“Less is more”- The adage that has hurled lotus to the forefront of automotive design. Combining lightweight structures with slippery bodywork and ample power has always been the DNA of the once small car company from the North of London. From the Mark 1 through the Mark 10 the cars changed in little ways always nipping at the times on a stopwatch around tracks. The Lotus 11 embodies the purity of Lotus’s original design exercises and its intent as a manufacturer. To go fast, be cost effective, and win. Debuting in 1956 the Lotus 11 offered a diverse platform for those who wanted to enjoy a track day or privateer entries all the way to well healed professional racing teams who were after the 1100 & 1500 class wins at LeMans. Offered in Sport, Club, and LeMans versions the Eleven could be fitted with a variety of engines from the Coventry Climax FWA 1100cc all the way to a Maserati 150S 1500cc engine. The eleven was no doubt a force to be reckon with in its time and today offers tremendous value and qualification for some epic events, worldwide.
The example on offer, a 1956 Lotus 11, Chassis # MKII234 is offered in traditional Lotus BRG (British Racing Green) over a Red interior and Red dash. Exact ownership history is not known at this time. Further inquiry is being made and any findings will be posted. We do know that the car has recently come from an estate in California and the most recent owner was a collector and the long time owner of this example, having restored it a few years ago. The car appears correct in most ways and is fitted with all of the right equipment per a “club” eleven. Most of these cars were fitted with a Coventry Climax FWA 1100cc engine but many upgraded to an FWA 1200cc engine amongst others. Seldom are these cars numbers matching, and seldom have these cars seen light use over the years. Many have been wrecked, modified, crashed in one form or another or altered from their original state. These were after all competitive race-cars in period and were very effective. As such, this example shows to have had some work completed here and there over the years, but nothing obviously extensive or questionable for such a delicate car.
Cosmetically, the car appears to be recently restored with consistently shiny and deep paintwork throughout, nicely finished and show worthy for an Eleven. The panel fitment for a Lotus is acceptable and all of the various components specific to these cars (which isn’t many) are all present. The interior is very Spartan with simple seats in good condition, dash fascia nicely finished, restored/correct gauges and everything appears in working order with the exception of the tachometer which needs the drive fixed at the housing. The underside of the dash shows the extensiveness of the restoration with everything nicely painted and detailed and nothing out of place.
Upon inspecting the engine bay the theme of a fresh and clean restoration is ever present. There are no obvious signs of serious accident damage, and all of the various hardware and parts are correctly coated. The FWE 1200cc engine currently fitted does not match the original VIN tag stating a different engine number. However, it is seldom that these cars do have a numbers matching engine. It is fitted with the appropriate Weber DCOE40 Carburetors but otherwise apart from internals appears to be very stock and simple with no extensive modification. Removal of the rear body section reveals a correct MGA type rear end (mated to an MGA transmission) and just about nothing else beyond the essentials. Again, nicely restored, clean and without any major issues noted.
The Lotus 11 is no doubt an absolute purpose built tool to win, or if nothing else, to go fast and have fun on the track. While this car is nicely restored and impressive in terms of quality it should be noted that it has been sitting for some time. It runs and drives in its current state, sounds very strong with good oil pressure while holding steady temperature. However, it is recommended that the car receive a proper servicing and perhaps new tires to be considered track ready as the hydraulics do feel week from sitting. No doubt a superb example but in need of standard updates/service from a few years in storage.
Going vintage racing almost always equates to “more is more”; no doubt it is expensive. The Lotus 11 offers the “less is more” design theory but it also offers a fairly cost effective way to go have some great fun at minimal cost compared to the alternatives in the vintage racing world. If nothing else, it will make a truly spectacular addition to any collection and is an icon worth much consideration by any onlooker.