Chassis #: 275
Engine #: 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.