The Lotus 72 was a masterpiece of a car. Lotus employed this chassis, albeit with year-on-year updates, for five full seasons of Formula One from 1970 to 1975. It was and remains such a stunning beauty of engineering prowess, and the technical drawing rendered by Giorgio Piola for Italian language Autosprint Magazine is no less impressive. Piola himself calls this the most important drawing of his lengthy and legendary career.
Could you imagine any manufacturer using the same chassis year after year today? They’d be 107 per cent rule’d out of the championship. But Lotus managed to win three constructors championships and two drivers championships with a chassis that aged like a crisp gouda. 20 race victories and 39 podiums were earned by legendary drivers — Rindt, Fittipaldi, Peterson, Ickx, Scheckter — in this legendary car.
For 45 days Piola slaved over a 1.83 m long sheet of transfer paper drawing in great detail the 1972 championship-winning John Player Team Lotus 72D as driven by Emmo. All of the shading done by stippled dots across the face of a tire or in the shadow of the airbox to make it look incredibly technical and yet lifelike black and white. These were put in the magazine then, as today, but Piola could ill afford a mistake because it was paper and pen rather than a drawing program with ctrl+z.
This is a short video, but it’s worth watching to give an understanding of what Piola went through to provide readers a modicum of technical understanding of the car in those days. This car was a technological marvel in 1970, and no less important in 1972, so it was something readers positively needed to see in print back then. I’m even astonished to see it today, and the car was long retired from competition by the time I was born. The four-wheel inboard brakes. The basket-of-snakes exhaust manifolds. The oil cooler under the rear wing. It’s worth poring over the details of this maddening machine.
I can’t imagine drawing this thing, let alone driving it. Bless the artists of the world.