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First production Lotus Elite to auctioned at NEC show

Published 26 October 2016

The very first production Lotus Elite, bought new by jazz legend Chris Barber, and recently restored for Channel 4’s For the Love of Cars, is heading for sale. The Elite will be part of Silverstone Auctions Classic Motor Show Sale on 12 November at the NEC, Birmingham.

The ‘For the Love of Cars’ production team will be attending the auction to film the sale as it unfolds, with the episode due to be broadcast shortly after on Channel 4.

The 1958 Lotus Elite Series I, chassis 1009, is the very first Elite produced as a proper production vehicle, unlike the previous eight examples produced as pre-production prototypes, and was used by Lotus as a display vehicle at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show.

It was then purchased by one of Colin Chapman’s most favoured customers and personal friend, jazz musician Chris Barber, on New Year’s Eve of the same year, then embarking on an incredible race history.

CB23-silverstone -crop

Barber raced the Elite extensively for five seasons in top level international sportscar racing, in both the UK and Europe. As well as competing in three consecutive Tourist Trophy races at Goodwood in 1961, 1962 and winning its class in 1963 with Mike Beckwith, the Elite raced at the Nurburgring and in the British Empire Trophy. 

During this period it was also driven regularly by Sir John Whitmore, the 'Racing Baronet', who famously broke the class lap record at Spa with ‘CB 23’ while on his way to class victory in the Grand Prix GT Support Race of 1962. Other notable drivers who drove the car include Bob Olthoff.

Today, at the age of 58 and after several years in storage, the Elite has just emerged from a top quality, exacting nut and bolt restoration by Ant Anstead’s team with assistance from top Lotus marque experts, all filmed as part of a one off Lotus special For the Love of Cars.

Ant Anstead explains, 'Every detail of this car has been restored as new using only top quality components, and with race scrutineering in mind. The result is car that is a joy to behold and a thrill to drive. I raced the car in the Tourist Trophy at this year’s Silverstone Classic and I couldn’t be more proud.'

Ant -with -CB23-pic -john -lakey

Ant Anstead’s restoration involved stripping the car to a bare monocoque, fitting a full, FIA approved roll cage accompanied by an FIA homologated Tillett B6F Carbon-GRP racing seat, TRS belts, bespoke fuel system avoiding the notorious “wing tank” that remains fitted.

The engine was rebuilt by Coventry Climax specialist, Glyn Peacock, to his full race 'all steel' specification and a pair of weber 40 carbs, the original MGA sourced gearbox was rebuilt by well-known specialist Mike Jennings, and new wheels, from specialist MWS, were fitted with the correct Dunlop racing tyres. Every inch of this car has been accounted for.

Presented now in stunning period UDT Green, the time has come for the car to find a new home and it will go under the hammer at the NEC estimated at between £75,000 and £100,000.

Speaking ahead of the sale of the car, Silverstone Auctions managing director, Nick Whale, said, “This car represents a unique proposition for buyers either wanting to race in top level historic motor sport or add to a stable of historically interesting cars. Its history and provenance make this Elite one of the most famous in the world and it would be welcome at any prestigious historic race meeting or show worldwide.”

For more information on the car and Silverstone Auctions’ sale at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show visit


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