‘KPU392C’ Lotus Cortina - 1965 European Touring Car Championship Winning car with Sir John Whitmore.
The Lotus Cortina offered here at Autostorico is one of the most significant competition Lotus Cortina’s of the sixties and the very car that guided Sir John Whitmore to the 1965 European Touring Championship crown. Legendary preparer and race engineer, Alan Mann, was entrusted by the Ford Motor Company to help implement their ambitious ‘Total Performance’ program preparing race cars in numerous disciplines to emphatically put the brand on the motorsport map in the sixties.
During 1964, his Lotus Cortina’s dominated the 1964 European Touring Car Championship, trouncing the opposition at Brands Hatch, Zolder and the Mont Ventoux hill climb, only to have almost certain victory snatched away when the final round at Monza was controversially cancelled. The team’s top driver with five wins, Sir John, had to be content with 2nd place overall behind Warwick Banks’ Mini Cooper S.
For the 1965 season, Alan Mann Racing used his 1964 ETC race-winning car while the recently-revised rear suspension was homologated and at the second round of the championship, the now-registered KPU 392C won at Mont Ventoux. One week later, sharing KPU 392C with Jack Sears, they won overall at the Nurburgring 6-Hour race setting a new Touring Car lap record in the rain-affected meeting. This was followed by wins at Zolder and Innsbruck. Sir John finished second overall at Karslkoga and a following win at the Snetterton 500km meant the European Championship was certainly looking on the cards. A series finale class win and second overall at Zandvoort meant that the Championship was won and Ford wasted no time letting the PR opportunities roll, diminishing rivals like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Alfa Romeo to also-rans to the superfast combination of Sir John Whitmore and the Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina’s. Ford Motorsport and Team Lotus both ran Lotus Cortina’s at the same time for luminary formula one drivers of the day but Alan Mann still engineered fractionally quicker cars.
The timeline and provenance of this most famous and historic of Lotus Cortina’s are totally complete. When the 1965 season finished, the car was despatched on a promotional tour of the Ford dealer network and subsequently purchased by Sir John Whitmore himself, owning it until 1995. During this time it was displayed at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu from 1972 until 1978. Sir John’s friend Jack Sears provided storage at his farm until the cars sale.
In 1995, KPU 392C was purchased by an American enthusiast, who had no intention of racing the Cortina, so again the originality was preserved. He was totally enthralled with the car, even inviting Sir John over to speak at a New England Lotus owners gathering and, in his possession, it travelled less than a thousand miles, mainly to car shows. He even managed to source a period-correct Pyrene fire extinguisher that had been missing for some time.
In 2013, KPU 392C returned to the UK and sold at auction to a friend of the Mann family. Today the speedometer reads only eleven thousand four hundred and ninety miles from new albeit mainly race miles.
The owner’s file is exceptional with results, Autosport articles, correspondence, and period photos showing some of the original features that clearly identify the car.
It’s not often that cars with this level of heritage come to market, making this an ideal opportunity to own a car that belonged to one of British motorsports’ all-time greats.
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