Lotus 38 Indy 500 Racer Comes Back to Life After 50 Years to Blow Your Speakers

I don't watch Formula 1 as much as I used to. I wear a mustache and trucker hats now, and I enjoy NASCAR racers taking left turns all day. But I've been watching F1 long enough to know that the current drivetrains sound like home appliances compared to the old mills.
Lotus 38 V8 engine fired up after 50 years 6 photos
Photo: Classic Team Lotus
Lotus 38 engine fired up after 50 yearsLotus 38 engine fired up after 50 yearsLotus 38 engine fired up after 50 yearsLotus 38 engine fired up after 50 years1965 Indy 500-winning Lotus 38
And I'm not talking about the V10 and V12 era of the 1990s and 2000s, but the earlier days when the rules were a bit more relaxed. I could put together a long list of old-school F1 engines that sound fantastic, but I'm going to stick to just one for the time being: the Cosworth DFV, my absolute favorite.

Introduced toward the late 1960s, the DFV went on to become one of Formula 1's greatest powerplants. The 3.0-liter V8 soldiered on for decades and propelled to victory all but two drivers from 1968 to 1982. The same era saw Lotus, Matra, Tyrrell, McLaren, and Williams win ten constructors' championships with DFV-powered cars. Lotus scored no fewer than five of them.

But the British company raced great-sounding engines even before the DFV arrived. The Lotus 38, for instance, hit IndyCar circuits with one of the loudest V8s out there. The first rear-engined car to win the Indy 500, the 38 was powered by a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V8.

It was run in the series until 1967, when it was replaced by the 42, and Lotus built only eight examples. I have no idea how many of them still exist, but Lotus just announced that it's currently restoring one of them for the folks over at CanAm Cars. And they just fired up its V8 engine for the first time in 50 years.

If you think modern racing engines sound mean, you'll definitely change your mind after hearing this V8. It's so loud and nasty that it will blow your speakers. If you're a headphone user, I suggest you keep the volume down.

Granted, this 4.2-liter V8 is nowhere near as crazy as the H16 that BRM built in the mid-1960s, but it sounds just as mad and spits flames through its top-mounted exhaust pipes.

The Lotus 38 will be restored in time for the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed, so there's a good chance we'll see it in action up the hill.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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