1959 Lotus Elite Series I
Chassis no. 1089
Engine no. 10382
1,216cc SOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Alloy Engine
2 SU Carburetors
75bhp at 6,300rpm
4-Speed ZF Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Disc Brakes
*Expertly restored Elite
*Known history back to the 1960s
*Charming color combination
*A true and pure sports car
*Offered with extensive history file
The Lotus 14
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 fiberglass 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 of 1,216cc producing 75bhp initially, while the gearbox, an MGA unit fitted with an alloy casing and modified bell-housing, 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'.
The Motorcar Offered
Believed to have been delivered new to UK home market, the sporting Elite offered here, chassis no. 1089 was finished at the Lotus works on November 11, 1959. In the car's comprehensive history file are records dating back to 1967, with MOT test records from 1970. The car remained in the UK, where it was thoroughly restored by Lotus specialist David Bruzas in the late 1990s. Photos of the car are available from before, during and after the restoration, and show a very well-cared-for Elite prior to its restoration. During the restoration, the gearbox was thoughtfully swapped with a later and highly desirable series II Elite ZF 'box. It also appears that the original engine was replaced with a later unit during the same time.
In 2005, the Elite was exported to Texas, where it was purchased by an avid sports car enthusiast before being purchased by the consignor. Finished in the classic silver-grey color, accented by a darker gunmetal-grey roof, the Elite is presented in the same livery as the car displayed at the Elite's unveiling during the 1957 Earls Court Motor Show. The chrome wire wheels and yellow Lotus badge offer sporting looks to match the car's sprightly performance. A wonderful model suited for spirited tours or drives, these utterly intelligent sports cars are collected by enthusiasts around the world, and offer much joy for the money.