Lamley Daily: Gama Minette Lotus Type 30

We’ve had a Gama on here before, a chance Ebay find of a Matra MS630 back in November 2020. In that article I mentioned a Lotus Type 40 Ford that was produced by the Gama brand in their short run in the 3 inch world. And another lucky Ebay moment has landed one in my hoard.

And while I originally mentioned (as do some online sources) Gama’s diecast to be a Type 40…. well, now I have one in hand, I’m not quite sure what it is, only that it has an identity crisis! But we’ll get to that later. What warrants a further look is the rather sorry story of the Lotus Type 30 and it’s successor the Type 40.

The Lotus Type 30 was built for sportscar racing in an era where large displacement engines were becoming the must have for any manufacturer looking to be competitive. Lotus had some previous success using V8s in their earlier 19 and 23 models and attempted to build on that with the 30 by mating Ford’s huge 289ci V8 (the same V8 that powered the GT40) to a reversed “pickle fork” chassis from the firm’s Elan sports car. The project was considered flawed from the offset, with skeptics unsure of how the torsional rigidity the Elan chassis would cope with a mid-engined set up with so much power. Lotus chief engineer Len Terry was famously so off-put by Colin Chapman’s plans that he refused to be part of the project. Chapman and Lotus pressed ahead and the 30 debuted in 1964 with Jim Clark piloting. Despite being incredibly fast, the 30’s career was immediately plagued by all manner of suspension and chassis problems. The Type 40 was an attempt to improve the formula, with changes to the chassis and aero and an even bigger 351ci engine. The changes did improve the car but by then the competitors were streets ahead, and the reputation of the 30 proved hard to shake, with American driver Richie Ginther remarking the 40 was “the same as the 30 but with ten more mistakes.”

Luckily torsional rigidity isn’t something that I have to think about with the Gama miniature. It’s solidly constructed with both a metal body and base, and there’s not a great deal else to it. It’s just a rather brilliant looking little (1/63 scale) diecast.

Thankfully my example retains the plastic part connecting the roll bar, engine and exhausts; more often than not it’s missing, long since snapped off on the floor of a West German living room. My example has some signs of play but it all adds to the cool factor.

But there’s one thing that stands out, and this is where it gets a little confusing. Turning the model over reveals that Gama identified this car as a Ford GT40.

Well…. that can’t be right can it? Was it a mistake or a translation issue and Gama meant this to be a Lotus Type 40 Ford? Well, that’s not so clean cut either. The proportions of the model don’t entirely match up with a 40, leading me to believe that this is modelled on a Type 30. Indeed there was a real Type 30 in red that sported the number 17: a car raced by Brian Muir in 1965-66. It is clear though that the Gama car is supposed to represent one of the Lotus-Fords and, despite the odd designation, that this is one seriously cool bit of retro diecast and one that is right at home in my collection and here on Lamley.

There are still some Gama cars high on my wish list, so hopefully I can bring you more of their models in the future.

Instagram: @alex_the_hoarder

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(Finding Gama Minette models is tough but check this Ebay link for Gama listings)

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