1966 Lotus 23C. 1968 Australian Sports Car Champion
Chassis 23-S-123. Lotus 23 Registry Authenticated.
The records that accompany the Lotus 23 show an impressive, and detailed, history.
The Lotus was invoiced from the Lotus factory July 23, 1965 to Geoghegans in Australia. It was sold with 13X7″ front wheels and 13X9″ rear wheels. Factory modifications included Lotus 19 front brakes, axles and hubs.
The Lotus was then sold to Neil Allen in January, 1966. The car was originally raced finished in white with twin red stripes. Raced at Warwick Farms (6th), Catalina Park (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), and Oran Park (1st, 8th, and track record).
Sold to Denis Geary of Denis Geary Motors, in October, 1966. Raced the remainder of 1966 at Catalina Park, Oran Park, and Warwick Farms. Best finish was 2nd at Catalina Park.
Advertised by Geary in March, 1967 with a 1500 c.c. twin cam and Hewland Mk.5 five speed gearbox. On May 14, 1967, the Lotus was damaged in an accident during practice. Geary retained the car.
The following month, the Lotus was sold to Bob Muir, still in its damaged condition. The damage was repaired by Bob Gritton and the Lotus was resprayed to yellow with twin black stripes. The original engine, number 16651001, was still retained, but was bored out to 1600 c.c. specification.
The Lotus raced through 1967, capturing multiple wins, podiums, and fast laps at Warwick Farms, Oran Park, and Hume Weir.
In January, 1968, the engine size was increased again, this time to 1860 c.c., the limit for the engine of this time period.
Muir and the Lotus had an exceptional season in 1968. They won, or finished on the podium, in 11 of the 12 races in which the car competed, and finished 6th in the RAC Trophy Race. Their performance culminated in winning the 1968 Sports Car Championship.
In January, 1969, the Lotus was sold to Derry George from Melbourn, Australia. However, Bob Muir carried on as the driver, along with Peter Larner and Bill Proswe. The Lotus was now sponsored by Civil Flying School, and was still running its original engine.
The Lotus had another impressive season capturing multiple race wins and podiums at Phillip Island, Sandown, Winton, Calder, Warwick Farms (4th at the RAC Trophy Race), Mallala, and Surfers Paradise.
Peter Larner then purchased the Lotus in January, 1970. However, he attended only two race meetings.
In June, 1970, Paul Gibson purchased the Lotus from Larner less engine. The records show that Gibson fitted a 2.7 liter FPF Coventry Climax before later fitting an F85 Oldsmobile V8. A Repco engine may also have been used. An accident necessitated a new body, and one was fashioned out of aluminum only to be re-bodied again at a later date.
Fifty three meetings were attended between June, 1970 and April, 1977. From the August 18, 1975 Calder race onward the Lotus was raced by Grant Gibson. The car raced in the usual series of races for 1975 and 1976, again picking up victories, podiums, and fast laps, including a win and fast lap at the night race held at Calder on January 17, 1976.
In late 1980/January, 1981, Derry George bought the Lotus back, less engine. Handwritten notes in the file indicate that an engine, number 16640711, may have been included with the purchase. Derry restored the Lotus with a new body and painted it red. He raced the car at 11 historic meetings from June, 1983, through February, 1987.
The records show that Art Valdez, from California, purchased the Lotus from Derry in 1987. By June, 1987, Louis Bernat from Chicago, Illinois owned the Lotus and had MotorKraft Ltd. of Bensenville, Illinois perform a complete, frame-up restoration on the car.
Around 2003, the Lotus went back to the U.K. It was then offered for sale in 2004 through a dealer, Cars International, Ltd., located in London. The Lotus had been painted yellow and black at that point and had enclosed rear wheel arches.
The Lotus was sold by Cars International to Bill Binnie/Murray Smith in June, 2006. Binnie and Smith raced the car in U.S. historic races over the next several years.
In September, 2015, Chassis #123 was sold to its current owner. It has been campaigned in historic races ever since.
The Lotus has received the “Green Classification” from the Lotus Registry. The Green Classification means that the evidence presented to, and independently acquired by, the Lotus 23 Registry is convincing that this Lotus 23, chassis 23-S-123, is a genuine Lotus 23.
1600 c.c. dry sump Lotus twin cam. Twin Weber 45 DCOE carburetors. Hewland Mk.9 five speed gearbox. Smiths gauges. Aeroquip fuel and oil lines. OMP seat belts good through 2026. Odyssey gel cell battery. Double chassis tags. Lifeline on board fire system. Rebuilt period H.O. Serck brass radiator. Girling brake system. Koni shocks and Hyperco springs. Steel braided brake lines. Avon FF tires on 13″ Lotus Wobbly wheels.
The Lotus chassis presents itself as an authentic 1965 Lotus 23. The frame is not concours, but it really shouldn’t be for its age and racing accomplishments. That is the tradeoff, isn’t it? We can have a shiny new replica, or Lotus 23 “with stories,” or we can have the genuine article that won the races in period, and claimed the championship. We can always restore a car, but we cannot build history, at least not legitimately.
The body needs to be redone, no doubt about it. It can be repaired, for sure, or could be replaced. It has some significant cracks (the largest from a crew member who inadvertently leaned on the car), and stress hazing. Having said that, from 10 feet away, and on the track, the car looks very presentable.
The Lotus is also very competitive. In its last outing, November, 2021 it finished 3rd in a pack of top Lotus 23’s that race on the U.S. West Coast. It is currently maintained by one of the top racing shops in California. You could race it next week.
If you are interested in acquiring one of the few remaining highly documented continuous history Lotus 23’s, This is a great choice. It has the Lotus 23 Registry’s Green rating, and is also a documented period championship winner. The price right now is also fabulous.
All vehicle descriptions are accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. Corrections, and supplemental information, are always welcome. Buyers are responsible for confirming vehicle histories, condition, and authenticity to their own satisfaction prior to purchase. Motorsports Market is not the owner of the vehicle and assumes no liability for errors and omissions.
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