Radford, the “global luxury automotive brand,” is back and building a Lotus. Originally started almost 75 years ago as Harold Radford & Co. Limited, a “bespoke” coachbuilder in London, the original Radford & Co. turned Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, and Astons Martin into “shooting brakes,” and produced custom Minis for the likes of Twiggy, Peter Sellers, and the Beatles. The new Radford, headlined by TV personality Ant Anstead, F1 champ Jensen Button, designer Mark Stubbs, and lawyer Roger Beale, has swapped the London of the swinging ‘60s for conservative North San Diego County, California.
The first custom-built product they have announced so far is a new take on the Lotus Type 62 that they are calling the Type 62/2. Clever name.
“Project 62 is a mid-engined two-seater coupe endowed with luxurious appointments befitting a high-end bespoke coachmaker,” Radford said in a release. “It will be sleek, elegant and cosseting but not at the expense of driver enjoyment. Created using Lotus technologies, the car will be mechanical, engaging and poised—a true driver’s car. Project 62 will be very distinctive. It will be the world’s first modern Radford.”
It will certainly be but all they released was one of those highly intriguing line drawings (see above) meant to drive interest in the coming product. There are two white swooshy lines on a black background. Regardless, it’s great to see an artistically inclined sports car venture like this, and may we offer ideas for subsequent projects?
Since Radford is a “global luxury coachbuilding brand with a British heart and soul,” projects must be based around British sports cars, so no Ferraris or Porsches. Thus, the following are all projects Radford could undertake after the 62.
Triumph made over 300,000 Spitfires between 1962 and 1980, and in many ways they were the peak of the accessible British sports car. The styling was simple yet elegant and the engine power never ran the risk of overwhelming the chassis. You could get one cheap and make it run, if you had enough mechanical inclination, patience, and money. Why not bring back this everyman’s sports car with a more reliable engine?
Yes, the later MGB and even the MG Midget might have outsold the original MGA, but this, too, had the stylish flowing lines of a great sports profile. Four cylinders fed by two carburetors never failed, except when they did, but a modern Radford-selected powertrain could solve that. If Lotus was happy using Toyota power, so, too, could Radford be.
The Jensen Healey of 1972-1976 may have had its share of mechanical challenges, but that was part of the character of the thing. It had a look that brought the rounded fenders of its predecessors into a slightly more angular ‘70s edginess. Like the Type 62, it ran on a dohc Lotus 907 four-cylinder engine and offered a five-speed transmission in some models. Back then that was really sporting.
This was a car you could drive in rallies and at track days back in the day and then use it to get home afterwards. From 1959 to 1967 the Austin-Healey was the sports car of record for club racers and anyone who felt a jaunty cap and string-back driving gloves would make them faster. Sure, the engine wasn’t actually 3000ccs, but with 2912ccs, there was power enough. Healeys could top 100 mph and get to 60 mph in almost 10 seconds. For the day, that was sporty.
Chevron built race cars, and while it might be difficult to make a race car that could be registered on US roads, the trouble would well be worth it. Just have a look at the shapes of these cars, particularly the B8, and the B16 (above). Either of those could hold their own against anything from Italy or Germany in the looks department and did well in many a race. You can see elements of the Ferrari LM, Porsche 904, and even a truncated Ford GT40, if you look hard enough. And if you couldn’t register it for the street, Radford has its own track in Chandler, Arizona, where you could wring your Chevron out whenever you liked.
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