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Lotus Eleven (1956 - 1960)

Last updated 29 November 2013

Light fantastic
Lacking in creature comforts


The Eleven featured a clever spaceframe chassis and wonderfully aerodynamic and imaginative bodywork. It was a definite fantasy car, but could be bought for realistic money – perhaps because it was really just a track car converted to everyday road use by the addition of headlights and a basic fabric roof. The perspex wraparound screen was so shallow that even drivers of a moderate height could look over it. The nose section was hinged at the front to expose the entire engine and the rear-hinged tail section provided space for the battery, spare wheel and room for a tooth brush.

Three versions of the Eleven were available: the Le Mans (with a Coventry Climax engine and a De Dion rear end), the Club (again with a Coventry Climax unit and live axle/coil springs) and the Sport (with a Ford side-valve engine and live rear axle). Series 2 cars were launched in 1957, and featured advanced wishbone and coil spring independent front suspension and strengthened rear axles. Effectively, the Eleven was a competition car and dominated the racing scene in the 1950s – with considerable success at Le Mans in 1956 and 1957.

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