-litre engine, driven by Roy Salvadori. It then returned to the UK and took part in the InterContinental race at Goodwood on 3rd April, still fitted with the 2.5-litre engine, driven by Salvadori. At its next appearance, for the International Trophy InterContinental race on 6th May, again with the 2.5-litre engine, it was crashed by Mike Parkes in practice due to a broken track rod and badly damaged, perhaps written off.
In an interview with Reg Parnell in the December 1961 issue of Motor Racing magazine, he says that "At Goodwood, we also had the Lotus which we used in New Zealand; this car was crashed during practice for the Silverstone May meeting, and has not been rebuilt." However, I have a record that Yeoman Credit took delivery of a spare chassis with 'UDT-type bulkheads', eg an 18/21 chassis rather than a standard 18 chassis (therefore some time in the latter half of 1961 as this type only made its first appearance in June) so it is possible that this car was rebuilt with this chassis. My opinion is that this Yeoman Credit car, that was crashed by Parkes at Silverstone in May was 18-904.
Meanwhile, Tim appears in 1961 with a 1.5-litre car that looks very different visually to the Yeoman Credit car and competes in (or was scrutineered for) 17 races that year, including many after the event where Reg's Yeoman Credit car was badly damaged/written off and not rebuilt. It is this car that I do not know the origins of but for reasons I've outlined above, I do not think it can be 904. If you ore anyone else has a good photo of Tim's car at Snetterton in March, I'd be very interested to see it as I only have a far off shot which simply confirms it was a standard, slab-sided 18.
Where I could potentially get a little bit excited is the part of Tim's story that he told to you about him having a car due to go to the US the next day. There were no Formula 1 18s sold to the US in 1961 but he could have meant 'go to a US customer' because Lucky Castner of Camoradi did have one, possibly two 18s in 1961. I've always been a bit puzzled by something I've seen which refers to a F1 18 being cleaned and tidied up ready for collection by Lucky Castner in December 1960 and yet by all accounts Bob Wallace was still building the team's 18 in the transporter on the way down to the meeting at Pau on 3rd April 1961... So I suppose it is possible that Tim had a car originally intended for Castner.
It all depends on the timing of this incident Tim refers to, because a car was also ordered by Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby and made its first appearance at the US Grand Prix on 20th November 1960, so I suppose it could have been this one instead but the timing feels wrong seeing as Tim only did his first race with his car in March 1961. Of course, the 18 was first introduced at the Boxing Day Brands meeting in 1959, so there is a quite a window of time when Tim could have seen how good the 18 was and gone to see Colin Chapman as described. It is further complicated(!) by the fact that Tim took delivery of a Formula Junior Lotus 18 in 1960, first appearing at the International Trophy meeting at Silverstone on 14th May, so this whole story could perhaps have related to a Formula Junior 18 not a Formula 1 18 and him having a car that was due to go off to a US customer!
I think the only thing that is going to solve this would be a period document (such as an invoice) or some kind of reference to him having taken delivery of the car in a period magazine. Do you know if Tim was a member of a local car club or anything like that. I'm thinking that it might have been news that a member had taken delivery of a F1 car and could have been worthy of mention in a club newsletter or magazine? I suppose also a Derby local newspaper might have covered it.
Finally, I do not think that Gerry Ashmore's car can have been 910. I have a period document which talks about its preparation and shipment in November 1960 to a named customer (not Gerry). Gerry was entered for the Lombank Trophy at Snetterton on March 26th but was a DNA because the build of his car was not finished. He collected the car from the works three days later and his first race with it was the Preis von Wien at Aspern on April 16th. I spoke to Gerry on Friday and he confirmed that he had the last car off the production line.
My thanks to Mark Whitelock, Lotus 18 book author, for his help on researching some of this information.