In the latest fabulous cutaway feature by Tony Matthews, this one starring the 1984 Lotus 95T, we explore some of the famed F1 constructor’s innermost secrets, including what the gold leaf really was and the identity of the Beast of Ketteringham. Here’s Tony.
1984 John Player Special Lotus Renault 95T
by Tony Matthews
One of the most memorable—and smart—colour schemes ever to hit Formula One was the Lotus-adopted John Player Special scheme. Dark colours can look grim when dirty, but as F1 cars are kept scrupulously clean, nothing holds a shine like gloss black.
The gold pin stripes and JPS symbols added greatly to the effect. The scheme was first seen on the Lotus 72 (1970) and stayed for several years, the Lotus T98 (1986) being the last to carry it. The gold was actually a pale, non-metallic sepia colour, as gold foil is often hard to see, depending on the ambient light.
This is the 1984 John Player Special Lotus Renault 95T, quite a cool looking machine in any colour. Lotus were still using the “origami” method of chassis construction, first used for the Lotus 91. It was ingenious, but only really a stop-gap between fabricated aluminium and moulded carbon honeycomb. Essentially, a large sheet of carbon/Kevlar woven fabric sandwich with an aluminium honeycomb core was laid out, outer surface down, and a series of narrow strips cut from the inner skin corresponding with the edges of the facets that would form the tub.
The sheet was then folded up along those lines, the core crushing until the edges of the strips met and the correct angle between adjacent panels was achieved. Each angle was glued and a strengthening carbon tape added. With the sheet folded and glued into the shape of the tub, aluminium front bulkheads were inserted in halves, split vertically on their centre lines, then located with surprisingly small bolts into bobbins bonded in the tub, and the halves bolted to each other.
The seat bulkhead was part machined aluminium, part carbon, whilst the rear tank bulkhead was a single, large carbon panel bonded in place. It was very effective, if a little rough-looking, but the upper shape of the finished car was a large removable moulding incorporating everything from nose to tail and included the side pod tops and radiator ducting.
I photographed the car at Team Lotus’ Norfolk base, Ketteringham Hall, and when I had taken nearly all the technical detail shots I needed, I was told that a complete car was to be wheeled out on the lawn in front of the Hall for some publicity shots. I grabbed a camera loaded with colour film and trotted through a small plantation to take a few photographs, then returned to finish the detail work before leaving for home.
I processed the film the next day, and laid the black and white films out on a light box and started to examine them with a loupe. As I scanned along the films everything seemed OK, I had what I needed, some tricky shots had worked well, then – what was this? I was confronted with two frames that made no sense at all, I couldn’t think of any part of the Lotus that looked like this, or ever could look like that under any circumstances.
Suddenly it dawned on me what I was looking at: Two close-up shots of a naked backside in traditional mooning position. How had this happened? Lotus T95, buttocks, Lotus T95! Then I remembered that I had left that camera briefly while I was on the lawn. The temptation had obviously been too great for a pair of scallywags, and one had dropped his overalls while the other took aim.
I made a large print of this anomaly and sent it to Peter Warr, then Lotus team manager, with a letter suggesting that I may have photographed the “Beast of Ketteringham,” although I’d seen nothing at the time. I heard later that he was very amused by this, and the letter and photograph were taped to the inside of the transporter.
The cutaway image below is high resolution. Left-click to open and left-click again to open to full size.
Text and images copyright Tony Matthews, all rights reserved. Used by permission. Be sure to see Tony’s other great cutaways at Mac’s Motor City Garage. Links open in new windows: