For any readers who live under a social media rock and missed the onslaught of influencers posting about the newly unveiled Radford 62-2, this retro-styled and Lotus-based sports car hails from a revived British coachbuilder operating under new ownership. The sleek lines and enhanced performance represent an inaugural partnership for the new (old) brand that plans to expand, much like the original founder Harold Radford's numerous projects, into an entire lineup of custom creations based upon at least three other manufacturer platforms.

However, other than the project's public faces including Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button and reality TV presenter Ant Anstead, the public debut caused plenty of confusion about what, exactly, is going on under the 62-2's sleek skin. Is it more closely related to the new Emira, its Evora predecessor, the Evija EV, or an Exige? How much Lotus and how much 'other' fits into the mix? And will it head straight to the track or somehow acquire street-legal status?

Luckily, I recently caught up with Anstead and Button as they uncovered a new livery for the 62-2 on the Lotus display at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in Monterey. Surrounded by the world's greatest cars, both old and new, the Radford certainly drew a crowd as I checked it out up close and quizzed them, as well as their business advisor and lawyer Roger Behle, about the project's relatively recent inception.

Reviving A Legendary Motorsports Brand

Radford 62-2 Jenson Button Ant Anstead 2
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

As Behle tells the story, the Radford team assembled around Anstead as he began planning a new season of Ant Anstead Master Mechanic for MotorTrend.

"We talked to Lotus," Behle remembered, "And said we’d like to do the next series, signed with Lotus, and they said, 'Great!' And then, enter Mark Stubbs, who said, 'I’m a car designer and I think I could design a really cool car for you. We might want to sell 'em!' So that started the trio and then we added Jenson to the mix."

The group of four quickly evolved from producing an automotive TV show to forming a company and reviving one of the UK's most historically significant automotive names.

"Here we are, 18 months later," Behle continued, barely believing his own eyes, "With a car on the lawn at The Quail, exceeding expectations."

"It’s been super fast," Anstead jumped in, "When you consider most brands are putting in five-year lead times. Building cars is hard!"

From the first inkling of a Lotus-based sports car revival, limiting the decision-making to a small, nimble team allowed Radford to avoid the paralysis and delays that larger corporate conglomerates might face when approving core concepts, initiating brand partnerships, and finalizing race-inspired styling.

"I think Mark Stubbs has absolutely knocked the design out of the park," Anstead said, "Because he has a tough thing to do. First of all, he has to capture the Lotus DNA, people have to look at it and go, 'That’s a Lotus.' So he has to have half an eye on Colin Chapman, plus he has to capture Harold Radford—it has to feel different from a Lotus.​​​​​​"

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Retro Design In Partnership With Lotus

Radford 62-2 Jenson Button Ant Anstead 5
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

The decidedly retro-racer styling cues range from a wraparound cockpit reminiscent of Le Mans LMP cars to a nearly enclosed decklid and insectoid wheel arch-mounted rearview mirrors. The arc from Radford's 1960s competition cars to the new form shines through clearly, even as Stubbs updated the lines to fit a more modern aero aesthetic, with the final product looking cleaner and more cohesive while leaning only very slightly towards Hethel's current design language.

"Lotus have been so behind it," Jenson explained, "Working with an OEM and them not being supportive is never going to work. We want them involved with what we’re doing and happy with what we’re doing, as well. We don’t want to just go out on our own because they’re not going to want to put that Lotus badge on it—and they have!"

“It still amazes me that we’re on their stand, honestly," Jenson laughed. "They’ve given us their space and you’ve got Lotus on the f--king car! That’s pretty cool!"

As amazing as a central display alongside Lotus at the heart of Monterey Car Week's most exclusive event might look and feel, Anstead couched the appearance in history to reinforce the atypical nature of this entire endeavor.

"Bear in mind," he said, "Lotus is 73 years old, founded the same year as Radford in 1948. And in that 73 years, they’ve only collaborated three times: Ford Cortina, Talbot Sunbeam, Vauxhall Carlton. And the Carlton was over three decades ago!"

Almost kiddingly, Anstead also threw in that Lotus plans to usher the internal-combustion engine right out the door with a final hurrah coming in the form of the new Emira—but the limited run of Radford's 62-2 might just fit in as the last-ever gas-powered Lotus.

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Upgrading Everything On An Exige Platform

Radford 62-2 Jenson Button Ant Anstead 4
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

To clarify, however, many news outlets mistakenly reported that the Radford 62-2 shares a chassis with alternately the Evora or Emira, even though the actual underpinnings hearken from the earlier Exige. But apart from the aluminum tub and supercharged 3.5-liter V6 (which itself receives extensive work depending on customer specifications), the Radford 62-2 stands a league apart—tipping the scales at an impressive 850 pounds less than the Emira, Button claimed.

"It’s a completely different motorcar," Button explained. "Basically, the bottom end of the engine is the same and the tub is a Lotus—and the tub is fantastic, the mechanical grip that it gives us. But the rear subframe is built by us, and all of our partners bring suspension, brakes, all sorts. It’s all very different from a Lotus. They do have involvement with helping us from the engineering side of things, you can’t say no to that, the amount of years, decades of engineering they put into their cars. The chassis itself, the tub, it’s not a carbon fiber tub like a McLaren is, but it’s just as good."

