Introduction

The Lotus Elite type 14 (not to be confused with the later Elite type 75) was the first GT Lotus. It was inspirational in that it was Lotus' first GRP Monocoque with only a bonded in subframe to support engine and front suspension mounts. Styled by Peter Kirwan-Taylor & aerodynamically breathed on by Frank Costin. It had an estimated drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.29 and when finally measured was very close to that figure at ( 0.317 measured in Japan and just under 0.3 measured at MIRA). Major contributors to the prototype were Peter Cambridge, John Frayling, Albert Adams and Ron Hickman.


Powered by the Coventry Climax FWE 1220cc lightweight four cylinder single OHC engine derived originally from a two man portable fire pump. Gearbox options were ZF or BMC B series, the former being preferred for racing. The car had an all up weight (unladen but not dry) of just over 13cwt (660kg).


The Elite was first shown at the 1957 'Earls Court Motor Show' at the same time as the Jaguar E type. It was the star of the show, making the E type's lines already dated by comparison. Production started in 1959 and ceased in Jan 1964. In all, some 1015 cars were built (including kits which were offered from 1961 onwards). Some 385 cars were exported all over the world with 316 going to the USA alone, 13 to Japan, 11 to Australia and the rest to Europe. Designed as a racing car for the road the Elite is variously described as 'beautiful', 'classic with timeless lines', 'noisy harsh wolf in sheeps clothing' etc. Fitted with discs all round the Elite will stop very quickly but requires a lot of pedal pressure unless fitted with a brake servo. The car was very successful in racing from the outset with Class wins at Le Mans every year from 1959 to 1964 inclusive. Best average speed at Le Mans for 24hrs was 99.6mph(Hobbs Gardner 1962) not bad for only 1220cc.


Milestones
1957 Car introduced at Earls Court Show.
1959 Elite available to the public.
1960 Series 2 and SE Models Introduced.
1962 Super 95 introduced.
Jan 1964 production ceased.
Initially the Series 1 car had a body built by Maximar and was supplied with a single SU carburettor fitted to the Coventry Climax FWE engine producing 75bhp. When the Series 2 car was introduced the body was built by Bristol Aircraft Plastics. The engine was fitted with twin SUs carburretors, increasing the power output to 85bhp when fitted with a four branch exhaust manifold. For the Super 95 a high lift cam and twin Webbers pushed the power up to 95bhp. Subsequently the Super 100 and Super 105 benefited from further tuning modifications. The Super cars were produced in race trim with competition alloy disc brakes hard suspension and large Le Mans filler caps. Road trim was also an option for these cars.

Information Sources
A good on line source for Elite information is the Lotus Elite site (see link page).

Other good sources of information are:

The best Elite books are by Dennis Ortenberger entitled 'The Lotus Elite' (ISBN 1 85260 100 0) first published in 1990 by Patrick Stephens Limited and printed by Bath Press, Bath, Avon. Followed by his book published in March 2002 by Coterie Press. entitled 'Lotus Elite Racing Car for the Road' (ISBN 0 930880 01 3).
A relatively unknown but beautifully prepared and illustrated Japanese book '1961 Lotus Elite' (ISBN 4 544 04035 3) written by Tadashi Morita who restored an Elite in Japan and did his own wind tunnel tests.
Road tests by John Bolster Autosport May13th 1960.
Technical Appraisal by Charles H Bulmer in The Motor dated June 22nd 1960.
Road test by The Motor of Special Eqipment (SE) version Road Test Non19/63 dated May 15th 1963.
Other less detailed references in 'The Story of Lotus' by Ian Smith published in 1970 by Motor Racing Publications.
Technical Data from 'Elite Workshop Manual'.
Type 14 Handbook by Club Elite USA Harry Hales available from Club Elite UK
'The Lotus Book' book by William Taylor (ISBN 1-902351-00-2)
'Lotus the Legend' book by David Hodges (ISBN 0-75252-074-1)
Club Elite UK keeps a worldwide register contact the Secretary John Mead by email on johnmead@lotuselite.freeserve.co.uk .

UK experts are Miles Wilkins 01243 554422, David 01494 880583 and for engine spares Tony Mantle 01386 852725


Statistics
Please see below for the Lotus Elite's statistics. Please note that the source of the performance data is sometimes official Lotus Cars data and sometimes independent magazine review data.

Name Production Years Max. Power bhp Max. Torque lb.ft Top Speed mph 0-60mph sec Comment
Elite S1 1957-1960 71@6100rpm 77@3750rpm 113 13.2s Maximar body & Single Carburretor.
Elite S2 1960-1963 83@6250rpm 75@3750rpm 118 11.1s Bristol Body & Twin carburretors.
Elite SE 1960-1963 85@6300rpm ?@?rpm 118 10.7s Twin carburretors & 3 B HL cam 360.
Super 95 1962 95@7000rpm ?@?rpm 125 7.9s NACA Duct.
Super 100 1962 100@7200rpm ?@?rpm 130 6.6s 5B cam 105/1.
Super 105 1963 105@7300rpm ?@?rpm 137* 6.4s* 5B cam 105/1.
Hobbs 1961   108@7300rpm ?@?rpm 141 9.9s Mecha-Matic box.

Note Figures marked thus * are estimated. Super 100 figures are for LOV1 stripped for racing. No doubt road cars were heavier and slower. The Hobbs Gardner Elite was 8th overall and 1st in Class at the 1962 Le Mans averaging 99.4mph for 24hours. The Le Mans Cars (106BHP) were frequently timed down the Mulsane at 140mph.


Author: Bill Andrews