Radford Motors is certainly an interesting idea—reviving a colorful British coachbuilder for a line of customized, Lotus-based sportscars. It’s got some big names attached, a nice departure from the usual obscure founders and opaque financial backers. For one, Ant Anstead is involved, the Wheelers Dealers mechanic through the most recent season, and also host of Master Mechanic, both available on the MotorTrend App. And Jenson Button’s on board to assist with the driving bit. He’s, uh, well-qualified. And the fact that Lotus has agreed to lend the outfit a vehicle to build its creation on makes this seem like more than your average flash-in-the-pan startup.
Radford’s first vehicle will be “based on Lotus technology” and then modified by Radford into a new “bespoke limited-edition” vehicle. Here’s where Radford’s history may prove illustrative, as it’s not a new name. Radford was a coachbuilder in the U.K., famous for specials based on Bentleys and Aston Martins, as well as decking out Minis will all manner of luxury features. They were quite expensive, too. Radford was clearly a customizer and coachbuilder, not a sports car manufacturer.
We also know it’ll take inspiration from the Lotus Type 62 (pictured above), developed from the earlier competition version of the Lotus Europa called the Type 47. From what we gather, the Type 62 was not a very successful design, with a short racing career. It did, however, help with the development program for the eventual Type 907 DOHC engine that saw duty in the Jensen-Healey and early Lotus Esprits. The Type 62 is a bit swoopier than the somewhat dowdy Europa, but the high rear deck makes its lineage clear—and there are echoes of said high deck in the Radford’s silhouette.
We’ll know more later this year. But until then, Radford’s worth keeping an eye on.
Lotus Type 62 image used with permission: Copyright William Taylor/Coterie Press