News: This Is The Biggest Ever Gathering of John Player Special Lotus Formula 1 Cars

This Is The Biggest Ever Gathering of John Player Special Lotus Formula 1 Cars

By News Desk
January 25, 2019

Photography by David Lillywhite

How do you launch a book on the greatest Formula 1 livery of all time? Well, you bring together the most cars in that livery every seen in one place, along with some of the people who worked on them in period. That’s what you’re seeing here, 15 John Player Special livery Lotus Formula 1 cars, gathered up by Classic Team Lotus in Hethel, UK to celebrate the new book “Black & Gold, The Story of the John Player Specials”. The cars, ranging from 1970 to 1985, included examples raced by Emerson Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson, Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Elio de Angelis, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, and they were joined by legendary figures such as former Senna mechanic Chris Dinnage, now Classic Team Lotus workshop manger, long-time mechanic Bob Dance, who started out with Jim Clark, and even Mike and Anne Murphy, who ran the catering for the team (you’ll see them towards the bottom of this page, pointing up at their images on the huge banner of the team).

The new 316-page book has been ten years in the making from Coterie Press, and written by Lotus expert Johnny Tipler. In the late 1960s Tipler was working for the Stanbury Foley Organisation, a motor racing promotions company with John Player as one of its major clients. Many of the 798 images in the book are from Ian Catt, who was photographer for the John Player company in period. While Tipler and Catt collated information and images, Coterie Press publisher William Taylor gathered up a huge collection of JPS memorabilia, which also features in the book. All three were on hand at the book launch, along with Classic Team Lotus boss Clive Chapman, son of the late Lotus founder Colin Chapman.

“In the early days, Colin [Chapman] said to me ‘Have you got film in that camera? You just seem to be poncing around, going to all the best places’,” recalled Ian Catt. “If you’re listening Colin, I hope this proves that I did have film in my camera!” Clive Chapman then read out messages from former Lotus drivers Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi, with Andretti’s long note ending with “Without you, my 1978 World Championship wouldn’t have been possible”. As for Fittipaldi, he wrote, “The JPS Lotus 72 was the best race car I ever drove. It’s still in my mind about the song that we played when we won the championship, ‘We are the champions’.”

If you’re trying to identify the cars, along the back row facing the woods you’ve got: the Lotus 72/5, raced by Emerson Fittipaldi initially in Golf Leaf colors before it was repainted in the JPS livery; the Reine Wisell 72/6; the Ronnie Peterson 72/9 and 76/1; the Jacky Ickx 76/2; the Mario Andretti and Peterson 79/2 and Andretti’s 79/3. At the head of the line-up, next to the team truck, is the banned ground effect 88B/1, while down the other side is: the Elio de Angelis 91/5 and 91/8; Nigel Mansell’s 91/7, 91/10, 92/5 and 94T/2 and Ayrton Senna’s 97T/2.


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Bjorn HjulmandRubens FlorentinoGroup_BJack Chesnutt Recent comment authors
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Bjorn Hjulmand
Bjorn Hjulmand

In 1975, my mother gave me a 1:18 Corgi model of Emerson Fittipaldi’s 72E racer as present for my 10 years birthday. Now, more than 40 years later, I can’t recall any birthday present that has ever put a bigger smile on my face. Despite countless hours racing it on the floor, its still in mint condition. And today, it is still the most beautiful race (imo).
Is there coming photos from the summit, that could make to your poster shop?

Rubens Florentino

The 72D that gave Fittipaldi his first World Championship is, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful Formula 1 ever.
I would probably have a heart attack attending this event.


Always loved the “Special” liveries… Something about the black and gold, on those classic F1 cars really just makes it a timeless livery, since it was implemented until Lotus’ disbandment. Love this article, 10/10.

Jack Chesnutt
Jack Chesnutt

Would love to read and thumb through this book, but I’d have to sell my 911 to afford it. The book’s author, Johnny Tipler is a prolific and skilled writer, so I’m sure the text is terrific and how could the images be anything but great with the subject matter at hand. Johnny is a regular contributor to Classic Porsche and also 911 & Porsche World magazines if you are interested in his take on various cars of the rear-engine species.