Ian Walker Racing’s Gold Bugs

The Lotus Elan Type 26 is the archetypal British lightweight sports car of the 1960’s.

Not originally intended for racing, it soon became a favourite and was developed in period by many of the top teams such as Ian Walker Racing and Chequered Flag into a full-blown race car.

Outwardly, the Ian Walker Racing Elans gained small scoops ahead of the rear wheels, put in place to cool the brakes and differential (which also had an oil cooler). Up front the road car’s pop-up headlights were replaced with fixed items sited behind Plexiglas shields. Each of the IWR ‘Gold Bugs’ were finished in distinctive metallic gold with a dark green stripe, featured tuned engines and many suspension modifications. With Walker’s roll-call of drivers including Peter Arundell, Sir John Whitmore, Mike Spence and Phil Hawkins.

The great Jim Clark steered one to victory in a support race at the 1964 British GP meeting (Whitmore made it a one-two finish), and a few years ago we were honoured to be asked to have our car on the grid at Donington Park for a moving ceremony remembering him on the anniversary of his untimely death. 

Lotus, never slow to see an opportunity, introduced the Type 26R with many of the now proven race modifications.

The Elan 26R was referred to as ‘Comp Elan’ in the period, and was the model that everyone aspired to. 

Faster and lighter and with better engines tuned by Cosworth and BRM, a revised chassis, heavily modified drive line and suspension, larger front brakes, alloy cooling systems, revised body and magnesium knock-on wheels resulted in a car of even greater beauty and far superior safety, reliability and performance.

They are homologated at 580kgs and with their Lotus Twin cam engine delivering 180bhp. These little cars are well down on the absolute power of the Cobras and TVRs which are c 450-480bhp today, as well as E-Types, but make up for their relative lack of power in their more precise handling, which has resulted in many fabulous races over the years.

There were two original Gold Bug Elans built in 1964, as well as a Rally Car version (in yellow rather than gold) and an alloy-bodied fast-back built for Le Mans which crashed before the race. These four Ian Walker Gold Bugs were all built on original 26R chassis.

There are also now dozens, if not hundreds, of accurate new-build replica 26Rs or GTS cars on circuit, with the well driven ones being very hard to beat.

Our “Gold Bug” is a genuine 26R from 1964 which originally enjoyed international success at Daytona and Sebring in the USA, before being reimported to the UK by Ian Walker.

Ian had retained his Ian Walker Racing Competition Licence and the car was rebuilt by him, painted in the distinctive IWR team colours and entered by IWR at Goodwood with his son Sean as the driver.

This achieved for Ian one of his remaining ambitions which was for his son to race one of his IWR Elan 26Rs at Goodwood in his colours.


After this the car was entered by IWR at the Oulton Park Gold Cup, Silverstone International, Brands Hatch Super Prix, Spa Classic and many other international events.

It won regularly with Sean often being joined by Ian Flux as co-driver.

In a touching tribute after Ian’s death in 2008, Sean scattered his fathers ashes from the car on the Hanger Straight at Silverstone as an RAF plane flew overhead, Ian having seen active service in the RAF during WW2.

Sean continued racing the car with many further wins until his retirement in 2013.

In the hands of Sean Walker, our bug won the prestigious Oulton Park Gold cup twice, and in John Davison’s hands more recently it has won the Guards Trophy Championship series outright three times and the Oulton Park Gold Cup once.

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