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						Hoyt Special7
Lotus Lookalike: The 1961 Hoyt Special

1961 Hoyt Special roadster offered for sale

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Motoring Investments

So you built your own Lotus at home? That’s pretty cool, but did you know Albert Hoyt built his almost 60 years ago? Clad with aluminum from an old aircraft drop tank and styled after the Lotus VI, Hoyt’s sports special is a living tribute to British design and American ingenuity. Asking just $29,000, it’s also a relatively affordable entry into a one-of-a-kind automobile with race history in the SCCA’s F-Modified class.

Lotus Sevens have enjoyed considerable popularity over the last few decades in kit, continuation and homebuilt forms. There’s just something appealing about a lightweight, bare-bones sports car that relies on agility rather than a thundering high-output powerplant. Much like today, Albert Hoyt likely looked around at the cars readily available in 1961 and saw them as disconnected from the road, and not terribly sporty either. A resourceful fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Hoyt knew he could do better.

Where the original Lotus VI utilized Ford, MG or Coventry Climax powertrain components, the Hoyt Special is based on a 1961 Volvo 544, claimed to have 250 miles on the clock at the time of the build. The Volvo’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and speedometer were used in the build. The overhead-valve engine featured twin carburetors, but just three main bearings before 1962. Horsepower? Not much, just 66 hp, but Hoyt more than compensated for that with his lightweight chassis and aluminum body.

Where you might expect to find a crude rail-type chassis, the Hoyt Special shows it’s true sporting character with a thorough spaceframe chassis. The Volvo suspension is worked seamlessly into the chassis and you can see the conscious effort to keep the center of gravity low. The level of construction is quite professional, suggesting Hoyt employed what he knew about aircraft construction and design in building the car.

On that note, we’re told that aluminum bodywork is based on an aluminum drop tank, or belly tank as it’s sometimes called. Studying the nose of the car, it’s clear that various panels make up the complex shape, and it’s possible that a drop tank was cut up and sectioned to fit the chassis. The rest of the body is also well done, featuring pronounced front and rear fenders, small door panels and a flat trunk area. The hood scoop and protruding carburetor bodies also add character, and the finished product really grabs your attention.

Word is that Albert Hoyt campaigned the car pretty extensively in the SCCA’s F-Modified class, intended for production cars of 1,600 to 2,000 cc, and modified cars from 1,100 to 1,500 cc. It’s interesting to note that the 1,583 cc B16 engine in the Hoyt shouldn’t really qualify for F-modified in 1961, but it seems that the SCCA allowed certain cars to move out of their displacement classes that year, based on past performance. Regardless, the listing dealer has detailed that the car was run on historic circuits like Elkhart Lake and Mid America, as well as the occasional race on U.S. Air Force bases. Between races and street driving, Hoyt put nearly 8,000 miles on his custom sports car.

The Hoyt Special survives today as a nicely restored, turnkey classic with many of its major mechanical systems recently overhauled. Not only will the car get you into many vintage racing events, but it’s also street legal and registered in California.

See the Hoyt Special here on motoringinvestments.com.

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