An overview of The Lotus Elite Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical information of the inaugural version in the Lotus range.
In this report, I provide a nostalgic look at the Lotus Elite, among an elite group of classic cars, which was fabricated during the period 1957 to 1962.
In 1956, Colin Chapman created the Lotus Elite sports car for a street car, in the first case.
The first two door, two seater prototype was presented in the 1957 Earls Court Motor Show in London.
After its introduction, the Elite spent a further year undergoing a programme of development before production.
It was the very first production car to be constructed with a fibreglass monocoque construction.
It succeeded the Lotus Seven, with its own sheet metal body and tubular space frame chassis.
On the other hand, the Elite was a trendy, fixed head coupe, with a drag coefficient of just 0.29, which was surprisingly low for this time.
Also known as the Lotus 14, it was launched in 1959, and has been conceived as a contest sports car.
The standard version used an aluminum, 1216 cc, directly 4-cylinder, overhead cam, Coventry Climax engine, creating 71 bhp, and using a single SU carburettor.
The four wheel independent suspension used coil springs in the front, and a kind of MacPherson strut in the rear. The steering was Rack and Pinion.
A higher performance, special equipment (SE) version was introduced in 1960, also featured a ZF gearbox, two SU carburettors, and a modified exhaust manifold, which developed 85 bhp.
This was followed by the Elite Super 95 version, which developed 95 bhp from a greater tuned engine, using a higher compression ratio, and a modified camshaft.
Limited edition variants included the Super 100 and Super 105 models, fitted with two, twin choke Webber 40DCOE carburettors, creating 130 bhp and 137 bhp respectively, and made specifically for racing.
The Elite utilized a glass reinforced plastic (GRP) monocoque body structure, together with the front part of the structure containing a steel subframe, which affirmed the engine and front suspension.
Maximar Mouldings, a famous boat builder, have been given the first contract to construct the first 250 body structures, giving rise to the Series 1 Elite.
This utilized a single SU carburettor, had a compression ratio of 10.0:1, also gave an overall fuel consumption of 40 mpg.
As a consequence of early difficulties, this work was then handed over to the Bristol Aeroplane Company, who made both a lighter and more powerful structure, which was designated the Series 2.
This version was fitted with two SU carburettors.
The Series 2 featured an improved rear suspension, with updates being made to the inside panels, in addition to increasing the amount of engine tuning.
But, there were early failures in Bristol in connection to the mounting points for the differential and rear suspension, but these were soon rectified with the addition of metal reinforcements in the weak points.
Subsequently, manufacturing methods were refined so that these inserts were no longer required.
However, the problems related to GRP were, at the moment, still not entirely understood, with the consequence that it wasn’t unusual for the suspension attachment points to pull away in the fibreglass structure.
Further, a variety of elements situated in the drivetrain were exposed to high levels of anxiety, which necessitated regular re-greasing.
The Elite was offered as a kit car, which was considered as a mistake for a business about itself as a top quality manufacturer.
It’s been estimated that Lotus dropped #100 on each Elite constructed, because of the fact that the automobile was underpriced, quality control was poor, and the manufacturing process was too expensive for a business that has been, in effect, underfunded.
Its racing accomplishments included six Class wins in the Le Mans 24 hour race, and two wins at the Index of Thermal Performance.
Maybe this stroll down memory lane might have replied, or at least shed light on, a possible question:
Which Morgan Sports Car is Your Favorite?
However, should this query still remain unanswered, I will be reviewing, in some detail, in future content in this website, the whole variety of Morgan sports cars that were featured in the unforgettable era spanning 1911 to 1996.