Born of a rich racing heritage the 1961 Lotus Elite was cutting edge technology. The cars won their class 5 consecutive times at LaMans (‘57-‘62) and were winning the hearts of drivers and fans alike.
This ‘61 Lotus Elite is one of the few surviving examples with only 1037 produced and because many were crashed during racing. Hemings estimates only 685 still exist. This well-preserved example has been cared for its entire life. Built for export with left hand drive this car is painted in charcoal grey. The car underwent a restoration in 1982 performed by Grand Prix SSR in Long Island, NY.
In 1982 the original engine was replaced with a rebuilt Coventry Climax FWE engine with twin carbs producing 95hp, 71 ft-lb of torque significant for a car that weighs only 1510 lbs. The engine runs extremely well, pulls hard through all the gears and sounds like a 60’s Ferrari when running. Induction is provided by Weber 40 DCOE carburetors, using ‘Cosworth’ style manifolds. This engine has the optional 5-bearing camshaft carrier, paired with the higher specification stock camshaft, providing .360” lift, set at a lobe center angle of 106 degrees.
In 2005 in conjunction with upgrading the gearbox from the stock MG to the optional ZF 4-speed all-synchro transmission, the engine was removed and fully sorted, to include a fresh valve job and the replacement of all bearings, gaskets, seals, rings, pumps, hoses, etc. During the reassemble, the castings were cleaned and deburred, surfaces were trued, reciprocating parts were dynamic balanced and ports were matched. The gearbox gaskets were replaced and clearances/tolerances checked. The differential output shaft bearings were replaced and clearances/tolerances checked. All u-joints were replaced, as were the inner and outer rear hub bearings and rear spline assemblies.
The car is extremely light and used a fiberglass monocoque construction Chassis Body Unit (CBU). The underside of the CBU is clean, rust free and in excellent condition. The car was extremely aerodynamic and had an incredibly low drag coefficient of 0.29, a number envied by car designers even today.
In 1982, the CBU was resprayed from its original light blue to graphite gray. The cars paint is in excellent condition for its age with surface stress crazing common on Lotus cars of this vintage or paint of this age on a fiberglass car. The car sports Lucas mirrors and all chrome bumpers, trim, badging and the door handles are in excellent condition. Window glass is in excellent condition with no rock chips or damage and rubber window seals look to be new. The car has very nice original chrome spoke wheels and excellent like new tires.
The trunk is in excellent condition and extremely clean with all carpet intact, clean and snug. Battery is located in the trunk complete with battery cover and jack.
The interior is just as it left the factory. Black vinyl seats that have never been recovered and fit like a glove with racing shoulder harnesses. The carpeting was replaced in 1982 and is in good condition. The rear compartment’s painted fiberglass surfaces have some variations in color consistency due to age. Original Lotus steering wheel in incredible condition with no cracks or damage. Dashboard finish is good and all gauges and switches work as they should.
It is an exhilarating experience driving this car and it is easy to see how these cars won in their class 5 times at the 24 hour LeMans and at many other races as well.