In 1952, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, armed with a passion for cars and the ₤25 borrowed from his future wife, set about forming one of the most storied and eclectic car companies of the 20th century: the Lotus Engineering Company Ltd. Chapman, a brilliant engineer obsessed with lightweight construction, built racing cars that were virtually unbeatable by competitors. Like Enzo Ferrari, road cars were a means to an end that would enable him to produce revenue with which to go racing. At the 1957 Earls Court Motor Show, the Elite was introduced as Chapman’s first dedicated road car, and it was a stunning product, as it was the first car with an all-fibreglass monocoque that could also offer a drag coefficient of 0.29.
It was powered by an all-alloy Coventry-Climax FWE engine and benefitted from lightweight construction, weighing in at just 640 kg. Despite being trumpeted as a road car, it earned respect from its competition on the race track. An Elite won its first race at Silverstone in 1958 and finished an amazing 10th overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959, as well as earned one of six consecutive class wins at the endurance classic.
The car shown here is recorded in the Lotus chassis list as having been delivered on 8 August 1960 to United States distributor and renowned Lotus racing driver Jay Chamberlain, of Burbank, California. According to Lotus expert Mike Ostrov, it was owned for many years by Ed Gaines, of California, who equipped the car with a second SU carburettor, a sportier exhaust system, and a heater.
In its present European ownership, the car was totally restored and the engine was specially tuned with the use of FWB crank and rods and specially forged pistons, which had been obtained from Peakok Engineering in the United Kingdom. With the help of twin Weber carburettors, this engine, which displaced some 1.400 cubic centimetres, could produce more than 100 horsepower, with a very flat torque curve allowing for good acceleration in all conditions. The car is finished in its original colour of Old English White, with black leather upholstery and grey carpeting. Also included with the car is its original and rebuilt intake system.
Few motor cars of the 1960s provide such a direct, involved driving experience as a Lotus Elite. This restored example is ideal for the driver who enjoys being one with his automobile.
The car is offered with a French Carte Grise. A wonderful opportunity to own one of the most advanced sports cars of its era, eligible for a wide variety of the most prestigious historic events: Le Mans Classic, Goodwood, Tour Auto, Nürburgring Classic etc.
Est. 100 bhp, est. 1,400 cc SOHC inline four-cylinder Type 14 engine with two Weber DCOE carburettors, four-speed manual transmission, upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, and an anti-roll bar front suspension, Chapman struts, trailing arms, and coil-spring rear suspension, and front and rear disc brakes.
|Engine||1.400 ccm, 100+ PS, I4|
|Steering||Left Hand Drive|
|Layout||Rear Wheel Drive|
|Color - exterior||Old English White|
|Color - interior||Black leather|
|Miles/Kilometers shown||46.152 mls|
|Chassis / VIN||1336|
|Location - Country||France|
|Location - City||Nice|
2-door coupe body type; RWD (rear-wheel drive), manual 4-speed gearbox; gasoline (petrol) engine with displacement: 1400 cm3, advertised power: 100+ hp / 102+ PS, torque: 102+ Nm; characteristic dimensions: outside length: 3810 mm, width: 1473 mm, wheelbase: 2240 mm; reference weights: estimated curb weight: 640 kg; top speed: 190 km/h (118 mph) (declared by factory); accelerations: 0- 60 mph 9.8 s; 0- 100 km/h 10.7 s