12 reasons the Radford Type 62-2 is superb | Top Gear
Advertisement
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature

The full story of audi's 2023 dakar rally

View the latest news
Thursday 9th February
British

12 reasons the Radford Type 62-2 is superb

It’s almost time to drive reborn Radford’s gorgeous first effort, so here’s a recap on why we’re buzzing with excitement

Radford Type 62-2
  • There’s a rich heritage to plunder 

    Radford Type 62-2

    In simple terms the Radford Type 62-2 is a coachbuilt special developed in partnership with Lotus, that marks the return of the iconic british coachbuilder, Radford. Name ring a bell? Harold Radford founded his eponymous company back in 1948, building beautiful coachbuilt conversions like the Bentley Countryman, an uber-spec Bentley estate, a shooting brake version of the Aston DB5 and most famously, ridiculously poshed-up Minis that were bought by the likes of the Beatles, Twiggy… even Enzo Ferrari.

    Photography: DW Burnett

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • It’s got some big names behind it

    Radford Type 62-2

    This sleeping giant has been revived by an all-star team that includes Ant Anstead, Jenson Button and Mark Stubbs. According to Radford: “The design is overseen by leading automotive designer Mark Stubbs. The build is taken care of by Radford’s second co-owner TV star, renowned car builder and automotive craftsman Ant Anstead. The drive is taken care of by company co-owner and former F1 World Champion, Jenson Button who will track test and meticulously tune each car to offer a superlative driving experience.”

  • Jenson’s in charge of the handling

    Radford Type 62-2

    Speaking of superlative driving experiences, F1 champ Button recently took the Exige-based Type 62-2 for his first spin at Lotus’s test track in Hethel, Norfolk, alongside Emerson Fittipaldi’s title-winning Lotus 72 F1 car... as you do.

    “To finally drive the type 62-2 for the first time was obviously a very special moment, the cockpit already feels like home!” exclaimed JB. “The car felt great, well balanced in high- and low-speed corners and ran faultlessly all day which is the perfect base for the months of setup tweaking that will follow for me. We want to ensure that this car is a pure driver’s car that pays both due respects to the DNA of Lotus but also delivers the luxury of a Radford.”

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • The interior is an analogue delight

    Radford Type 62-2

    You might have presumed that the interior would just be a Lotus Exige dashboard with the word ‘Lotus’ crossed out on the steering wheels and a Radford sticker slapped over the top.

    But no. A partnership with British posh wristwatch maker Bremont means that Radford drivers will have very little excuse for being late. Just look at that clockface: even F1 drivers don’t put timepieces that big on their wrist. It’s joined on the far side of the dash by an analogue stopwatch.

    Retro touches are not in short supply here. There’s toggle switches, a ‘handbrake lever’ (whatever that is), a refreshingly round button-free steering wheel, and just look at that exposed gearshift mechanism, showcased in carbon fibre. Radford says it was going for an old-school Le Mans prototype feel inside the car.

  • The badge is pure gold

    Radford Type 62-2

    No really, that Lotus badge on the front is a thing of rare beauty - real gold set against black enamel. Hand made in the jewellery quarter of Birmingham, no less. Are you a Type 62-2 owner that’s forgotten an anniversary/birthday (delete as appropriate)? No matter, just whip the badge off, stick it on a chunky chain and Bob’s your uncle.

  • It has something in common with the Honda e

    Radford Type 62-2

    Nope, not the ability to turn its touchscreen into a giant digital aquarium, we’re talking about the wing mirrors. Or lack of them. This is the Type 62-2’s genius, that it plays on being such an overtly retro piece of design, but actually just below the surface it’s packed with the little bits of technology that make our lives more tolerable. Cameras for wing mirrors come with pros and cons, sure, but the reason they’re used here is to avoid the need for enormous bits of glass (to meet modern regs) that would spoil the delicate proportions. Good call.

    You can have carbon-fibre centre-lock wheels, it sits on the latest Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, the headlights have a soft square retro shape, but are hi-end LEDS and you can order Brembo CCM-R brakes – that’s the most advanced brake disc technology that the world’s most advanced brake disc company currently offer. See where we’re going with this? The oldie-worlde styling is merely a diversion from the cutting-edge supercar underneath.

