1959 Lotus Elite S-1

Consider the time, 1957. Colin Chapman's Lotus cars are already a factor in small displacement sports-racing and formula cars. Chapman decides to apply their basic structure to a world-beating GT car, the Lotus Elite. Typically Lotus, Chapman doesn't follow convention. Instead, he designs the first all-fiberglass monocoque two-seat coupe, a concise, sensually beautiful, aerodynamic confection penned by Peter Kirwan-Taylor (an accountant, no less) and vetted by coachwork genius Frank Costin. It's not only pretty, it's also efficient, with a nearly impossible drag coefficient of 0.29 and stability in crosswinds and cornering that defied accepted standards. Power came from Chapman's favorite Coventry Climax engine, specially tailored to the Elite's needs and called the FWE, "Feather Weight Elite." The only other fiberglass sports car of significance, Chevrolet's Corvette, had a separate body and frame (the latter borrowed from a 1953 production sedan.) Chapman's Elite had 4-wheel independent suspension, weighed close to nothing, was so svelte a lighted match didn't blow out at speed when the windows were removed (to save weight they didn't roll down and give drivers more elbow room) and had 4-wheel disc brakes. The Lotus Elite was, and still is, one of the seminal designs in the automobile's history, something so different, advanced, innovative and visionary that its importance is undeniable. So important is the Elite that something like half of them still survive, but few of them are as thoroughly restored, documented and handsomely presented as this one. A right-hand drive model, it is finished in silver-grey with gunmetal grey roof that subtly enhances the svelte, purposeful, aerodynamic design of Chapman's Elite and is attractively set off by black upholstery, chrome wire wheels, grey carpets and an engine turned instrument panel. Its documentation includes a complete ownership history from 1967, MOT test records from 1970, notes through the years, period magazine articles, and photos of the car before, during, and after its restoration in the late 90's by Dave Bruzas in the UK. Its Coventry Climax FWE engine is backed up by the desirable ZF 4-speed gearbox and a high capacity aluminum radiator augments the engine's cooling. The engine bay and trunk are fully detailed and correct. An important example of one of the seminal designs in sports car history, it will delight its next owner with its condition, history, documentation and -- most of all -- its deft, precise, responsiveness and handling.

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