"We’re not just rebodying an Exige," Anstead added, "We’ve made huge engineering changes. It’s so different from a Lotus, but it’s still Lotus."

"That’s 380 horsepower, I think," Jenson said, pointing at the Emira (available with 360 to 400 horses currently depending on the choice of a Toyota or Mercedes-AMG mill). "Our base is going to be 430. And this spec, which is the Gold Leaf, is going to be 500 horsepower. John Player Special, which is the most racey of the three, is 600 horsepower."

"There’s so much that needs to go into it when you add a hundred horsepower to a vehicle," he continued, "And that’s what a lot of people don’t realize. 'Can’t you just whack up the horsepower?' Well, you can, but nothing’s going to live past 5,000 miles."

I brought up the potential for buyers who may want to track their Radford 62-2 and feel the urge to spec a massive wing.

"For me, having a road car that has shed-loads of downforce just doesn’t work," Button responded, "Because it’s a mechanical car. Downforce is for the elite, it’s for the best in the world that can fine-tune it."

Even if Jenson wouldn't spec his own car with a wing, Radford will happily do so for customers (while internally begrudging the angular incongruence with Stubbs' retro design).

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Limited Versions Of A Limited Run Of Limited Editions

Radford 62-2 Jenson Button Ant Anstead 3
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

The fact that Radford will build every single car to the exact specs a client desires means that even the limited run of 62 cars—of which over half are already allocated—will each almost certainly end up one of a kind. And that decision sounds to have fit into the team's marketing plans from the get-go.

“People love limited editions, right?" Jenson joked. "Ferrari, they do 500 cars. It's not really limited, you can’t really do much besides change colors. Whereas this is really limited to 62 and you can do anything you want. If you want an air scoop, you can have an air scoop. If you want to change a body panel, you can. It’s not just changing the color or the trim. We’ve got a customer that wants to do a different engine, which he can, it just takes time and engineering."

At The Quail, Radford unveiled the Gold Leaf package, which sits in between the base Classic and range-topping John Player Special levels. At the moment, the Gold Leaf's wheels, brakes, rear diffuser, and potentially the front splitter will differ from the originally unveiled variant. Only 12 will ever leave the factory, but no matter how customers want to option those cars, each will retain the iconic livery hearkening back to Chapman's tobacco endorsement deal, the Type 49B car raced by Graham Hill in 1968, and the Formula 1 Lotus 72 driven by Emerson Fittipaldi and Jochen Rindt.

As much as the Radford 62-2 draws inspiration from racecars of old, the car will nonetheless remain road-legal (even in California, as I specifically inquired, thanks to an SB100 exemption that Behle claims already succeeded). Plus, concessions to modern consumer demands fit into the mix.

"It’s stripped down, 'Add lightness,'" Button said, referring to Chapman's famous mantra, "But every mod-con that you want—it’s got A/C. The windows are going to be slide-down, so you can get your McDonald’s when you want. It doesn’t have a handle, it slides like an F40 basically, so you can just fit your Starbucks."

At the mention of coffee, I asked the obvious and most important question of the day: what about cupholders?

"We’re still fighting over this," Button revealed, "Because Ant doesn’t want cupholders, Mark doesn’t want cupholders, I do want cupholders. Even if it’s like that sack cupholder you get in the G-Wagen. We went to Koenigsegg yesterday and the new Koenigsegg has 8 cupholders, four for hot drinks and four for cold drinks—we probably won’t do that."

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Expect To Hear More From Radford Soon

Radford 62-2 Jenson Button Ant Anstead 6
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

Button, Anstead, and Behle also confirmed, albeit loosely, plans to expand beyond Lotus and the 62-2.

"Radford will, in time, reveal collaborations with other brands," Behle teased, "This is the first of many. Lotus has been fantastic, absolutely phenomenal from day one to right now, phenomenal support. But there will be more to follow."

"We have already secured the next Radford," Anstead chimed in, "We can’t tell you what it is but we can say it’s not a sports car."

"It’s going to be the most popular Radford," Behle responded, "In my opinion."

"No," Anstead quipped, "Number three is going to be the most popular."

“No, number four is!" Button added, half seriously.

Whether the purposeful teasing proves true or not, the guessing games can begin immediately (and for context, Harold Radford's historical projects included the likes of Mini, Aston Martin, Bentley, and even the original Ford GT40 prototype). In the meantime, the non-running Radford 62-2 on display at The Quail featured limo-tinted windows because it lacked an interior. But the guys promised the production interior will blow us all away.

"One thing I will say," Button told me, "You will love the dials. Amazing detail."

"Get ready for more heritage!” Behle threw in.

"I can’t wait for you to sit in it, before you even drive it," Button boasted. "Just the wheel arches, you feel like you’re going down the Mulsanne Straight."

Sources: radford.co, lotuscars.com, peninsula.com, and motortrend.com.

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