With the Lotus 14 of 1959 – better known as the Elite – Colin Chapman demonstrated that his skills as a racing car designer and constructor could just as easily be applied to production road cars.
Just as innovative as Lotus’s outright competition cars, the Elite featured a fibreglass monocoque body tub, independent suspension all round (based on that of Lotus’ racing monopostos’) and four-wheel disc brakes, the rears mounted inboard. Its engine was the four-cylinder Coventry-Climax FWE, a single-overhead-cam unit, while the gearbox, an MGA unit fitted with an alloy casing and modified bellhousing, was sourced from BMC.
The classically-styled body – the work of stylists Peter Kirwan-Taylor, John Frayling, and aerodynamicist Frank Costin – possessed an admirably low coefficient of drag, though it made few concessions for comfort or noise suppression. That is not likely to have bothered the Elite’s customers, for whom its 112mph top speed and superlative handling were of far greater importance than creature comforts. Indeed, so successful was the Elite on the racetrack that the car dominated its class well into the 1960s. Noteworthy achievements include five class victories at Le Mans and two wins in the prestigious ‘Index of Thermal Performance’.
This fantastic Elite is in superb condition throughout and has been part of a significant private collection since 2006.The car has been restored by Lotus specialists “ Forbes” in the 1990’s before being sold by respected Lotus expert, Paul Matty Sportscars, to a Scottish enthusiast in 1996. This gentleman retained the car for the next decade and clearly looked after it very carefully, whilst using it minimally. During his ownership, the drivetrain was rebuilt by Lotus guru D’Angelo Engineering of which the invoices for this work are documented in the car’s file.
This car is a true delight to drive with an unmatched litheness and balance and wonderful positive feel. Despite being essentially a racing car on the road, it is perfectly tractable and refined with perfect communication between car and driver. It remains in superb condition throughout appearing much as it did when new some 53 years ago. Rare to find such a spectacular car with such provenance and careful ownership, it is an opportunity not to be missed.