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Lotus Elite (1958 - 1963)

Last updated 29 November 2013

 
5
Beautiful, amazing chassis, and uncorrupted steering, a driver's car almost beyond compare
Noisy, cramped and patchily-built

Introduction

Alternatively known as the Lotus 14, the Elite was part of a two-pronged attack (along with the Eleven) by Lotus on the sports car market. The two cars couldn’t be more different, though – with the sublime Elite contrasting nicely with the stark track biased Eleven. The Elite was Chapman's first attempt at a true road car, and it was judged to perfection. Technically, it was a fantastic, featuring the world's first glass fibre monocoque, made by Bristol Aircraft in England. The Elite was aerodynamic (0.26cd), attributable to its stylist, Peter Kirwan Taylor. The sleek little GT took the 1957 London Motor Show by storm.

Coventry Climax engines were used, and S2 cars had optional twin-carburettors. The 1962 SE had 85bhp, on tap while the Super 95, Super 100 and Super 105 Elites had were named according to their power outputs. Using independent wishbone/coils at the front and Chapman struts at the rear, the mechanical components were bolted through the glassfibre, with metal inserts at mounting points. The ride was firm, but fabulously well damped, handling was amazing, and disc brakes were fitted to all round. However, it was also noisy and harsh, with plenty of vibration from the poorly ventilated monocoque shell.

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