06 November 2020
TSM Model 1971 Lotus 56B - Race of Champions - Gold Leaf Team Lotus - #6 Emerson Fittipaldi
Following on from the STP-backed Indianapolis 500 model released earlier this year, TSM has released the "B" version of the Lotus Type 56 in the incredibly evocative Gold Leaf livery, as raced in the 1971 Race of Champions, held at Brands Hatch, in Kent, on 21st March 1971.
Designed by Maurice Philippe, under Colin Chapman's watchful eye, the Lotus Type 56 used a modified version of the ST6 gas turbine used on the STP-Paxton Turbocar ("Silent Sam") that had almost won the Indy 500 event in 1967. The turbine unit was based on the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 aircraft engine that became one of the most popular turboprop aircraft engines in history.
The car itself was an entirely new and more advanced design that introduced a distinctive aerodynamic wedge-shaped body. The governing body of the Indy 500 had implemented new rules aimed at handicapping turbine powered racing cars by drastically reducing the air intake size but the Lotus 56 made up for this with a lighter overall weight, sophisticated suspension design and advanced aerodynamics.
Having come so close to winning the 1968 Indy 500, leading with just a handful of laps remaining when the a fuel pump failed, Chapman reworked the car, with the ambition of Team Lotus having just one car to compete in Formula 1 and at Indianapolis.
The resultant 56B design was later raced in Formula 1 on six occasions in 1971, including three non-championship events, but, with no refuelling allowed, the large fuel tanks needed left it overweight and uncompetitive.
TSM's sumptuous diecast replication is an absolute joy to behold, with the company's attention to detail shining through on this model. The upper body can be removed in two parts, with the nose separate from the main body section.
This reveals some truly astonishing detail to the cockpit and ancillaries, but taking it a step further and removing the white shroud behind the roll bar unveils the turbine itself. The detail and finish on the mesh turbine shroud is absolutely outstanding.
The Lotus, resplendent in such an evocative period livery, makes for an incredibly special model (limited to just 1,200 examples) and, even though it wasn't victorious in any of the seven races that it entered, it's a real winner here.