1956 Lotus Eleven

Vehicle Profiles

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: 0259

For the 1956 racing season, Colin Chapman and his team at Lotus created an all-new racing car, the Lotus Eleven. The state-of-art car featured a tubular steel space frame with some stressed aluminum panels, an aluminum body designed by Frank Costin a....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: 202

This Lotus 'Eleven' is chassis #202 and is one of about 250 cars of this type built by England's Lotus Ltd between 1956 and 1959. Lotus #202 was purchased 'at cost' by Peter Ross in 1956 from his friend Colin Chapman, as a favor for work Peter had d....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

This car is One of eight (wide body) Series One cars built at Lotus Hornsey factory for endurance racing. It was raced at numerous tracks in Europe.....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: 212

This is a special wide chassis and wide body car. It is one of the Lotus factory team cars and was driven in the 1956 LeMans race by the founder of Lotus, Colin Chapman, and Herbert Fraser. They retired the car in the 21st hour of the race with a t....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: 180

#180 was original delivered to Tony Ellis of Great Britain in early 1956 and raced by him as a member of the Club Lotus Team of Crystal Palace and Silverstone during 1956/1957. In December 1957, the car was exported to Denmark and raced extensively b....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: 220

Initially, all Colin Chapman's Lotus Elevens were built with a swing-axle front suspension modified from English Ford components. These cars are general referred to as the first series of Lotus Elevens. The top-of-the-line Eleven version was the Le....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: 235

Chassis number 235 is a Lotus Eleven Series 1 LeMans model. It has a distinctive single seat cockpit for ultimate aerodynamics. The car has a long list of Historic Racing in the 1980s when owned by Wally Thomason; in the 1990s by Eduardo Baptista; ....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: 184

After around 150 Eleven 'Series 1'cars had been produced, Colin Chapman and the Lotus Engineering Company Ltd introduced the 'Series 2' variant in the spring of 1957. By the end of production during 1958, some 270 Lotus Elevens had been completed. ....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: MK 11/190
Engine Num: FWA 400-7 6802

This original Lotus Eleven Series 1 LeMans model was shipped new to the United States for buyer Gary Laughlin, a 1950s-era driver from Texas. According to Laughlin, he never took delivery, but instead sold the car as it sat at port to Skitch Henderso....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Chassis Num: MK11210
Engine Num: FWA 400-9 6968

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 earl....[continue reading]

1956 Lotus Eleven vehicle information

Series 1
Designer: Frank Costin

Engine Num: 6863

Colin Chapman and aerodynamicist Frank Costin would pencil the proposal for the Lotus Eleven on clean sheets of paper. The result was a vehicle that would take the checkered flag almost 150 times in 1956 alone, its first year on campaign. This includ....[continue reading]

Series 1
Chassis #: 0259 
Series 1
Chassis #: 202 
Series 1
 
Series 1
Chassis #: 212 
Series 1
Chassis #: 180 
Series 1
Chassis #: 220 
Series 1
Chassis #: 235 
Series 1
Chassis #: 184 
Series 1
Chassis #: MK 11/190 
Series 1
Chassis #: MK11210 
Series 1
 

History

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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