Jenson Button has pushed the new Radford 62-2 to its limits, in the company of a classic Lotus 72. The former F1 world champion drove the sports car on-track, joined by Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1970 racer.
The 62-2 is the first car from reborn British coachbuilder Radford, most famous for the customised Mini de Ville – popular with celebrities in the 1960s.
Radford also built the original Ford GT40 prototype and a shooting brake (estate) version of the ‘James Bond’ Aston Martin DB5.
Black and gold
Today, the Radford name has been resurrected by Button, along with business partners Ant Anstead (of Wheeler Dealers fame), Mark Stubbs and Roger Behle. The mid-engined 62-2 is based on the Lotus Exige, but collaborations with other car brands are already underway.
In John Player Special guise, the 62-2 sports the same black and gold livery as the 72. Power comes from a 600hp supercharged 3.5-litre V6, which drives the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
With carbon fibre bodywork and an aluminium chassis, the car weighs less than 1,000kg without fluids.
On the Button
Driving the Radford at Hethel, Lotus’s home test-track in Norfolk, Button achieved 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds and 0-124mph in 8.4 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 186mph.
“To finally drive the type 62-2 for the first time was obviously a very special moment, the cockpit already feels like home,” said Button.
“The car felt great, well balanced in high and low-speed corners and it ran faultlessly all day, which is the perfect base for the months of setup tweaking that will follow for me. We want to ensure this car is a pure driver’s car that pays due respect to the DNA of Lotus, but also delivers the luxury of a Radford.”
Simplify, then add lightness
Clive Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, also joined the test session. He said: “Seeing this modern Radford Lotus Type 62-2 in action on the Hethel track today has been really very 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.”
Only 62 examples of the new Radford will be made (12 of the top-spec JPS) and owners are invited to a one-day track event, with driving tuition from Jenson Button himself. First deliveries are due in summer 2022.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research