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1966 Lotus Cortina Survivor


Before the M3, there was the Lotus Cortina. It was one of the first high-performance sports sedans built for racing and it predated the M3 by 22 years. Most were used on the track, but somehow this particular MK1 avoided the abuse so commonly doled out on homologation specials. It has been stored away for the past 25 years and appears to be very original. It is even claimed to be wearing its factory applied paint. The only problem is the price… The seller is asking $69k here on eBay.


Here’s the heart of this special machine. It is basically the same engine used in the Elan except with a little more power (105hp vs 90hp). It features dual overhead cams over a five-bearing steel block. This one is claimed to run well and sound great. We believe that last statement because these purpose built racers had a nice growl at speed.


Colin Chapman didn’t have to do much in here. A new steering wheel, shift knob, gauges, badges, and a reworked console were all the changes needed to turn this plain jane sedan into a special place to sit. There is even enough room in the back to haul kids and groceries around during the week. We bet that backseat helped plenty of men convince their wives that this was a sensible form of transportation. Little did their wives know that it wasn’t too bad at racing either.


High-speed cornering maneuvers were where this car excelled. Lotus had performed their magic on the suspension and turned these lightweight family cars into wheel-lifting corner-carvers. Just watch any video of Jim Clark in one of these things and you will know what we mean. We would love to have one, but the price puts this one off our radar. We know they are only original once, but is the premium justified here?


  1. ALMS

    2002 Turbo pre-dated the original e30 M3 by roughly half the years that Lotus Cortina did. It also sells for ~roughly half of what the seller is asking for this Cortina. While I cannot afford either, I’d take 2002 Turbo any day over Lotus! :)

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Good point. A tii wouldn’t be bad either, but there is just something special about these old Cortinas.

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  2. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    One thing that I didn’t mention is that this is an “airflow” Cortina. So named because Ford had added vents to the C pillars to aid with interior ventilation. Earlier cars did not have them (pre-airflow), so they were more raw in more ways than one. We have read that it worked even better than the system in the Mk2 cars. That fact may not be too exciting, but with the hot weather we have been having recently, any extra air flow in a car without A/C is a welcomed thing.

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  3. scot

    ~ great footage of the British Saloon Car Championship ! not a BMW in the field. ;)

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  4. Jerry

    Guys. Just curious about your statement that this car “first appeared on Barn Finds.” It appeared on BringATrailer on July 15th when it was listed on EBay the first time around. Just sayin’. And OBTW, having driven both (years ago) I’d take the LoCort over the tii any day of the week.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Who said it “first appeared on Barn Finds”? We didn’t. We also didn’t know they had posted it because their email system has been down for a while. We try to only post stuff others haven’t, but sometimes overlaps happen.

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      • Horse Radish

        He may be referring to the last line in the e-mail notification.
        It is worded somewhat confusing.

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      • jim

        i am ok with cars showing up on more then one site. i do not think a site should pass on a interesting listing just because it has been posted to another site. i also do not thinks the posters should have to spend a lot/any time searching to see if a listing has been posted on another site. not everyone reads all the sites and could miss an interesting listing. i think it is still great fun as always. thanks

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      • paul

        I agree Jim it’s not like it’s trademarked.

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      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        I see what you were referring to now. Thanks Horse Radish! Our email provider automatically added the line, “The post 1966 Lotus Cortina Survivor appeared first on Barn Finds.” They add it to every email to indicate that the original version can be found on the site. I understand the confusion now and we will see if we can get that changed. We will also keep trying to be the first to the best finds! Thanks guys.

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      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        All fixed! Thanks for bringing it to our attention Jerry.

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  5. jim

    great find. watching them race/corner with one front wheel up in the air and the backend hanging out is always fun. but for the price there is a very long list of other just as interesting cars. i also think after paying $69000 the new owner is not going to put to many hard miles on this car.

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  6. Peter R

    Jerry is correct in this case – 9 days of much discussion as to the accuracy of the claims as to originality and rust free. Also was asking for an opening bid of $69K and now willing to hear an offer. To me this is way over the top – so many cars at that price point to put this at the top of my list

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  7. sean

    Why would you want a Lotus Cortina over a tii or for that matter even an Alpina ti which would be a closer equivalent? BMW= superior suspension, power plant and handling. Cortina= antiquated suspension, under powered engine and so so handling. NO comparison!! I have owned both. Love both cars but BMW is better,

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  8. Dolphin Member

    Although I wouldn’t dream of spending $69K for this car, the connection with Chapman and Clark and the great achievements of these little sedans on the track decades ago will probably lead someone to spend that money for one, if not now then fairly soon. It looks like the claims of originality and low miles for this car are accurate, and they made only 2,894 of them, so I’m guessing the price will get there.

    That said, the BMW small sedans have far superior suspension and handling, better build quality, and cost a fraction of the ask for this car, so the BMW definitely wins out in the comparison with the Cortina. But they were made in different decades, so give this apparently original California Cortina its due—it looks like a great original car.

    Does anyone actually read that other site anymore? The last time I logged off there it felt like what I imagine it feels like when you stop banging your head against the wall.

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    • rancho bella

      I went over there last week and yep, a bunch o’ folks go there. But I grew tired of some very bad attitudes and it seems they post some cars that shouldn’t be there, perhaps Craigslist would be better?
      This group here does a nice job of policing themselves when one of us gets out of line. I prefer that.

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  9. Connor

    Love these cars. Although it wasn’t a lotus cortina, I restored a 1964 ford cortina mk 1 2 door in light blue a few years ago. I still regret selling it.

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  10. paul

    I used to see these racing around Lime Rock Park, cool.

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  11. rancho bella

    Me love you long time Locort…………but no. You want to much to entertain me, and my desire to hold your wheel is not more than my desire to have my rainy day fund earning 1.8% tax free.

    So, off you go, to be taken care of by man of means.

    Dang…….they don’t come along like this often.

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  12. Chris A.

    Ahh, Jimmy Clark at speed. He got everything out of that car that was in it plus some. The Trans Am under 2 liter Datsun was the same idea with a great engine and IRS. BMW was left in the dust by the Datsuns and Alfas. This one? Nice car, but not at that price point. But it sure would be fun on a track day.

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    • Don Andreina

      Chapman experimented with IRS on the early lotus cortina. Dropped due to cost, but Jimmy Clark was given the prototype for his daily driver. The best barn find would have to be the one bought new for the great train robbery and never used but impounded by police. Sold a few years ago for a lot of money (low mileage and all)

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  13. Webby

    65K? If the legendary Jim Clark had autographed or driven it………
    Otherwise, that 65K buys me a truckload of American cars.

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  14. Webby

    Ahh, Clark. An immortal, who died too young. I’m lucky enough to live near a race track,Lakeside, where he & other F1 greats raced in the Tasman Series.

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  15. paul

    These were cool, 59k cool, not so much, 59k buys a lot.

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