Sir John Whitmore’s Championship-Winning Ford Lotus Cortina Heads To Auction At Silverstone Classic
It’s not exaggeration to say that this is one of the most significant racing touring cars you’re likely to see available at auction, linked as it is with one of the most extraordinary figures to have blessed motorsport. The very Ford Lotus Cortina that Sir John Whitmore took to the 1965 European Touring Car Championship crown is going under the hammer at the Silverstone Auctions sale on July 26-28 this year at Silverstone Classic. It is estimated to bring in between £190,000 and £220,000.
The late Whitmore, who died in 2017 aged 79, has legendary status both within and well beyond motorsport. The popular baronet began racing in 1958 with a Lotus VI then reached for the stars the following year after upgrading to an Elite, winning 12 races from 15 starts. He would go on to lift the 1961 British Saloon Car title in a Mini, BTCC’s forerunner championship. and show pace in Formula Junior. Whitmore then was crowned European Touring Car Champion with this Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina in ’65, yet retired from racing the following season aged just 26, having felt he’d proved everything he needed to. Goodwood Revival appearances decades later though demonstrated that his speed had barely dimmed in the interim.
And emphasizing that he is far from a run-of-the-mill character, Whitmore after motor racing went on to develop a keen interest in transpersonal psychology, which led to him being a pioneer in business coaching and, among other achievements, co-founding the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). He also fitted in being a film director, anti-nuclear activist and newspaper columnist.
This Cortina was prepared by Alan Mann Racing and with it Whitmore won eight out of the nine rounds in class in his 1965 championship year as well as six races outright, often shattering track records. The campaign included Whitmore, paired with the great Jack Sears, winning that year’s Nürburgring 6 hour race overall and setting a new lap record. Following Whitmore’s retirement the Cortina was used by Ford for a promotional tour, before Whitmore bought the car in 1967 and kept it in his ownership until 1995. The car resided in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu from 1972 to ’78 as well as spent some time with Jack Sears on his farm in Norfolk. It was then purchased by an American enthusiast who had no intention of racing the Cortina and continued to preserve it.
In 2013 the Cortina returned to the UK to be sold at auction having covered just 1000 miles in the previous owner’s care. The current vendor, who is a family friend of the Manns, is now offering the car for sale with just 11,464 miles on the clock; mainly race miles. The history behind this car is extensively documented, with results, articles from Autosport, correspondence and period photographs.
The Cortina leads a series of racing cars heading to auction at this year’s Classic. There also will be a rare 1965 Studebaker Lark Daytona 500, estimated at £65,000 to £80,000 and without a reserve, as well as more of a clubman-specification 1998 Dare Ginetta that is being offered at £22,000 to £26,000. There also is a beautifully-prepared 1991 BMW E30 M3 2.5 Competition estimated at £75,000 to £80,000, a well-proven car in the world of rallying and touring car racing which has been painstakingly prepared to the highest standard over the last few years.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Auctions