1962 Lotus Type 14 Elite Series II Coupé
Chassis no. 1825
Colin Chapman was anxious that his embryo company should have a firm commercial foundation upon which to survive and grow. To provide this he created the Type 14 Elite as a road-come-racing Grand Touring Coupé.
Chapman's structural concept was breathtakingly futuristic by the standards of the mid-1950s. The finished Elite's exquisite styling is credited to Lotus owner and accountant Peter Kirwan-Taylor while aerodynamicist Frank Costin is said to have advised upon the finished shape. Chapman was able to prevail upon Leonard Lee, head of the Coventry Climax engine company, to enlarge the basic 4-cylinder single overhead-camshaft FWA engine to displace 1216cc, thus placing the finished car within the up to 1300cc category of International competition.
The original intention had been to enter a Lotus Elite in the 1957 Le Mans 24-Hour race, but in fact the first running prototype was not available until the Geneva Salon of March, 1958. Private owner Ian Walker won at Silverstone in the May meeting of 1958 and when Jimmy Clark drove one against Colin Chapman in another at Boxing Day Brands Hatch the engineer recognized latent potential in the young Scots sheep farmer...1959 Le Mans 24-Hour race saw Peter Lumsden/Peter Riley wining their class and Lotus Elites went on to win their class at Le Mans for the following four years.
This superb example was originally sold by importer Hans Maasland (owner-driver of the lovely Lotus 27 single-seater offered today as Lot 254) and is the only Lotus Elite ever sold new in the Netherlands.
The first owner was Dutch enthusiast Cees Hellinga who raced the car extensively in national events, wearing prominent Gulf Oil branding. Unfortunately Mr Hellinga crashed the car heavily due to an un-tethered front brake pipe. The crashed car was then bought by a fellow enthusiast in Rotterdam. The car's left-rear and roof had suffered particularly badly in the incident and a new body acquired as the basis of a complete rebuild. As is so often the case, that owner then ran out of both time and money and decided to advertise the complete kit of components for sale in around 1986. Olav Glasius saw the advertisement in a copy of the newspaper 'Der Telegraaf', noting the admonishment not to telephone "before 18.00 hours". He recognized the quoted telephone number as being in Rotterdam, so drove there before beginning to call the number at 17.45 hours. The moment the vendor answered he was able to "nip round the corner and secure the car".
The kit of parts included not only the new replacement body but also the still damaged original. After careful consideration Mr Glasius decided that the original left-hand drive shell was indeed the better proposition to repair and restore, selling the second bodyshell unused. During that period he owned and raced four other Lotus Elites, and after initially having this bodyshell restored in the Netherlands he then commissioned well-known British specialists Ken and Neil Myers to carry out a comprehensive rebuild to running order in concours condition.
The original Coventry Climax FEW single overhead-camshaft engine was with the 'kit' acquired in the Rotterdam purchase and it was also been overhauled to exquisite running order. Most unusually, the car features a full set of original tools a rare feature fully in keeping with its overall exceptional condition.
As now offered here this very special Lotus Elite has benefited from "a total last nut and bolt" restoration carried out in the Myers' Northampton workshop. The project was completed as recently as 2005 and the finished car has not been used on the road since.
Today the revolutionary Lotus Elite is rightly revered as an innovative landmark design in the finest Lotus tradition, and concours-standard examples such as '1825' now offered here are an asset to the collection of any true Grand Touring car connoisseur. Here indeed is a car which far transcends the 'ordinary' bounds of enthusiasm for the Lotus marque alone...