  • The double ducktail spoilers are sensational

    Radford Type 62-2

    The double ducktail spoilers at the back are standard on the Gold Leaf and JPS versions, but if you want them you can combine them with any spec. All we know is you would be letting the world down by passing up the opportunity to order them. Whereas on the original Type 62 racer these would have been crude bolt-on parts that you only attached once you arrived at the racetrack, here they’re beautifully moulded into the carbon-fibre rear-deck. As if they’re sprouting organically from the surface. Yes please.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • The door cut outs have a deeper meaning

    Radford Type 62-2

    Notice how the tops of the doors cut into the roofline? It’s a practical measure first and foremost, one that lets you drop down into and stand up from the seats vertically, rather than posting yourself in, but do they remind you of anything? Ford GT40, perchance? This is not a coincidence. Radford made the fibre glass body for the original GT40 prototoype, so it’s a clear pointer to the past. Hats off to Mark Stubbs for that one.

  • It’s analogue in all the right ways

    Radford Type 62-2

    This is a car petrolheads have been crying out for, isn’t it? Something with the handling of a modern Lotus, and all the old-school analogue elements that make driving fun – like a manual gearbox, unassisted steering, super-low kerbweight, minimal electronic assistance systems – but one paired with a rip snorting modern engine, the lightest and strongest modern materials and all the tech that make sports cars actually usable more than twice a year.

    It’s all Lotus technology underneath, so a bonded and riveted aluminium stretched Exige chassis, and Lotus’s Toyota-sourced supercharged 3.5-litre V6 with manual and DCT gearboxes. And it’s light – the skinniest version is under 1,000kg – thanks in part to that gorgeous carbon-fibre bodywork.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • It’s not cheap, but not silly either

    Radford Type 62-2

    Over to Ant Anstead to explain this one: “Our entry level is a shade over $400k, and that will get you a really comprehensive car, but if you’re getting into the realms of something super bespoke, then the sky’s the limit. But we’re not operating in the same levels that other brands would.

    “We’ve just been to Quail and shown this thing on the same lawn as iconic brands like Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche and Rolls Royce, but we’re still a big chunk below all of those. We don’t want to make our cars over the million dollar mark. We’re celebrating brand heritage, not trying to make it super-duper exclusive… but it is exclusive!”

  • It comes in three flavours, but really anything’s possible

    Radford Type 62-2

    Which gearbox and how much power and downforce you have depends on which one of three specs you go for. There’s a choice of Classic (which gets a 430bhp V6, manual, no spoiler), Gold Leaf, which is this red and white car (and gets a 500bhp V6, DCT, twin ducktail spoilers centre-lock wheels and motorsport traction control) and the top spec JPS John Player Special (with a 600bhp V6, DCT, proper aero kit, carbon wheels and carbon ceramic brakes). Only 62 will be built in total, with all three versions buyers can jump in with Jenson on a track day to hone their skills and each will be unique to its owner. Radford says, with a blank cheque there’s nothing it can’t alter or make happen.

  • It’s just the start for Radford

    Radford Type 62-2

    The Type 62-2 shows Radford’s intention, the type of hand-crafted small batch, coachbuilt cars it wants to produce… but how long will we have to wait for the next one? Back to Ant Anstead: “All I can say at this stage is that we have other OEMs, like Lotus, contracted, inked and started… Jenson has actually already driven our second car and all I can say is it’s not a sports car.”

    Same question to Jenson: “For me, to work with British brands is the most exciting, because those are the cars I grew up with. I saw Minis and Capris on the street, those was the cars I wanted. I also liked a Cossie, an RS500 was the dream. Certain cars are too early to reimagine, but there’s so many that would work. And it doesn’t just have to be cars that did well in the past, cars that were famous for being beautiful or for their engineering. For us, we could take a car that really didn’t work in the past, and try to make it cool, that’s the really exciting thing.”

    Scroll down for more images

  • Radford Type 62-2
  • Radford Type 62-2
  • Radford Type 62-2
  • Radford Type 62-2
  • Radford Type 62-2
  • Radford Type 62-2

More from Top Gear

Loading
See more on British

Promoted Content

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Subscribe to BBC Top Gear Magazine

Save 50% on a year - just £32.99
subscribe