Sorry folks, it’s going to be a long post, but I believe to be worth…
"The Lotus 80 will make the 79 look like an old London bus" – Mario Andretti
"The most wonderful car I ever built" – Colin Chapman.
Somehow Chapman was right, the Lotus 80 was definitely a superb looking car…
Here can be seen in Monaco 1979, Andretti driving.
The Lotus 80 was introduced to journalist in early 1979 springtime, in Brands Hatch, under the lovely U.K. climate (it was snowing).
The crowd was astonished by this wingless wing-car.
At that time I was 14 y.o. and I was really mad in love for this car, being a Lotus fan I was ready to celebrate another World Championship for Lotus.
Several reason put me in that direction: the Lotus 78 breeding the Lotus 79, thus the Lotus 80 should have been the most advanced ground effect car available at the moment.
Somehow it was…. Even too much for that time… Andretti will later reveal that the car was bouncing badly (porpoising…) due the vacuum sucking it down the road, then, when almost no air was available, the Venturi effect goes off and the car jump up… The rivets from aluminium chassis were jumping off due torsion and, finally, those long skirts were not able to cope with the ground correctly…
Somehow the whole concept was a bit too far, few year late, with carbon fiber and active suspension, probably would have work as Chapman desires…
It took to me more than 30 years to get my hands over a Lotus 80… Although an RC one…. Possibly even rarer than the 2 real car build…
A day, a year ago more or less, a fellow Rc collector and F1 fan, told me….
“There is a strange body on Yahoo Auction in Japan”
“Not sure… says 1/10 but it looks like a 1/12 body… Let’s take the risk, bet for me: 50 Euros and will see”.
I win it and cost me almost double to get here in Italy.
Much to my surprise, when I got it….It was really a 1/10 body.
Even better… there are dimples on the side to fix the body to the chassis…. The old Tamiya way!
For those younger… first Tamiya F1 chassis, were released in the second half of the 70, and they comes with 2 bodies. One plastic (mandatory for sanctioned racing) and a Lexan one for leisure purpose….
At this point, the usual dilemma: paint it or keeping transparent? When you made a body, you can “always” made it better…
And a second dilemma: made it to fir a F103 (thus being able to use it for few lap at the track….) or a correct historical chassis? Easy solution… I’ve several historical “static” chassis, plus a running one…. So I could be able to run the Lotus 80… (not yet brave enough…)
The real Lotus was never able to race properly wingless, it was always used in a mixture of wing. The body is a mixed version, w/o a real rear wing, but with the front ones.
I found some pictures, a similar configuration was used in tests at the Race of Champions in 1979: nose wings and low rear wing.
I had a friend (ABC Brianza, a modelmaker) making a set of “martini psychedelic decals” for the side pontoons, while the rest of the decals are authentic Tamiya Martini decals, originally made for the Lotus 79, Only the rear wing “Martini” is still a mock up.
I borrowed a driver from one of the 79 I have in my museum (so far the helmet is still provisory, a more correct Simpson Bandit is to come…. (FYI: my Bandit helmets are cast in resin, and if someone need them, just sent me a message… Maybe you want to have The Stig driving your car or older shelf queen waiting for the proper driver..)
So far... here it is.... A Tamiya Martini Lotus 80
I do not know if the body is “genuine” Tamiya, or an aftermarket product, made more than 30 years ago…
I just know that I’ve an RC Lotus 80, and I’m probably the one in the planet…
By the way, if someone has some more information…. Is more than welcome!
Now... the next holy grail will be a Lotus 88...