The Lotus Eleven built in 1956 not only established the Company as a leader in building winning racers it actually made Lotus some money. Enough, in fact, to enable Colin Chapman to look ahead to the day he would build a road car, suitable for racing of course. The first steps he took were to define the goals and purpose of this car. First and foremost, the car would be suitable for road use and rallies, such as the Monte Carlo but also be capable of a class win at Le Mans, which in those days was the premier road racing event in the world. Chapman had ruled out steel or alloy due to the tooling costs necessary, especially for the limited production numbers he proposed. What was extraordinary was Chapman’s plan to build a fiberglass monocoque. The design would also be a coupe to ensure body/chassis rigidity despite the large openings for doors, boot and bonnet. The new car would incorporate all of Frank Costin’s aerodynamic advancements utilized on the Eleven and as a result of this it achieved an astounding 0.29 coefficient of drag. The car would have the same suspension system as the Lotus 12, the brakes would be all disc but fitted inboard at the rear. The scuttle height would be determined by the height of the Coventry Climax all alloy, single overhead cam engine. It would be the type FWE (featherweight Elite) at 1220cc. This capacity was chosen so the car could compete in the new 1300cc class at Le Mans.
Consider for a moment how advanced Chapman’s idea was. A fiberglass monocoque (never been done before), advanced aerodynamics, 4 wheel disc brakes, an all alloy engine and imminently suitable for road or track at the 24 Hours of Le Mans no less!
The car that we are offering here today, has been meticulously cared for under fortunate ownership for the past 33 years by the vendor, who as the third owner, has thoroughly enjoyed this little Elite. Originally delivered in 1962 to a county cricketer, who bought the car with his testimonial match funds, the car was then passed onto its second owner who had the car refurbished by specialist Miles Wilkins. Purchased in March 1981 by the vendor, the car competed at various circuit events, such as the HSCC Roadsports championship from 1983 until 1988. The car is fitted with a highly desirable ZF gearbox and twin Weber carburetors, which really make this a very competitive car. The car achieved several class wins with one outright win at Brands Hatch in June 1988. Subsequently, the car has had a complete restoration, with the body shell being restored by Tony Bates in 1995, with the interior being renovated with recovered seats and centre console in leather and all trim and carpets replaced. The engine has been rebuilt by Tony Mantle of Climax Engine Services at a cost of £4,400, the car’s ZF gearbox was inspected but deemed in good condition. Its clutch plate was replaced, cylinder head replaced and the car has covered under 1000 miles since its complete rebuild. Presented today in Aston Martin Celeste Blue, this car has been set up on a rolling road, with the carburation and timing set just so, and with all new chrome wire wheels, wheel spinners, wiring loom, battery, brake pipes, master cylinders, clutch slave cylinder, brake pads, handbrake cable, petrol tank, fuel lines, fuel gauge, fuel gauge sender, speedometer and rev counter drive cables, throttle cable, all new hoses and rubbers, suspension bushes, engine mounts, steering column doughnut, window frames, windscreen and rear screen, rubber surrounds and trims and new gutter trims to name a few. Sold with original buff log book, this car must be one of the finest Elites around.