Multiple Podiums, Immaculate, No-Expense-Spared Maintenance by J&L Fabrication
1964 Lotus 26R Race Car
Chassis No. – 26R-037
Exterior Color – Green with yellow stripe
Interior Color – Black
Engine – four-cylinder 26R Spec Twin Cam
Transmission – 4sp dogbox
Current Miles – Race Car
Current Owner – Purchased in 2004
Miles driven under current ownership – Race use only
Highlights for this car
Current 17-year ownership with ownership history known since new
One of 45 Series 1 26R factory race cars built by Lotus
Stunning condition and superlative mechanical preparation
Historic and important Lotus ready for race use
With the introduction of the Model 26 Elan in 1962, Lotus was poised to deliver superlative engineering and innovative racing concepts into a well-balanced lightweight competition car, cleverly cloaked in street trim. The genius behind Colin Chapman was not limited to building great racing cars, rather that they served a dual, albeit often challenging purpose – a car that can compete but still be usable on the street. With the new Elan, the results hit the target perfectly. The 1,500 lb roadster utilized a steel backbone frame with bonded fiberglass body panels, refined suspension, and disc brakes all around. Though racing for the Elan was limited to privateer entrants in the early days, it became clear that the Elan proved to be a massive success in the hands of capable drivers.
In 1964 the Elan became homologated as the 26R. Spanning a mere two years, 97 examples were constructed in both S1 and S2 configurations. Vastly superior due to the small footprint, lightweight construction, and capable twin cam engine, many standard Lotus Elans were privately built to racing specifications but only 97 factory prepared race cars were built by Lotus. Refinements included a stiffened chassis, triangulated rollbar, up-rated suspension using competition wishbones and sliding spline drive shafts, wider magnesium wheels, lightweight thinner skin laminate body construction with covered cowl-type headlights, and dual circuit disc brakes with light alloy calipers. A BRM or Cosworth purpose-built race engine netting 135-165 hp was mated to magnesium cast gearboxes and limited slip aluminum alloy differential carriers to further save weight.
Top level drivers would achieve win after win behind the wheel of these capable and impressive sports cars so much so that motorsports press would herald these cars as giant killers, taking down cars with often double the engine size, backed by millions of dollars in corporate funding. Of the 97 competition 26R models built, a mere 30 factory original examples are purported to exist today due in part to the nature of racing and the consistent improvements made as the model evolved.
This factory-built Lotus 26R was assembled in 1964 as serial number 37, among the last of the Series 1 examples constructed (45 in all), it was finished with BRG livery, fitted with engine #156 41 002, and delivered to the first owner, Mr. Henry Kelley, on July 11, 1964. Kelley raced the car at Oulton Park, Brands Hatch, and Donington Raceway. In 1968 the car was purchased by Frank Opalka, Chicago, IL who raced the car from 1968-1988 in both Production and Production Modified SCCA classes, sharing wheel time with John Gabriel. In 1990 the car was sold to John Weinberger (Continental Motors, Chicago, IL) who enlisted expert Jim Groom in Berkeley, CA to restore the original frame and prepare a new body for the car. Weinberger raced the car at Road America and other NE venues. By 1995 the car was sold to Greg Whitten, Seattle, WA a well-known Lotus racing enthusiast with two other 26Rs in his collection. Whitten sold the car to the current owner, a Seattle, WA resident who has competed with the car achieving several wins and podium finishes at Sonoma, Laguna Seca, Road America, Watkins Glen, and Mount Tremblac.
During Weinberger’s ownership, the former body shell was removed, and a new correct lightweight body was installed by Jim Groom. At the same time, Groom restored the original frame, and the suspension was upgraded to S2 specifications. Under current ownership the car was carefully prepared by Dennison International, Washington, specifically for racing use in various events throughout the country. In 2005 the gearbox was rebuilt, and Veloce Motors West prepared a specially built engine to mate with the freshly built gearbox. Dyno sheets and summary letter indicate peak power of 185hp within the 8,000 – 8,300 rpm range. Invoices for the engine work, gear ratios, engine components, and dyno sheet accompany the car. Although a wet sump engine, it runs as a dry sump configuration with a large volume oil pan. The car retains the original type shock tubes with Koni shocks installed inside the tubes. The transmission has been converted to a dog ring type with internals in a stock case. A new SAS cylinder head was installed approximately five years ago.
