1961 Lotus Elite Series II Coupé Registration no. NNU 123 Chassis no. 1628
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. The Elite was, nevertheless, conceived with competition in mind, as Chapman had his sights set on class wins at Le Mans and the Monte Carlo Rally. Just as innovative as Lotus's outright competition cars, the Elite featured a fibreglass monocoque body tub, independent suspension all round and four-wheel disc bakes, the rears mounted inboard. Its engine was the four-cylinder Coventry-Climax FWE, a single-overhead-cam unit of 1,216cc. The classically-styled body the work of Peter Kirwan-Taylor and aerodynamicist Frank Costin and potent Climax engine provided a projectile with a 112mph top speed and superlative handling.
On the racetrack the Elite more than lived up to Chapman's expectations, scoring its first major international success at the Nurburgring 1,000km in 1959 with a class victory, winning its class at Le Mans on eight occasions from 1959 onwards and the coveted Index of Thermal Efficiency twice. The Elite remained a mainstay of GT-class racing in the UK and North America until the arrival of the Elan.
This Elite Series II was raced before being completely rebuilt in the 1990s in Germany by Horst Auer, the well-known Elite specialist. The previous owner acquired the Elite in 2001 where it achieved a good racing record including class wins in the UK, at Spa Francorchamps and Porto, driven by Andrew Colley and Chris Snowden. During that time, the car proved totally reliable and Horst Auer had recently rebuilt the engine prior to acquisition by the present owner in April 2010, while the gearbox was also overhauled and fitted with new synchros. Upon acquisition by the present owner a very active historic racer it was sent to respected race preparation and restorers Neill Twyman Ltd who checked it over prior to its first race at last year's Silverstone Classic. The Elite performed well achieving a podium position in class. Other historic racing commitments have precluded the Elite from any further track work and the vendor would rather see the car campaigned with another owner, than sit in the garage.