1956 Lotus Eleven 1.5-Litre Sports-racer
Chassis no. 231
Engine no. 11686GE
In 1956 Colin Chapman's Lotus Engineering Company introduced the beautiful Lotus Eleven competition sports car, replacing the earlier Marks IX and X. The newcomer's aerodynamic, Frank Costin-designed body was an improvement on that of the Mark IX's while Chapman's new multi-tubular spaceframe chassis was reinforced by a stressed-skinned transmission tunnel. Front suspension followed established Lotus principles with long swing axles. Three alternative types were offered: the De Dion rear-suspended 'Le Mans' model for those who wished to go racing at a serious level; the live-axle 'Club' version for the less ambitious racer; and the similar 'Sport' for any customer who merely required a fast, tractable and exceedingly handsome road car. Ford and Coventry Climax (single and twin-cam) engines were available in varying stages of tune, while for racing purposes a wrap-around windscreen, head fairing and metal tonneau cover for the passenger compartment could be supplied.
Lotus Elevens won 148 races and achieved a further 233 podium finishes in 1956, including winning the 750-1,100 cc class at Le Mans where Reg Bicknell/Peter Jopp's car finished 7th overall. Other drivers included Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, Innes Ireland, Archie Scott-Brown and Chapman himself. At Monza, a standard Le Mans model fitted with a Weber-equipped 1,098cc Climax engine and 'bubble' cockpit canopy lapped at 143mph and took seven speed records. In 1957 the works-entered cars finishing 1st, 2nd and 4th in the 1,100 cc class at Le Mans and 1st and 2nd on 'Index of Performance'.
Manufactured in May 1956, chassis number '231' originally formed part of a batch delivered to Jay Chamberlain, the California-based Lotus distributor for North America. The car was originally fitted with a 1,100cc Coventry-Climax FWA engine but now has the 1,460cc FWB unit installed. In 2008 the Lotus was restored by GT Label of Ronchin, France and after completion featured in Sport Auto magazine (February 2009 edition). The article states that '231' has been upgraded with the superior wishbone/coil spring front suspension of the 'Series 2' version first seen in 1957.
The Eleven was acquired by the present owner in 2010 and is currently registered in France. Finished in bare aluminium with red leather interior, the car is described as in generally very good condition and offered with valid French Carte Grise de Collection. It is, of course, eligible for a wide variety of the most important historic motor sports events.
Construit en mai 1956, le châssis n° '231' fit partie initialement d'un lot de voitures livrées à Jay Chamberlain, distributeur Lotus pour l'Amérique du Nord basé en Californie. La voiture qui était à l'origine équipée d'un moteur Coventry Climax FWA de 1,100 cm3 est dotée actuellement d'un moteur type FWB de 1,460 cm3. En 2008, la Lotus restaurée par GT Label à Ronchin (France) apparut dans le magazine Sport Auto de février 2009. L'article précise que '231' a bénéficié d'une suspension avant à triangles et ressorts hélicoïdaux améliorée de la version Série 2 apparue en 1957.
L'Eleven achetée par l'actuel propriétaire en 2010 est immatriculée en France. Sa carrosserie en aluminium poli s'accompagne d'un intérieur en cuir rouge. La voiture est décrite comme étant en très bon état général et munie de sa carte grise de collection. Elle est bien entendu éligible pour les plus importantes compétitions historiques.