Having benefitted from expert racing specialists at J&L Fabricating, Puyallup, WA, this Lotus has been serviced and maintained by them since 2007. As such they are keenly familiar with the mechanical details and history, evidenced by 230 pages of detailed records outlining work performed on the car over the past 14 years, including several entries for work performed in 2021, 2020, and 2019 including new racing harness, new tires for both sets of wheels, radiator, brake work, and tachometer repair.
In 2014 the drive yolk broke while at speed participating in the David Love races. This caused body damage which was assessed and determined that a new body shell would be better than repairing the older shell. The older body shell was removed, all parts transferred to the new body, various details freshened, and a new super lightweight fiberglass Tony Thompson body was purchased and installed. The chassis was sent to Jim Groom who previously had built the roll cage. Groom repaired the cage and assessed the frame, determining it to be straight and not in need of repairs. The ACCUS FIA/USA technical passport was assigned to the car in 2007.
Today this historically important Lotus has been faithfully cared for and properly prepared for vintage event competition. With multiple experts weighing in on the provenance in period and over the past 47 years, the current cosmetic condition is reflective of the original BRG racing livery and sensitively performed upgrades appropriate for modern competition use. The attention to detail from the bodywork to the mechanical features is evident throughout every aspect of the car. The paintwork overall is glossy, with a few small blemishes, typical of vintage competition use over the past fifteen years. The magnesium wheels and racing tires are in excellent condition, appropriately sized and tucked under the gently flared wheel arches. The clear lenses covering the fixed headlights, rear lighting, windscreen and hardtop are also in very good condition. A single yellow stripe tracks the center of the car, flanked by twin pin stripes and white meatballs adorned with number 37. Quad taillights, chrome door handles, and rocker panel air scoops (which aid in rear brake cooling) blend the road and competition feel of these early S1 factory homologated race cars. The windshield is adorned with numerous event stickers from the past five years indicating recent racing participation at some of the most respected racing venues on the west coast.
The cockpit is clean and very well laid out offering excellent right hand driving position and natural access to the shifter and foot pedals. Twin formed bucket seats match the flat black interior finishes, and a competition five-point seat belt dated to December 2023 protects the driver while a wide lap belt awaits a fortunate passenger should the opportunity arise. A fire suppression system is also professionally installed along with a lightweight battery mounted to the footwell area of the passenger compartment. The roll bar features side impact cross member construction at both doors, while the black finish dashboard offers vintage instruments, protected toggle switches, and a Lotus branded steering wheel. Purposefully constructed with racing in mind, there is a nice blend of vintage components and high-level finish that completes the cockpit in a very cohesive manner.
Under the removable hood, the capable twin-cam engine sits proudly upright, defying the low hood line and considerable power derived from such a potent 4-cylinder engine. The compact engine is finished with black crackle coating over the cam covers while the intake side is fed by 45DCOE Weber carburetors and a correct air box, force fed from a large intake hose at the front of the car. The opposite side of the engine features four beautifully formed exhaust header tubes exiting to stainless steel exhaust. Everything from the aluminum radiator to the plumbing, lines, hoses, and fittings are all beautifully and purposefully assembled to a high level of finish. The hinged trunk is finished in flat black and houses a professionally built fuel tank with proper hardware and lines. Underneath the car, the quality continues to amaze with excellent components, beautifully built suspension, robust axle shafts, and thoughtful detailing.
This is a fantastic opportunity to acquire an historically correct and documented example of one of the most important Lotus competition cars ever built. The Lotus 26R is not only a legendary racecar from an historic perspective, it will confidently compete at the head of the pack in any current vintage racing event, just as it has in recent races. The excellent mechanical condition, known ownership history, and the historic importance of factory construction figure prominently in the rarity and usability of this rare and desirable Series 1 Lotus 26R.
PLEASE NOTE: although this car has been previously prepared for competition use, we recommend that a qualified race shop review the car to determine all systems are appropriately prepared before it is used in a competition setting.
Items Included with the Car
Four spare wheels with new Competition Avon tires mounted
A spare 26R casting differential
Two spare gauges and cable lines
Miscellaneous spare parts (detailed list shown in gallery)
Racing video: https://youtu.be/CLcEBWIv_Gc
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608