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 beautiful matching numbers late Series I example resided in the United States for many years before being repatriated into the EU. The Elite has enjoyed a huge amount of restoration works, supported by many bills for works completed. With just 300 miles recorded post-restoration, and beautifully finished in red with a tan leather interior, this really is an exceptional example of a ground-breaking sportscar.