1957 Lotus Eleven
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 t....[continue reading]
HistoryThe 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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