Lotus ‘Breadvan’ Ex-Goodwood
- Unique Lotus XI inspired by Ferrari ‘Breadvan’
- Highly competitive race car with Goodwood Provenance
- Developed by racing driver Graham Capel in period with the support of Colin Chapman
- Built by Neil Twyman with the assistance of Graham Capel
- FIA HTP and eligible for numerous historic events
- UK road registered
According to legend, the creator of the Lotus ‘Breadvan’, British racing driver Graham Capel, had seen how successful the Ferrari Breadvan was that he decided to apply the same principles to his own Lotus Eleven by adding the distinctive long, low roof line, and ‘pizza oven’ rear window that gives the Ferrari and this Lotus their ‘Breadvan’ nomenclature.
Capel’s original car (chassis # 344) was last seen racing September 1964, where it finished second in Class at Goodwood. But 50 years later, virtually to the day, our car (#518) was also to finish second in class, this time in the Moss Trophy, in what is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest ever races at Goodwood, when the Lotus found itself fighting an epic ‘David and Goliath’ battle with an Aston Martin DB4 GT.
Unlike the biblical encounter, the Lotus Breadvan, expertly driven by Joe Twyman and Olly Bryant, eventually lost out to its bigger rival, the DB4 GT, but only by half a second after an hour-long endurance race in which the two cars repeatedly changed places, with the Lotus faster into the corners but the mighty Aston powering out in front on the straights. Even so, the spirited little Lotus with its four-cylinder Coventry Climax proved faster than its V-12 Ferrari namesake.
“Historic Motor Sport at its very best…” is how the Goodwood commentators described the closing minutes of the Moss Trophy, which can be seen on the video below.
Just as fascinating is the backstory to this remarkable car. Graham Capel’s Breadvan was one of a handful of Lotus XI GTs, so-called because they acquired Coupe bodies and became extremely competitive as a result. As one of the pioneers of this development, having seen the Ferrari Breadvan in action, Capel took his idea and drawings to Lotus founder Colin Chapman who gave his blessing to the project.
Other privateers followed Capel’s lead with various Coupe designs, but none were as successful as his aesthetically. Just a handful survived with their GT bodies, most having been returned to their original specification during various restorations.
Capel’s car suffered much the same fate, surviving in tact until re-discovered in 1985, at which point it too had the GT body removed and was converted back to a conventional Lotus 11.
Fascinated by this story Goodwood veteran and Lotus aficionado David Cooke eventually tracked down Graham Capel for a greater insight and was delighted to discover that he still had some of the original bodywork to the Breadvan, and most significantly, the distinctive Breadvan hardtop. He also had a Lotus 11 Series 2 project (#518) he was in the process of rebuilding, at the time, and both were hurriedly purchased and with Capel’s assistance, the Breadvan was reborn in the workshop of collaborator Neil Twyman.
As with Cooke’s CEGGA-Ferrari rebuild, having access to the original constructor and his drawings proved invaluable, not only in recreating the car exactly as per original, but also in reviving the Plumstead Racing Livery (David Plumstead being Capel’s original sponsor) the correct period paintwork (BMC Squadron Blue) and sponsorship logos. The bodywork even features the original ‘Breadvan’ roof which was fabricated from a WW2 Mosquito’s fuel drop tanks by steel fabricators JT Blythe, who were based at Redhill Aerodrome in period.
Describing Twyman’s Lotus ‘Breadvan’ as a ‘fantastic car’ Graham Capel says he looks forward to seeing it in action again.
Following a recent service at Twyman’s Regent Garage, this unique and much-loved car is ready for the next stage of its racing career, and as the one and only Lotus ‘Breadvan’, it will be welcomed at historic events at home and abroad.