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1956 Lotus Eleven Roadster / MK11210 Vehicle Information

1956 Lotus Eleven photograph

1956 Lotus Eleven photograph

1956 Lotus Eleven photograph

1956 Lotus Eleven1956 Lotus Eleven1956 Lotus Eleven
Sold for $209,000 at 2015 Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction.
Even by the mid-1950s Colin Chapman's genius as a car designer was beginning to come to the fore. He was known for making lightweight automobiles that were advanced in aerodynamics and construction techniques. One of his best examples from those early years would be his Lotus Eleven.

Throughout the 1956 and 1957 seasons the Lotus Eleven would be practically unbeatable within its class. A class victory and 7th place overall finish in the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans would be proof of this fact.

Unfortunately, being so strong means a big target is painted on the back, especially when it comes to an event like Le Mans where French patriotism certainly isn't so easily hidden. This ever-present reality would force Chapman and his team to take a look at their Eleven design. To say the car was a two-seater was a bit of a stretch and measuring with the right, or in the case of Lotus, the 'wrong' apparatus could mean the difference between being legal to compete or being disqualified. This danger needed to be addressed. The obvious answer was to build an Eleven that was wider than its predecessors.

Making use of cross-bracing via additional floor tubes, the new Lotus Eleven would be increased in width by no less than four inches on either side providing the necessary room in the cockpit to enable Lotus to breathe a little easier.

Initially, just three examples of the wider Elevens would be built. Those first three would actually be produced in time for Le Mans in 1956. Three examples would be built in time for Le Mans and then would be put on display at the London Motor Show later that year. Those three, and two more that would come later in the year, would be prepared for Sebring in 1957.

In total, there would be five Lotus Elevens prepared in time for Sebring with the wider body. Those five would be extensively photographed heading into the event. Yet, what would be realized by Le Mans the year before is that they weren't really necessary. Given the way the cockpit area was measured it was found the original Lotus Eleven had the ability to pass scrutinizing.

When it was all said and done, seven of the wide-chassis Elevens would be known to be produced by the Lotus factory. Those final two would be built sometime following Sebring and would be little know to exist. Chassis MK11210 would be one of those two wide-bodied Lotus Eleven that would be built in relative obscurity.

Most of this Eleven's known history comes about in the late 1950s and early 1960s when, with a great deal of excitement, 210 would become the property of Athens, Tennessee resident William Mitchell. Mitchell would use the Lotus widely at vintage events until Michael Lavers purchased the car in 1962.

Lavers' purchase of the Lotus would come with a great deal of excitement as one of the Lotus works cars would be lost, a mystery that would extend for decades to come. Following Lavers time with the Lotus, Peter Hannan would become the new owner. Steve Hart would then become the owner and would immediately commission a restoration.

Nearly every detail of the car would be looked into over the course of the restoration efforts. Victor Thomas of the Historic Lotus Register and Alan Putt would be two of those that would take great interest in the chassis. It was believed the car may have been the missing Le Mans works car. Unfortunately, it was found not to be the case. Still, the confirmation of the chassis' identity would offer some form of excitement.

There is still no denying the history of MK11210 even though it isn't the Le Mans class winner. Still, just one of seven known wide-bodied Lotus Elevens ever to be produced and well documented, including FIA papers, there is absolutely no doubting the importance of this Lotus.
Part of Tony Hart's impressive collection, the Lotus Eleven would garner a sale price of $209,000 at the 2015 Bonhams Quail Lodge auction.

By Jeremy McMullen
Sold for $209,000 at 2015 Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction.
The Lotus Elevens dominated the 1100 and 1500cc classes in 1956 and 1957. At the 1956 Le Mans 24 Hours the 1100cc class was won by the works car co-driven by Reg Bicknell/Peter Jopp which finished seventh overall. During the first full season, almost 148 significant race wins were recorded by the Lotus Elven.

At Sebring 12 Hours in 1957, Colin Chapman and Joe Sheppard won their class. At the Le Mans 24-Hours, Jay Chamberlain and 'Mac' Fraser drove an Eleven to another class win in 1100cc class. A super-lightweight 750cc Eleven won the Index of Performance for Cliff Allison/Keith Hall.

This particular example is a 'wide-chassis' model. These wide-chassis versions were tailor-made to comply with International cockpit-width regulations and initially developed specifically for Sebring and Le Mans. The centre frame width was increased by around 4 inches on each side. They were cross-braced by an additional floor tube and the rear suspension radius rods were cranked to accommodate the width increase.

