Colin Chapman’s new sports car for 1956 was the Lotus Eleven, built around a steel tubular space-frame with stressed aluminium panels weighing in at only 70lbs (30Kg). Independent front suspension and a De Dion rear axle were clothed in a sleek aluminium body designed by aerodynamicist Frank Costin. The car was primarily designed for the 1,100cc class with a Coventry Climax FWA (although engine sizes ranging from 750 to 1,500cc were used) and in this configuration the slippery little car had an all up weight of just 850lbs (400Kg).
The Eleven proved enormously successful winning around 150 races in its first year including a class win and seventh overall at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Another Eleven, modified by Costin with a bubble canopy over the cockpit was driven by Stirling Moss at Monza setting a series of closed track world speed records. The 1,100cc car covered 100km at 135mph with a fastest lap of 143 mph (230 km/h)
In the spring of 1957, after about 150 cars had been produced, a new version of the Eleven was introduced as the Series 2. The main difference was the Lotus 12-type double A-arm front suspension that gave the car more forgiving and consistent handling but there were also improvements to the chassis and a stronger drivetrain allowed the car to utilise larger engines.
This car, chassis FST1936, is a Series 2 “Le Mans” from 1957 was originally supplied with a 1,220cc Coventry Climax FWA engine. In 1963 it was road registered and at a later date the FWA was replaced by a Ford 105E, the car comes with the original buff log book.
In the early 1970s Chris Alford acquired the car and raced it extensively in historic events in the UK before selling it to renowned racing engineer Neil Twyman. The car had been fitted with a fibreglass body at some stage and Twyman commissioned Len Pritchard, of original body builders Williams & Pritchard, to make a new aluminium body on the original bucks. As a cobbler’s children never have shoes Twyman’s own cars are necessarily at the back of the queue for preparation and it was the late 1990s before the Eleven’s total restoration was complete. Now resplendent in bright yellow, fitted with a period correct 1,500cc Coventry Climax FWB and an MGA close ratio four speed gearbox FST1936 has been raced throughout Europe for the past two decades.
Regularly invited to the Goodwood Revival and the Le Mans Classic this is the perfect late Fifties sports car for the discerning driver who wants to race at thoroughbred events across the globe.