The Lotus 88, built on an innovative dual chassis concept, was prepared for the 1981 season. The car was designed by Colin Chapman, Peter Wright, Tony Rudd and Martin Ogilvie in an effort to maximise the downforce produced by ground effects cars. A Formula 1 car must have as rigid a suspension as possible, resulting in vibration that has a negative effect on the machine’s units and on the driver. The Lotus 88 monocoque was connected to the wheels with soft suspension. At the same time, the car also had a second, outer body, which perceived aerodynamic loads and transferred them to the wheels using a separate, very stiff suspension. The Lotus 88 made its debut at the first practice session of the 1981 season opener, the US Grand Prix West at Long Beach. Although the car was not allowed to race it beat the McLaren MP4/1 to be the first Formula One car with a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, the MP4/1 making its debut at the third grand prix of the season in Argentina. The decision of the judges stated that the upper body is an aerodynamic element that is not rigidly fixed to the car chassis. In fact, this was not the case: radiators and other car components were mounted in the upper case, so it cannot be considered a “big wing”. Thus Lotus 88 took part only in a few practices before the USA West and Brazilian Grand Prix. The modified Lotus 88B was able to pass technical control at the British Grand Prix, but was not allowed to start. Some aerodynamic solutions of the 86 were applied in the design of the rather successful Lotus 91, which appeared in 1982.

SeasonSeriesEvent
1981F1WCBriitish GP practice
Driver No.Entrant
Nigel Mansell12Team Essex Lotus
Scale ManufacturerCollection
1:43Minichamps
Cat. No.QualityRarity
400810012