Colin Chapman was frankly a bloody marvellous ideas man, the only ace motoring man I knew when I joined Ford.I'd paid him so much money as a journalist that I sometimes think I started Lotus!Where John Cooper's little company - never employing much more than 40 - had once dominated, modern Ferrari and Mc Laren, fully employing 10 times more, are locked in combat today.Alumni from the Cooper works in Surbiton, which is today the police patrol car garage flanking the Kingston Bypass, fed the booming British motorsports industry.
This splendid performance sedan was a new concept in the marketplace, but it became perfectly obvious (to me anyway) that it wasn't enough and a 'super GT' was obviously needed because the competitors were beginning to nibble at us.There was this twin-cam version of this incredible engine which was doing things on the track in a modest way."At that time, it would have been ridiculous and bizarre to try to develop twin-cam engine manufacture or assembly inside Ford operations because in 1962 Ford in Britain was just Dagenham; there was no Halewood.The idea that somehow we could run a highly sophisticated twin-cam line there was impossible, so it was agreed that Colin would do the Lotus Cortina."I wanted it very much because by then Lotus was quite a name, and Colin and I sat up late one night to design the car around the twin-cam engine."Hayes also fought battles within Ford to pay for the motorsport programme which would - he was convinced - dispel the utilitarian old image of the "Dagenham Dustbin".For 1960, developing their own Cooper gearbox cost as much - John again keeping it from Dad - yet 20 years later when Williams won the titles its budget was nearer £10 million.And that disparity in available funding reflects the change which overcame premier-league motorsport through the late 1960s - with Walter Hayes, Ford of Dagenham's dapper, pipe-smoking director of public affairs, leading the charge.