At £55k, a Lo­tus clas­sic – needs a lit­tle care

Daily Mail - - Life - Daily Mail Re­porter

IT’S 60 years old, in bits and in des­per­ate need of a paint job.

But this 1959 Lo­tus Elite has such a colour­ful his­tory that, even as a jum­ble of parts, it is ex­pected to fetch around £55,000 at auc­tion.

The car once be­longed to a swash­buck­ling Bat­tle of Bri­tain hero who en­tered it into the 1959 Le Mans 24-hour race.

Since then it has passed through the hands of a se­ries of own­ers, with the last one strip­ping it down ready for restora­tion. He, how­ever, died be­fore he could com­plete the project and now the car is up for sale at auc­tion­eers His­torics, of Iver, Buck­ing­hamshire. Though the parts could take months to re­assem­ble, most are ac­counted for.

John Wil­liams, of His­torics, said: ‘This is a very spe­cial restora­tion op­por­tu­nity.’ He said the car had ‘a fas­ci­nat­ing Le Mans his­tory, and char­ac­ter­ful own­er­ship’.

The Lo­tus was bought from new by Flight Lieu­tenant James Richard Stoop. He flew Hur­ri­canes and Spit­fires dur­ing the war and in be­tween mis­sions de­vel­oped his rac­ing skills by tear­ing round the tar­mac at RAF Westhamp­nett in West Sus­sex.

Af­ter the war the fighter pi­lot be­came an es­tab­lished rac­ing driver, and com­peted at Le Mans a re­mark­able ten times. He en­tered his Lo­tus into the 1959 race just 11 days af­ter buy­ing it. How­ever, it never made it to race be­cause of a se­ri­ous col­li­sion af­ter a prac­tice ses­sion.

Flight Lieu­tenant Stoop, known as Dickie, died of a heart at­tack at the wheel of an­other car in 1968. He had sold the car to Porsche rac­ing driver Pa­trick Guy God­frey in 1966.

The sale takes place on May 18.

Stripped down: The 1959 Elite is a ma­jor restora­tion project Dash­ing: The lean lines of the 1959 Lo­tus in its rac­ing days

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