Chassis Num: 275
Engine Num: 400-56112-3
This vehicle is a 1957 Lotus Eleven LeMans outfitted with a four-cylinder engine capable of producing 100 horsepower. It was raced by Team Lotus at the 1957 Sebring event where it was disqualified for illegal assistance. It had run out of gas and the wrong driver pushed it in. It was raced in 1957 at the Belgian Grand Prix for Sports Cars at Spa-Francorchamps where it finished in 9th place.
The following year it appeared at Sebring where it finished 3rd in class but was not classified as a finisher. The following year at Sebring it managed a 5th in Class.
The original owner was Charles Moran, Jr. He was the first American to compete at LeMans (1929). He raced at the Indianapolis 500 in 1930, and in the 1953 running of LeMans. He was the SCCA President from 1954 through 1955.
This is the only 1957 Sebring car fitted with the larger FWB (1500) engine and MGA close ratio gearbox. It is one of five Elevens using the British XAR 11 registration number - apparently none were actually legally registered! Last wide chassis Eleven of the seven built; built to comply with endurance racing cockpit width regulations. Two of the 1957 Sebring had conventional chassis - all failed cockpit height, which explains the triangular pieces on the windscreen and tail.
This car was purchased in 1971 from a junkyard in Virginia for $400. It had no engine, dashboard or electrics. It re-appeared on a race track for the first time in 1997 at the Sebring Vintage 12-Hour Support Race. It was awarded 'Best Race Car' at the 2002 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance. It was the Best Race Car at the Indianapolis Concours Grand Prix in 2003.
This is one of the original four car Lotus Team constructed for the 1957 12 hour race at Sebring. It was owned and driven by past SCCA president, Charles Moran, who was president of ACCUS at the time. Co-driver in the race was Jesse 'Doc' Wyllie. It was the only one of the team cars fitted with the larger displacement Coventry Climax FWB engine and one of two cars with the wide-chassis configuration. The American colors were specified by Moran, who had raced an American built Du Pont automobile at LeMans in 1929 and Indianapolis in 1930.
There are conflicting stories about its DNF at Sebring in 1957. Wyllie asserts the car was disqualified for illegal driver change after he took over pushing it pitward, when Moran ran short of fuel and became exhausted and overcome by the heat while pushing it back. The official record says timing gear failure.
Following Sebring the car was taken to Europe and raced at Spa (finishing ninth) and other races and hillclimbs lost in historical obscurity. The tow vehicles was a Jeep Commander in similar American livery.
The car and Moran returned to Sebring in 1958 and 1959 finishing a respectable third and fifth in class, respectively. Other racing activity was minimal, though it did run at Bridgehampton in 1958 and with its second owner, H. Warren Rohlfs, saw limited activity from 1959 through 1962 in the Northeast, still sporting the original colors and XAR 11 number plate.
Current owner, Brett Johnson, purchased the car in 1971 from a junkyard in Virginia for $400. The price reflected the sorry state in which it was found. It still had the original MGA gearbox, all of the suspension, some of the electrical components and most of the bodywork. The body had not weathered the passage of time well. The engine and dashboard were the most significant missing items.
The restoration was a slow process and the first time back on the track was in 1997 at Sebring, forty years after its first appearance. Since then much detailing has been done to put it back to its authentic 1957 appearance, a process that will likely never end.
The car has occasionally participated in vintage racing events and has been shown, as well. The on-track accomplishments are less noteworthy. An Amelia Award was received at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2000. At the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance in 2000 it won the Peter Helck Trophy for Best Race Car. It also had class wins at Ault Park in 2001 and Indianapolis in 2003.
The original owner of this race car, Charles Moran, Jr., was the first American to compete at LeMans in 1929. Specified in American colors, Chassis #275, raced at Sebring, FL in 1957 where it was disqualified for illegal assistance ran out of gas and the wrong driver pushed it in. Thereafter, this race car finished 9th at the 1957 Belgium Grand Prix for Sports Cars at Spa Francorchamps, finished 3rd in class at Sebring in 1958 and finished 5th in class at Sebring in 1959.
This 1957 Lotus Eleven LeMans race car was purchased in 1971 from a junkyard in Virginia for $400 - no engine, dashboard or electrics. Its first race after restoration was in 1997 at the Sebring Vintage 12-Hour.
This car was finished August 17, 1957 as the first of 16 Series I chassis left over from 1956. The car has split swing axle, as all Series I Bevens do, but was the first of the Series I clubs manufactured in 1957. All of the late chassis in this series of cars were made as Eleven clubs with Climax engines and drum brakes. This 1957 Lotus Eleven Series 7 carries chassis number 377. It was purchased by Bill Burnett, from Jay Chamberlain in 1958, and drive to his home in San Jose.
Successfully competed at West Coast tracks including Laguna Seca, Cotati, Stockton, Sears Point, Vaca Valley, etc. It won the 1961 Georgetown Hill Climb and was shown on the cover of Sports Car Graphic in December of 1961.
The car was sold to Larry Ansden who raced in California and is responsible for the fiberglass nose from an incident at Riverside in 1962. It was then sold to John Bolander who competed with the car until purchasing a Lotus 23. he then raced for the Lotus factory in Cortinas with john Winkleman. 377 then went to Laurie Grube who, having driven Porsches, didn't appreciate the handling.
Carl Deboer purchased 377 from Grube and drove the car on the street and some track events before selling it to Fred Bistodeau. Bistodeau started vintage racing the car. He sold the car to George Bothillier who continued racing the car with CSRG and HMSA. A slight crash at Sears Point resulted in a restoration by Mike Duffy. Mike, a former president of CSRG, sold the car to Jim Bonney who continued to race the car with CSRG and HMSA, including the Monterey Historics in 1979. Jim sold the car to Jim Williams, Seneca, South Carolina (through Paul Chichester) in 1984 and Jim campaigned the car in the Southeastern US until the car was returned to California by the current owner Stewart Smith.
The Lotus Eleven began production in 1956. The 'Eleven' was Colin Chapmans next evolution of phenomenally successful sports cars. The vehicle was dubbed 'Eleven' because it was the Mark XI and due to its 1100 cc engine capacity. The Eleven was built in three variations. The 'Le Mans' version featured a deDion rear axle and Girling disc brakes. The 'Club' version had a normal rear axle and drum brakes. The 'Sports' version was basically a 'Club' variant with a Ford 10 engine. The rest of vehicles were identical.
The Louts Eleven has been credited with securing Colin Chapman and Lotus in the history books as one of the greatest sports car manufacturers of all times.
The Eleven was a new vehicle, meaning its design and chassis did not borrow from previous models. A steel-tubular space-frame and stressed aluminum panels were used. The chassis alone weighed less than seventy pounds. The aerodynamic body was designed by Frank Costin and was hand made from aluminum.
This followed Collin Chapmans weight saving, effect, and scientific design principles.
The Climax engine was planted in the front of the vehicle. The 1100cc was capable of speeds in excess of 140mph. The famous race car driver Stirling Moss and 'Max' Fraser set closed-track world speed records at Monza running 143 mph.
In 1956, three Eleven models were entered in the grueling 24 hours of LeMans race. The results were astonishing, finishing seventh overall and first in their class. The streak continued the following year where it again finished first, second, and fourth in the 1100cc class. A 750cc lightweight Eleven driven by Cliff Allison and Keith Hall won the 'Index of Performance'. The vehicle achieved similar success at Sebring and other races.
The vehicle had less under-steer than previous Lotus models due in part to the modified swing axle front suspension. A new rack-and-pinion steering unit help control the vehicle at speed.
In 1957, the Series-2 was introduced. The Series-2 had chassis and drivetrain improvements. The 'Le Mans' bodystyle received a new Lotus 12-type double A-arms front suspension.
When production ceased in 1958, nearly 270 examples had been produced.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2006
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