Over the course of two seasons, Graham Hill piloted the Lotus 49b to a total of 6 podiums including 3 wins. That figure may not sound too grand by modern standards, but considering the risk involved in driving these developing yet fragile machines in that era, to win a race, let alone a championship, was considered heroic.
Over the course of the ’69 season, Hill mananged just two podium visits during the 11 World Championship races; the first, a fine second place at Kyalami, South Africa with a fifth and final win at the Monaco Grand Prix a few months later.
The powerful and lively 49b proved to be Hill’s undoing during the 1969 US Grand Prix, where on lap 88, Hill suffered a spin and puncture, causing a rear tyre to explode as he made his way back to the pits. The resulting crash threw Hill from the car and he suffered broken bones in both legs, ending his racing for the season.
This wasn’t the only incident that the 49b and Hill are remembered for.
Both he and team mate Jochen Rindt suffered accidents at the 1969 Spanish Grand Prix at the circuit of Montjuïc. due to the failure of the new, but somewhat experimental aerodynamics seen for the first time that season. The rear wings that were mounted on stilts from the rear suspension on this version of the Lotus failed spectacularly, sending both cars into early retirement.
A best a championship winning machine. At worst a real risk to the wellbeing of the driver.
Building the Lotus 49b
This was my first foray in the world of Ebbro kits, and from reading other experiences online, I looked forward to what I perceived to be a well made and fun model to build.
It wasn’t, for several reasons.
I’m not the most experience modeller, but I don’t mind a challenge, but when you pay a premium price for a kit, you expect the kit to be engineered to a certain standard. With this Ebbro offering, I struggled with countless mis-shapen and ill-fitting parts, which significatly impacted the enjoyment and challenge of the build.
The kit isn’t a simple one, and after careful consideration of the supplied instructions, I began with areas that could be build independently.
But as the model progressed, I found that many areas were of poor fit, or appeared to lack thought in how the kit would ‘build up’ Mis-shapen parts affected how elements attached and aligned with other sections of the car. As this kit is built around the cowling, this caused problems as those parts had already been finished.
Extra care had to be taken to not spoil all the painting work as the various elements of the model entwine around each other.
Several modifications had to be made along the way to provide an adequte finish, from skipping parts entirley to heavily modifying them due to no fit at all. I also had real trouble bonding some of the plastics together, specifically parts from sprues that had the kit chrome removed.
Too many issues from such a premium kit manfacturer.
The result may look satisfactory, but the enjoyment level in building this 1/20 car was pretty low.