1958 Lotus Eleven

Series 2 Le Mans

Leaving the factory new in 1958, this Lotus Eleven Series 2 has always been a ‘Le Mans’ specification example. Always fitted with a 1,460cc Coventry Climax FWB engine and a close-ratio Austin-Healey Sprite gearbox, the Series 2 Le Mans specification also includes De Dion suspension at the rear and improved double wishbone and coil spring suspension at the front. This car has been personally known to the Historic Lotus Register Eleven Registrar, Vic Thomas, since 1973 and was in ‘exceptionally original condition’ when inspected by him.

A lengthy and thorough restoration was undertaken by a previous owner during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The car was examined by Vic Thomas during the process, which is documented by photographs and correspondence on file. The original chassis was retained and trued and bears the Historic Lotus Register’s identification plate. Its authenticity is confirmed in a letter from the Registrar dated 6th November 1991. The front and rear replacement aluminium body panels were ‘wheeled’ by Len Pritchard, the original coachbuilder, and fitted in the late 1980s. There are distinguishing historical features consisting of mounting points for twin fuel pumps, and a long-range fuel tank on the passenger side complemented by slightly shorter doors. The colour was changed during restoration from its original blue, black and white to the current Lotus British Racing Green, while the interior is in traditional red.

Although the engine fitted is not original to this particular chassis, the Coventry Climax FWB is the largest of the three types fitted in period by Lotus to the Eleven. Fitted with twin Weber 40DCOE carburettors and gear driven tachometer, this FWB race engine, prepared by Tony Mantle of Climax Engine Services, has seen relatively little use and has proved extremely reliable and very torquey. The Sprite ‘box has close-ratio, straight-cut, synchromesh gears which, combined with the 3.72:1 final drive ratio and torque of the FWB engine, have made the Lotus into a good long distance sports car.

‘USK 265’ has been used regularly as a road car, and in 2006 featured as an entrant at various important events including the award-winning Lotus display at Classic Le Mans, Her Majesty The Queen’s 80th Birthday Parade in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, and the GRRC Annual display at Goodwood House. It appeared on the Historic Lotus Register stand at the Donington Lotus Show in 2004/2005 and has also seen limited track mileage, taking part in the Eiffel Classic six years ago, demonstration laps on the full Le Mans circuit in 2004 and 2006, and testing at Goodwood circuit in 2005/2006 in addition to regular and reliable fast road use over the past four years.

Currently fitted with adjustable shock absorbers and Michelin X/ZX tyres on 48-spoke wire wheels with knock-off spinners for road use. A second set of 60-spoke wires shod with Dunlop Racing L-section tyres comes with the car. Eligible for some the most prestigious historic motor sports events and race series, ‘USK 265’ is offered with V5C registration document and FIA HVIF papers issued in UK in 1998.

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