1955 Lotus Mk IX Competition

The Lotus Mk IX was derived from the Mk VIII, Colin Chapman’s first full-bodywork two-seater barchetta. As with the Mk VIII, the Mk IX was designed around a lightweight steel tubular chassis, fitted with aluminum panels. The body was designed by Frank Costin (the “Cos” in “Cosworth”), and built by Williams & Pritchard. It had independent front suspension and a rear De Dion axle, with “in-board” drum brakes. The Lotus IX could be fitted with a 1,500-cc MG engine, but the most common configuration involved the Coventry-Climax 1,100-cc engine. With its low weight and aerodynamic design, the car performed brilliantly in its class, both in Europe and the United States.

This Lotus IX has a particularly interesting, continuous history. It was one of the first two built for the Sebring 12 Hour race in 1955. Bought by Bobby Burns, a Texan enthusiast, it was delivered to New York by plane and from there by road to Sebring, the entire journey driven by entrants Norman Scott and Sam Samuelson, as reported in an Autosport article in March 1955. This wasn’t the best preparation for the race perhaps, but it didn’t prevent them leading the class in the eighth hour before a stone pierced the oil sump and put an end to their dreams. It was the first Lotus entry in an international endurance race.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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