Lotus Radford Type 62-2 stars in TV special on Discovery

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Forget the January blues… next weekend you have the chance to ignite your new year with some high-octane motoring and the story of an automotive legend reborn. It’s all courtesy of the all-new and highly anticipated documentary about the Radford Lotus Type 62-2.

The feature-length programme called Radford Returns will be debut on the Discovery+ streaming network from Saturday 22 January.

It follows the fascinating rejuvenation of the Radford brand, from the project’s inception through to the design, engineering, development and launch of the spectacular hand-built performance car.

The story focuses on both the revival of the legendary British coachbuilder – fronted by F1 World Champion Jenson Button and TV mechanic Ant Anstead – and its first project in the new era: a unique collaboration with Lotus and a daring modern-day reimagining of a Lotus Type 62.

Following announcement of the project last year, Lotus has been assisting the team as they develop the car. That includes sharing intellectual property from the original 62, plus the very latest technologies to support the manufacture of something that delivers the purest possible driving experience.

The original Type 62’s role in the history of Lotus is a short one, with the model born as a testbed for the Lotus ‘907’ 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine in the late Sixties. Just two prototypes were made, using a space frame chassis design and F1-derived suspension, with a 240bhp mid-mounted engine powering the rear wheels. Lotus entered one of the cars into competition and it won its class at its first event, the 1969 BOAC 500, which took place at Brands Hatch and featured Porsche 908s and Ford GTs at the head of the field. Various other races were entered with further wins, a third place in the Tourist Trophy at Oulton Park and a fourth place at the Trophy of the Dunes in Zandvoort… and that was that. The good news is that both prototypes still survive.

Jenson Button, co-owner of Radford and a passionate Lotus fan, remarked on the importance of reviving both Radford’s bespoke craftsmanship and the Lotus Type 62. He said: “A key purpose of Radford is to celebrate iconic automotive moments by bringing them back to life for a new, modern audience. Our first car embodies that ethos to a tee.”

The Radford connection with Lotus goes back to the very beginning as both firms started out in the same year – 1948. In the early Sixties 20 Lotus Elans were given the Radford treatment, creating exclusive variants of arguably the most famous Lotus of all time. One was owned by double F1 world champion Jim Clark, widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers of his generation.

Today, this rekindled collaboration unites more than seven decades of world-class Lotus engineering with a thoroughly modern twist on Radford coachbuilding. Just 62 cars will be produced, for obviously reasons. Each will be unique, tailored to the exact specifications of the customer.

While Radford’s experts were designing, building and testing the car, they kept in mind the heritage and Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s often-quoted philosophy to ‘simplify, then add lightness’. Ant Anstead explained that while the Type 62-2 is based on Lotus technology, it has been completely reimagined and reengineered. He said: “Unlike traditional coachbuilding, which focused on making bespoke bodywork and interiors, we’ve deployed the very latest technology throughout the build. The Type 62-2 has a longer wheelbase, an entirely new suspension system, a new carbon fibre exterior and a new interior.” 

The Lotus Type 62-2 is the world’s first modern Radford. The mid-engined two-seater coupe, with luxurious appointments befitting a high-end bespoke coachmaker, is powered by a 3.5-litre supercharged V6, shared with the 2022 Lotus Emira sports car. Available in three versions, the Classic Type 62-2 delivers 430bhp, the Gold Leaf takes that to 500bhp, and the limited-edition John Player Special with upgraded supercharger produces 600bhp. The latter flagship car shares the world-famous black and gold JPS livery of the Lotus Type 72D, raced by 1972 Formula 1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

Clive Chapman, the son of Colin, was present at a unique filming day for the documentary, staged on Lotus’ iconic test track in Hethel, Norfolk. He was one of the first to see the Type 62-2 John Player Special in action. He remarked: “Keeping the Lotus legacy alive has been my focus for many years and seeing this modern-day Radford in action today has been really special. The way it has taken the spirit and legacy of the original Type 62, combined it with the iconic JPS livery and revived it for the modern-day sports car enthusiast, is an admirable achievement.”

The standalone show is set to air from Saturday 22 January and you view it by subscribing to Discovery+ on your TV, tablet or mobile device. You can also follow the Radford journey on Instagram @RadfordMotors