Lot 312: Lotus Eleven Series 1 Sports-Racing Two-Seater
This Lotus 11 is not only one of the best known examples of the legendary Colin Chapman's most beautiful front-engined sports-racing car design but it is also a car which has been in its present ownership for no fewer than 30 years. During this period it has competed in more then 250 Historic sports car races on the world's leading motor racing circuits, including Silverstone, Goodwood, Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Donington Park and Oulton Park in the UK, plus the Nurburgring in Germany, the Monte Carlo street circuit in Monaco, Zolder and Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Zandvoort in Holland, Vancouver in Canada, and at such American venues as Laguna Seca, Phoenix, Willow Springs, Portland, Tacoma and Palm Springs.
The car has been proved itself a Historic and Vintage racing front runner and winner. It took the checkered flag first at the pioneering Monaco Historic Grand Prix meeting of 1983, and it won its capacity class in the fondly-remember British Lloyds & Scottish Championship race series of 1981-83. It competed in the British Grand Prix support races of those years at both Brands Hatch and Silverstone, and set new class lap records at Brands Hatch and Donington Park.
It attracts high acclaim from the famously critical Victor Thomas, the highly-regarded British Lotus 11 Registrar, who explains that this is a very well-known and well regarded Historic sports-racing car which has been nicely restored from a very original 1956 example acquired by the present vendor in the UK during a period when the values of these machines was very low compared with modern times.
Most importantly, in common with many examples of the Lotus Eleven which were built in effect from kits of parts by enthusiastic 1950s club racers, the very original car then acquired did not have a chassis plate attached. Unless the cars had been road-registered as new, and contemporary UK purchase tax paid upon them, it was absolutely customary for sports-racing cars of that era not to bear formal chassis numbering. Unless the car was going to be taken abroad by serious international racers there were no Customs inspections to be survived, and there were numerous cases of British club racers simply using the engine number as their car's ID should they ever be sufficiently unfortunate to be stopped by the Police, and in those pre-computerized record-keeping days many simply applied the road registration license plate numbers of their everyday shopping street car!
We understand that in this case when the car was re-registered by the vendor under the UK serial 'XMA 818' the chassis serial no. '184' was adopted, since it was known to be missing from the list of surviving numbered Elevens. Victor Thomas now tells us that the original car bearing that chassis plate has emerged, but he is adamant that this in no way detracts from the original derivation of the car now offered here. "I am sure it's a real Eleven, from period, it's just that we have never been able to identify which one".
The immortal and sublimely beautiful Lotus Eleven was the 1100-1500cc sports-racing model which really established designer Colin Chapman's Lotus Engineering Company Ltd as a serious manufacturer of customer production competition cars. After some 150 Eleven 'Series 1' cars such as this - had been produced, a 'Series 2' variant was introduced in the Spring of 1957. By the end of production during 1958, some 270 Lotus Elevens had been completed. They combined an extremely lightweight yet rigid multi-tubular spaceframe chassis designed by master-stressman Colin Chapman with the ageless aerodynamic bodywork styled by De Havilland Aeroplane Company aerodynamicist Frank Costin. In period the Lotus Elevens absolutely dominated the sports-racing class in which they competed, not only in their home market of Great Britain but also in the countries of Continental Europe, in the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. For many enthusiasts the exquisitely proportioned Lotus Eleven is the epitome of the smaller-capacity class front-engined sports-racing car. Fitted most commonly with the 1100cc overhead-camshaft Coventry Climax 4-cylinder racing engine these cars are easy and inexpensive to prepare and maintain, and they are most definitely immensely enjoyable and rewarding cars to drive not only in competition, but also on the public road. If ever there was a street car named desire and one which is also begging for someone just to race the doors off it it is this Lotus-Climax Eleven.
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