Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Purdy Car, Purdy Picture
The original Lotus Elite had some technical problems, not the least of which was suspension loads fed directly into an inadequately reinforced fiberglass unit body. Not a recipe for structural durability. But the car, with its 1.1 liter all-aluminum Coventry-Climax s.o.h.c. engine, achieved Colin Chapman's first, last, and always engineering goal: lightness. The very sophisticated specification, including state-of-the-art suspension, came at a price to match. But the firm couldn't make a profit on the Elite. It probably would have bankrupted Lotus but for robust sales of the Lotus 7.
I remember a couple who drove from Cincinnati to Cleveland, and stayed for two nights, to get their Elite fixed and tuned, because nobody in Cincinnati could get it right. On the other hand, David Hobbs and Frank Gardner won the 1.3 liter GT class at LeMans, and finished 8th overall (!), in a Team Lotus Elite, in 1962. It was Hobbo's first international win.