A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
The Lotus Elite, when first launched in 1958, put Colin Chapman and Lotus cars very firmly on the map. It utilised a 'monocoque construction' which meant there was no separate chassis and the body was 'load bearing', and whilst this was becoming accepted practice, the Elite was the first time it had been attempted in glass-fibre. When combined with independent sporty suspension, a ZF gearbox, disc brakes, a Coventry Climax all aluminium engine, and a very low drag coefficient of just 0.29 - it made for a great drivers car. So much so, that by production end in 1963 over one thousand had been produced and Lotus was now a credible British sports car manufacturer. This particular car became the property of Dick Crosthwaite (he of the famous 'Crosthwaite and Gardener' engineering company) as he was originally searching for an inlet manifold for a Coventry Climax engine and the one he eventually found was still attached to this car, 413 RDT! He then started to accumulate other parts to add to his store in the hope of fully restoring the little Lotus over time. These included a new ZF gearbox, Borrani wire wheels, and various new/old stock original components. However Dick's busy and successful business life prevented him from making much progress, so he eventually parted with the car in 2009 when our vendor commenced a thorough and complete total rebuild. He took enormous trouble to recreate the car authentically but with period upgrades and also to the highest of standards - sourcing all parts carefully and sparing no expense. The car now presents superbly with excellent shut lines, the paint shines deeply (having been soda blasted back to the original gel coat before painting), the stainless steel trim shines brightly, and the freshly trimmed interior in Air Force Blue leather and Cornflower Blue carpets looks superb. Under the bonnet sits the 1500cc "FWB" engine with a steel crankshaft, Arrow Rods and Arias pistons with a 5-bearing cam and adjustable timing wheel mated to a new ZF 4-speed gearbox, an aluminium radiator with an effective fan, a long-range aluminium fuel tank and braided brake and fuel lines finish off the stunning rebuild. The monocoque is original - not one of the later reproduced versions, as is the gearbox. The engine is also an original road engine, not a converted pump engine. Since completion the car has covered just 879 miles, including a 300 mile very recent round trip to Castle Combe to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Elite. This is now a great opportunity to buy a real "racing car for the road", just as Colin Chapman always intended.