The Lotus Eleven (1956–’58)
For the car developed as a replacement for the Lotus MKIX, Lotus dropped its previously used ‘Mark’ model designation, simply calling the new car the Lotus Eleven. Following on from the MKIX, the Eleven featured a Frank Costindesigned body atop a space-frame chassis. Designed to be fitted with either the 1100cc Coventry Climax or the then new 1460cc version of the same engine, the Eleven came in three flavours — Le Mans, Club and Sports. As you would guess from the name, the Le Mans versions were intended for serious competition use, and were fitted with a de Dion rear axle, and disc brakes up front. In 1956, the cost of an 1100cc Le Mans 75 was £1337, while the Le Mans 85, with its Stage 2 tuned engine, would set you back £1387. Optioning in the larger engine added another £250. The Club model, intended for occasional competition use, made do with parallel trailing arms rather than the de Dion, while brakes were drums all around. The Club model’s basic price on introduction was £1083. Finally, the Sports model was intended for road use plus the odd foray onto the track, being essentially a Club car fitted with the cheaper Ford 100E 1172cc side-valve engine — basic cost; £872. Elevens scored class wins at Le Mans in 1956 and 1957, and also recorded a clean sweep in their class at Sebring in 1958. Away from the works team, privateers recorded hundreds of race and class wins all over the world, and the Eleven also proved its mettle on hill climbs and street circuits. In 1956 a specially built, streamlined 1110cc Eleven complete with an enclosed ‘bubble top’ was driven by Stirling Moss and ‘Mac’ Fraser at Monza in Italy, the car recording a fastest lap at 143mph (230kph) and setting a series of world speed records.