A Historical Celebration of Road Sports Cars That Took To The Tracks...

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GT Racecar A to Z -  

Lotus 1 1950s / 1960s

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RACED : Le Mans and World Championship races

( GT 1300 class )

late 1950s to mid 1960s

ENGINE : CLIMAX 4 Cylinder 1216 cc  ( Cosworth tuned )

POWER :  98 BHP ( race tune ) .

PRODUCTION : 1030            WEIGHT :   504 KGS

PRICE :   1966 pounds ( 1959 ) built price .

also available in kit form


0 - 60 MPH :   6.6 SECONDS


( performance data by John Bolster test in `LOV1` for

Autosport , February 1961

Lotus Elites won their class at Le Mans from 1959 to 1963

, including a fine 8th overall in both 1959 and 1962.


Ian Walker gave the little car its debut in August 1958

winning the first of many National GT races. Amoungst the

winning drivers were company founder Colin Chapman  and

uture F1 World Champion a Jim Clark. The Elites international

debut came the following February at the Sebring 12 hours

with 2 works entries ( 21 st overall). Pete Lumsden and Peter

Riley placed 23rd at the Nurburgring 1000kms and followed

it with 8th on the cars Le Mans debut , one of 3 cars with

Clark and Whitmore 10th. With a power to weight ratio of

around 150 bhp per tonne it was able to win many races in

both the 1.3 and 1.6 classes with its Cosworth-tuned 1216 cc

Climax race engine against MG , Porsche 356 , Austin-Healey

and Elva competition.

In 1960 Lotus USA ran 3 cars at Sebring to a 25th place.  8

Elites ran at that years Nurburgring 1000 kms , Alan Stacey

and Wagstaff ( team Elite ) finishing 20th ahead of

Lumsden and Sargent ( Lumsden ). 4 cars ran at LeMans with

the Roger Masson car finishing 13th , one ahead of a works

car of Wagstaff and Marsh to win the class. Eleven

customer cars ran at the Tourist Trophy race with Lumsdens

car leading them home in 9th. Numerous wins in national

events in the UK , US and in Europe.

In 1961 eleven Elites ran at the Nurburgring 1000kms ,

Lumsden and Riley again the top finisher in 18th overall.

At Le Mans Elites again won the 1300 GT class , with 13th

and 14th overall finishes. Allen and Taylor the top pair out of

5 cars. Ten cars at the T.T. with Les Leston in his red

`DAD10` registered car winning the class in 7th overall.

The relationship between Lotus Grand Prix team and the

car sales were underlined when Jim Clark led 3 Elites in

at the Daytona 3-hours. Clark would win the first 3 of his

25 GP wins in the 1962 season. 2 cars at Sebring , team

Elite in 16th the only finisher in 5 cars at Nurburgring for

Wagstaff and Ferguson.

Gardner in one of 2 Lotus Engineering entered cars made it

4 class wins running at Le Mans and a second finish of 8th

overall. Nine cars at that years T.T. withTeam Elite`s Clive

Hunt the first Elite home in 7th. Elite`s Wagstaff and Baird

took 10th at the Paris 1000kms in the world Championship.

1963 , 16th for Bill Story`s car at Daytona and 2 cars at

Sebring . A 9th overall at Nurburgring was the best Elite

finish there , when the surviving Team Elite car came in after

qualifying 17th and 20th out of 69 varied and mostly bigger

engined machines. Ferguson and Wagstaff placed 10th at

Le Mans to win the class again. At the T.T.  10th overall was

enough for Beckwith to win the class against Porsche , Morgan

, TVR and MG in an up to 2000cc class.

The Elite was out of production by 1964 , replaced by the

Elan but the cars were still raced in the UK and US. Milo

Vega`s car took 16th at Daytona and for the 6th year at

Sebring. 2 retirements at the `ring and only 3 cars at the

T.T. as the car entered its inevitiable decline. Wagstaff

winning the 1.3 class in the up to 2.0 race that included the

new Elan.

The Elite had put Lotus road cars on the world map and many

of the Grand Prix drivers, future or present had tasted

success racing them. A real giant killer of a car that enjoyed

a 150-bhp race tuned engine but in a car weighing only half a

ton and with low aerodynamics.