Jenson Button and the Radford Lotus Type 62-2 track tests
The concept of coachbuilding might have been lost for a few decades, but it’s back in full force on today’s automotive market, many of the big constructors offer their clients the option of creating a very personal car, Sur Mesure from Bugatti for instance, or the Mulliner department at Bentley, and naturally Coachbuilt from Rolls Royce, but back in the mid-20th century there was Radford in the UK, founded by Harold Radford who created a unique 1951 Bentley Countryman, an estate car like the world hadn’t seen yet, with the best specifications possible at that time.
Radford also created 12 Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake versions, and the one-off Ford GT40 prototype fiberglass body was also from his hand, unfortunately, by 1966 the company went into liquidation only to be resurrected 55 years later by car designer Mark Stubbs was able to acquire the Radford name and start working on Project 62, a new Radford car limited to just 62 units.
Project 62 is a mid-engined, two-seater using Lotus technology to recreate a classic race car for the modern world, styling for this new Radford was inspired by the iconic Lotus 62 project from the late 60s, but in true Radford style, the new Project 62 would be coachbuilt, luxurious, and exclusive, and at the 2021 edition of Monterey Car Week, at The Quail, we finally saw the first completed car … the Radford Gold Leaf Type 62-2 Quail Lodge edition.
And things got even more exclusive, remember Radford will only build 62 units of this new classic, but only 12 will be Gold Leaf models, alongside these you’ll have the option of a ‘Classic’ and a ‘JPS’ version, the Classic version comes with a Twin-scroll supercharged 3.5 liter V6, 24 valves, dual VVT-i, water-cooled engine delivering 430bhp, in the Gold Leaf this engine gets upgraded piston, con-rods, camshafts, and a different calibration to boost power to 500bhp, but the most powerful version will be the JPS which adds a Harrop TVS1900 Supercharger to increase power even further to a total of 600bhp.
Clearly, the JPS edition would be the flagship model, not only more powerful but also with different wheels and a more aggressive aero styling, it would be mid-September 2021 at the Goodwood Revival until we say this black and gold car in real life, the Radford Type 62-2 John Player Special, again limited to 12 units just like the aforementioned Gold Leaf model.
This stunning, legendary black and gold color scheme was inspired by the bodywork of the Lotus Type 72D driven by Emerson Fittipaldi, achieving five victories and even the coveted championship victory in the 1972 Formula 1 season. Lotus would keep using this beautiful black and gold livery on their Formula 1 car right up to the 1986 series, the Lotus 98T driven by legendary Ayrton Senna even boasted this legendary look, the John Player Special livery was the epitome of the most glamourous era of motor racing in the Seventies.
At the time of writing the final testing on the pre-production version of the Radford Type 62-2 is ongoing, first deliveries of this modern-day classic are foreseen for Q2 2022, and with F1 World Champion Jenson Button doing the dynamic testing on the track, I’m sure this car will perform brilliantly once clients receive their bespoke build, as each of the 62 units will be specifically built for their respective owner.
Jenson Button: “To finally drive the type 62-2 for the first time was obviously a very special moment, the cockpit already feels like home! The car felt great, well balanced in high and low-speed corners, and ran faultlessly all day which is the perfect base for the months of setup tweaking that will follow for me. We want to ensure that this car is a pure driver’s car that pays both due respects to the DNA of Lotus but also delivers the luxury of a Radford.”
We already know the Radford Type 62-2 is a mid-engine two-seater coupe based on Lotus technology but comes with a lot of upgraded performance parts, rolling on an adjustable coil-over suspension with a 6-speed transmission, thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber for the body and interior, the overall weight is less than 1,000 kgs with a 600 bhp power output.
During these dynamic testing on the track, the Type 62-2 JPS set some impressive figures, while the top speed is electronically limited to 186 mph (300 km/h) the acceleration from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) took just 2.9 seconds, after 8.4 seconds the speed was 124 mph (200 km/h), while the driving experience behind the wheel is very engaging yet refined inside this analog sports car.
Clive Chapman, Managing Director of Classic Team Lotus and son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman stated: “Seeing this modern Radford Lotus Type 62-2 in action on the Hethel track today has been really very special. The way it has taken the spirit and legacy of the original Type 62, combined it with the iconic JPS livery, and revived it for the modern-day sportscar enthusiast is an admirable achievement.”
Customers are already working together with Radford on configuring their new Type 62-2 as we speak, with the first cars being effectively leaving the factory gates in 2022, there is no mention on how many build slots of the 62 units are still available, more specifically for the even more limited 12 units of the Gold Leave model and JPS version.
It is clear that Radford intended this car as a track car, when you buy one of the 62 units you are eligible for a one-day track event to be held by Radford after all 62 units are delivered where you’ll be able to get your own car onto the track together with Jenson Button who will advise you on how to get the most out of this intriguing, classic-looking 2022 sports car, while you are seated in some amazing looking bucket seats, complete with multi-point harness seat belts.
With 600 hp available in a car that doesn’t even put 1,000 kgs on the scales, I’m sure these will be very impressive on the track in capable hands, I can’t wait to see one of these in real life at the next track-day.