Classic Sports Car
Year of manufacture 1962 Recorded mileage 90,989
Asking price £79,950 Vendor Paul Matty Sports Cars, Lickey End, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire; 01527 835656; paulmattysportscars.co.uk
WHEN IT WAS NEW Price £1949 (1960) Max power 83bhp Max torque 75lb ft 0-60mph 11 secs Top speed 118mph Mpg 35
Here’s a confession (but likely not a surprise): for a wee while now, I’ve been trying to shed a few pounds. There’s been some progress, but it’s slow going; what I need is some serious motivation, and this fabulous Elite could be just the thing. When you’re driving a car that weighs around 1450lb (656kg) and has only 83bhp to push it along – and, perhaps more pertinently, just 75lb ft of torque – then a couple of extra Cornish pasties makes all the difference. So simply skipping lunch will take a few tenths off the 0-60mph time.
Not that you really need any excuse to want an Elite. As brilliant to drive as it is gorgeous to look at, the Type 14 was also a technological pioneer with its groundbreaking glassfibre monocoque, all-independent suspension and fourwheel disc brakes. Some prefer the cheeky charm of the Elan, but to me the Elite was truly Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s masterpiece, and it’s only those apparently unshakeable – and unfair – kit-car associations that prevent it from reaching blue-chip territory in the marketplace. Which is great news for buyers: a superb example such as this, representing one of the great benchmark sports cars of which fewer than 1000 were made, looks like fine value beside more mainstream dream cars such as the Jaguar E-type.
My father had an Elite in his 20s, having blown an inheritance on the tiny coupé. He still dreams of owning another example of what he calls: “The best car I ever had, and also the worst.” That’s a nod the model’s famed unreliability, but I know the current owner of this car and he is robust in both stature and in his style behind the wheel, not to mention pretty handy with a spanner, so hopefully he has ironed out most of those creases.
Chassis 1707 is the perfect spec, with the crucial Coventry Climax FWE overhead-cam ‘four,’ a sweet-revving 1216cc jewel, and the sensationally light and precise ZF all-synchromesh ’box. Exported new to Singapore, the Lotus was first owned by the Crown Prince of the State of Johore. It returned to the UK 22 years later, and in ’08 was treated to a rebuild by Tony Thompson Racing. The yellow finish is a bit sudden – more Norfolk Custard than Norfolk Mustard – but aside from that, and the small matter of persuading Dad to loan me just shy of £80k, I’m struggling to find a reason not to head straight to Bromsgrove.