For many years, it was believed that as many as seven of these wide-chassis Elevens were built - three works cars to compete at LeMans in 1956, and two for the 1957 Sebring race. After long-term obscurity, two more period-built wide-chassis cars emerged. This car is one of those two. There is some debate if this is chassis '210' - the ex-Bicknell/Jopp car that won its class at the LeMans 24-Hour race.

Along with its wide-chassis, it was also fitted with Series 2 rear end.

This car was owned during the late 1950s or early 1960s by William Mitchell in Athens, Tennessee. In 1972, it was discovered by Jeff Cobb (a relative of Mr. Mitchell) who retrieved the long neglected and then-derelict car from a barn and trailered it back to Baton Rouge.

New owner Peter Hannan then entrusted it to Steve Hart for a restoration.

The current caretaker has owned the car for the past nine years and has raced it in vintage competition.


By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2015



2015 Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $325,000-USD $425,000 
Sale Price :
USD $209,000

1956 Lotus Eleven Auction Sales

Recent Sales

(Data based on Model Year 1956 sales)
1956 Lotus Eleven Le Mans, Series 1
Sold for USD$92,960
  2018 Bonhams : Amelia Island Auction
1956 Lotus Eleven image  
1956 LOTUS ELEVEN LE MANS SPORTS RACER
Sold for USD$209,000
  2015 Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction
1956 Lotus Eleven image  
1956 Lotus Eleven Series 1 - Le Mans Spec
Sold for USD$65,664
  2015 Coys at Ascot
 
1956 Lotus Eleven Series 1 Sports Racing Car
Chassis#: 189
Sold for USD$126,500
  2012 RM Auctions - Monterey
 
1956 Lotus Eleven Series I Le Mans 85
Chassis#: MK 11/190
Sold for USD$100,000
  2012 Gooding and Company - Pebble Beach Auction
1956 Lotus Eleven image  
1956 Lotus Eleven Le Mans Sports-Racing Roadster
Chassis#: 211
Sold for USD$239,484
  2012 Bonhams - Collectors' Motor cars and Automobilia at Goodwood
 
1956 Lotus Eleven Le Mans
Chassis#: 220
Sold for USD$126,500
  2008 Sports & Classics of Monterey by RM Auctions
1956 Lotus Eleven image  1956 Lotus Eleven image  
1956 Lotus XI Le Mans
Chassis#: Mk II 248
Sold for USD$157,905
  2007 Coys Auction - Automoto D‘Epoca
 

Vehicles That Failed To Sell

1956 Lotus Eleven's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1956 Lotus Eleven 1.5-Litre Sports-racer2312013 Bonhams The Spa Classic Sale $130,000$170,000
1956 Lotus Eleven Series 1 Sports-Racing Two-Seater 2011 Bonhams Quail Lodge Sale $125,000$150,000
1956 Lotus Eleven Series 1 Sports-Racing Two-Seater 2009 Bonhams Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club $130,000$150,000

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Lotus Eleven Vehicle Profiles
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Model Year: 1956
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Model Year: 1956
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Model Year: 1956

Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Model Year: 1956
Profile
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Model Year: 1956
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Engine Num: 6863
Model Year: 1956
Profile and Auction History

Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 0259
Model Year: 1956
Profile
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 15/610/2
Model Year: 1956
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 164
Model Year: 1956
Profile

Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 180
Model Year: 1956
Profile
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 180
Model Year: 1956
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 184
Model Year: 1956
Profile and Auction History

Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 202
Model Year: 1956
Profile
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 212
Model Year: 1956
Profile
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 220
Model Year: 1956
Profile and Auction History

Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 224
Model Year: 1956
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 235
Model Year: 1956
Profile
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 283
Model Year: 1956

Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 286
Model Year: 1956
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: 506
Model Year: 1956
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: MK 11 258
Model Year: 1956

Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: MK 11/190
Engine Num: FWA 400-7 6802
Model Year: 1956
Profile and Auction History
Roadster
Lotus Eleven Roadster

Chassis Num: MK11210
Engine Num: FWA 400-9 6968
Model Year: 1956
Profile and Auction History
Sports Racer
Lotus Eleven Sports Racer

Model Year: 1957

Sports Racer
Lotus Eleven Sports Racer

Model Year: 1957
Sports Racer
Lotus Eleven Sports Racer

Chassis Num: 256
Model Year: 1957
Profile
Sports Racer
Lotus Eleven Sports Racer

Chassis Num: 275
Engine Num: 400-56112-3
Model Year: 1957
Profile

Sports Racer
Lotus Eleven Sports Racer

Chassis Num: 334
Model Year: 1957
Sports Racer
Lotus Eleven Sports Racer

Chassis Num: 377
Model Year: 1957
Profile


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