Radford’s master plan: electric, hybrid, performance and luxury

Published: 09 December 2021

► Lotus’ Type 62 resurrected
► New coachbuilt creation from Radford
► Two specification versions shown

Underneath Bentley’s Mayfair showroom, a selection of clients stand around yet another limited-edition, low-slung sportscar. But this time, it’s the rather incredible-looking Radford Type 62-2.

We’re here to celebrate the partnership of Radford and Jack Barclay’s dealership, but we’re also here to learn about the Radford masterplan. The name may hark back to customised Minis in the 50s and 60s, but in 2021 Radford is a focused start-up, with the tools and personnel to make a serious impact in the sports car industry – and beyond.

The project now counts Jenson Button, Ant Anstead and Dan Burge among its staff – and its goal has been clear from the beginning.

‘One of the founders looked into the brand and acquired the brand rights and trademark. He was then approached by another one the founders who wanted to do something with it,’ explains Radford CEO Dan Burge. ‘So there was a distinct effort from like-minded people who knew of the brand new of the heritage and had similar ideas to bring it back and it all went from there.’

The story begins with the 62-2, and it’s certainly a looker. Even better in the flesh, it’s a modern take of Lotus’ 62 racer, itself a product of work on the GT40, and in the flesh it’s a stunning modern take on an old idea. From its understated front end and inset LED lights, to its organic curves which recall classic, panel beaten shapes from the 60s and earlier – it’s a car that delves into the past and reimagines it with stunning restraint.

Making 600bhp in (JPS-form) from a supercharged 3.5-litre V6, it’s an analogue adieu to the combustion engine – and it’ll handle too thanks to input from Lotus. Jenson Button has been taking on the final development stages of the car, using Lotus’ Hethel test track.

The project started as a one off for a TV show, but then things got more serious. ‘Conversations moved on to where we think people will want to buy this car,’ says Burge. ‘So between Radford and then Lotus at the time, we spoke about building some cars for customers.’

Although the Lotus 62-2 is organic as you can get, Radford isn’t limiting itself to combustion cars – or performance cars. In the 60s, Harold Radford was also known for coachbuilding whatever customers wanted, and the latest iteration of Radford is putting the customer front and centre, too.

‘Hopefully we can continue as a low volume manufacturer doing the very niche combustion engine for enthusiasts,’ confirms Burge. ‘But we will absolutely embrace the electric era as well.’

So far, Radford has four cars in the pipeline.

‘Our second car, which we will unveil in 2022 will have combustion and electric options, and then our fourth car will be pure electric.’ And the third car is combustion again.

Alongside the Lotus engineering connection, Radford can also call on Stratasys, the leading 3D printing people. The Type 62-2 rolls on lightweight wheels made by British wheel firm Dymag – also responsible for kitting out the Lotus 1985 F1 car – while the interior is furnished help from Henley-based Bremont watches. The interior fabrics are also chosen by Saville Row’s Mason and Sons. And these partnerships may continue to other models.

Clearly, Radford is one to watch. Featuring the ideas of a focused car enthusiasts but the power and R&D of Geely among others, it’s bringing coachbuilding to the 21st century.

Keep reading for our debrief on the 62-2.

Radford 62-2: the first car

Radford has revealed another version of its Type 62-2 sportscar, this time with an iconic John Player Special livery. Of the 62 cars to be built, only 12 will come in the black-and-gold spec that riffs on Lotus’ 1972 F1 car. And there’s more going on than just new paintwork.

The JPS car features larger diffusers, air intakes and wheels and makes 600bhp from its supercharged 3.5-litre V6. The hike in power is driven by upgraded pistons, con-rods and camshafts – as well as a larger supercharger. 

‘The John Player Special Type 62-2 is the most extreme Type 62-2 that money can buy,’ said Radford co-partner and 2009 F1 champ, Jenson Button. ‘It is low, sleek and powerful and sports one of the most iconic racing liveries ever created – one of the liveries that the heroes of Formula 1 such as Emerson Fittipaldi and Ayrton Senna used to race with, in the cars that made me want to be a driver.’

Keep reading for more on the standard car. 

What you need to know

Radford, the resurrected coachbuilder from the 1940s and 50s, has revealed its first product – the Type 62-2. It’s a recreation of Lotus’ Type 62 racer from the late 60s.

It’s the first modern coachbuilt car from Radford, with more to come. It’s been built in partnership with Lotus itself, and this is our first look at the finished exterior design.

It’s quite a looker!

The Type 62-2 is low, wide and has an impressively slick bodyshell. While the overall look is retro, 21st century tech features in the design. LED lighting features, and the bodywork is constructed of carbonfibre and aluminium.

radford classic

Radford has confirmed two versions: Classic and Gold Leaf. Classic has more obvious cues to the original Type 62 that was designed without a rear wing, with 17/18-inch front/rear wheels.

But it’s the Gold Leaf version that’s made the public debut. That has a period-specific livery and wings added for more downforce, 18/19-inch front/rear wheels, a double ducktail spoiler.

I need some specs, pronto

Because of the lightweight materials used, race-spec versions of the Type 62-2 have a dry weight of under 1000kg. The body panels are carbonfibre, and the monocoque chassis underneath is all aluminium.

radford side

Radford has used a 3.5-litre supercharged V6 in the Type 62-2. In the Classic configuration, it produces 430bhp – leading us to believe it’s the engine from the Lotus Evora GT430. The Gold Leaf spec uprates that to 500bhp via an engine remap, upgraded pistons, conrods and camshafts. Both models get a titanium exhaust system, and you can have your Classic’s power uprated if you desire. You can spec either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch on the Classic model, with the Gold Leaf model having the dual-clutch auto by default.

Elsewhere, the Type 62-2 has coilover springs with four-way adjustable dampers, unassisted steering and an optional nose lift system. ABS and stability control are included, which you can switch off.

What’s Radford?

Radford was originally founded in 1948 as Harold Radford Coachbuilders, building bespoke Bentley and Rolls-Royce models. One of its first was the Bentley Countryman in 1951 and it was involved in creating the fibreglass bodywork of the first GT40 prototype. The brand also had celebrities lining up for one-off creations, including The Beatles.

radford wheelarch

The coachbuilder has since been brought back to life, with F1 champ Jenson Button, TV presenter Ant Anstead and car designer Mark Stubbs, who’s had a career with Bentley, Bugatti, Nissan and Ford. Radford’s now based in California.

Can I buy one of these Type 62-2s?

If you have deep pockets. Just 62 will be built, with the first ones making production later in 2021.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast