17-18 August 2012

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Lot 124

1956 Lotus Eleven Series 1 Sports Racing Car

  • Chassis no. 189

Sold for $126,500

100 bhp, 1,462 cc DOHC four-cylinder engine, two 2-inch SU carburetors, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with swing axles and coil-spring dampers, De Dion rear axle with wheels located by parallel trailing arms, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 85"

Please note that this vehicle will be sold on a Bill of Sale only.

• Well-known, polished-aluminum Lotus Eleven Series 1

• Spectacular 56-year competition record in Europe and the U.S.

• Most desirable, finned, single-seater Le Mans model

• Top speed of 165 mph from aluminum Coventry-Climax engine

Colin Chapman was an engineer for the British Aluminum Company, who built competition cars in his spare time, starting with the bare-bones Lotus VI in 1952. Initially with Ford side-valve engines, the aluminum Coventry-Climax SOHC, four-cylinder proved to be the magic ingredient, and 100 Mark VIs were sold in three years.

Chapman wanted to enter the 1500 cc class and hired De Havilland Aircraft engineer Frank Costin to produce an aerodynamic full-width racer. The Lotus VIII and IX were followed quickly by the XI (Eleven), which had a stunning low-drag body. It was sold as the Sports, a street car with a 36-horsepower Ford engine and drum brakes; the Club, the same car but with a 75 horsepower Coventry-Climax engine; and the Le Mans, a single-seater with 1,462 cc Coventry Climax engine, disc brakes, and De Dion rear axle. The Le Mans was capable of 165 mph in 1955.

The car on offer is a Lotus Eleven Series 1, chassis number 189, which has had an illustrious career. From 1956–1958, it was raced 40 times around Europe by the Hon. Edward Greenall, of Ecurie Arklow. He won eleven Firsts, five Seconds, and five Third Places. In 1958, the car passed to Bill Allan, of the Curtis Smith Racing Team, who campaigned it extensively in the UK, until it was retired at the end of the season.

American racer David Springett was transferred to England for Xerox in 1978. Looking for a competitive car, he found 189 and was immediately successful, running 52 races from 1980–1983, including 28 in one year. Springett won the under two-liter class at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix in 1983 and was Second at the Nürburgring Historic Grand Prix in 1981.

Racing in the FIA International Series, against the likes of Sir Stirling Moss, Springett scored numerous First, Second and Third Places, including setting a lap record at Donington in August 1981. Springett also competed in the Lloyd’s and Scottish UK Historic Championship Series, finishing Third in Class in 1981 and 1982 and Second in 1983. Since returning to the U.S. in 1983, the Springett’s highly polished Lotus has been a familiar sight at racetracks all over the West Coast, and he’s been a front-runner in more than 250 races.

However “the best day, bar none” as he puts it, was winning the Monaco Historic GP in 1983. “I was chasing a two-liter Porsche RSK, who was giving me no room to pass. I realized I’d have to go round on the outside of the turn by the swimming pool. It scared us both, but we were neck-and-neck down the straightaway…then we both spun out at the next corner by the church. I got out first and took off up the hill.”


As with many Lotus 11's another similar car claims this cars chassis number. UK Lotus 11 registrar Victor Thomas confirms however that this car was a LeMans model from new and is accepted as an original Lotus 11 by the Register.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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