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Lot 145: Lotus Elite Competition Coup�

Goodwood Revival Sale, Bonhams (15 September 2012)

With the Lotus 14 of 1959 -� better known as the Elite -� Colin Chapman demonstrated that his skills as a racing car designer and constructor could just as easily be applied to production road cars. The Elite was, nevertheless, conceived with competition in mind, as Chapman had his sights set on class wins at Le Mans and the Monte Carlo Rally. Just as innovative as Lotus's outright competition cars, the Elite featured a fibreglass monocoque body tub, independent suspension all round (based on that of Lotus' racing monopostos) and four-wheel disc bakes, the rears mounted inboard. Its engine was the four-cylinder Coventry-Climax FWE, a single-overhead-cam unit of 1,216cc producing 75bhp while the gearbox, an MGA unit fitted with an alloy casing and modified bell-housing, was sourced from BMC. The classically-styled body -� the work of stylists Peter Kirwan-Taylor and John Frayling, and aerodynamicist Frank Costin -� although possessing an admirably low coefficient of drag, made few concessions to comfort or noise suppression, not that that is likely to have bothered the Elite's customers, for whom its 112mph top speed and superlative handling were of far greater importance. Indeed, so successful was the Elite on the racetrack that the car dominated its class well into the 1960s. Noteworthy achievements include five class victories at Le Mans and two wins in the prestigious 'Index of Thermal Performance'. The example offered here was raced with great success by Roger Nathan, who is best known for his work as a tuner and racer of Hillman Imps as well as co-creator with Frank Costin of the Costin-Nathan sports-racer. It was at the wheel of '8 MPG' that a young Roger Nathan first came to prominence on the British club-racing scene in the early 1960s. Nathan first raced the Elite in 1961, claiming his first race win in the car - in the Silverstone 100 miles - that same year. He built on this solid start in 1962 and the following year took '8 MPG' to overall victory in the Autosport Championship aged only 20. Fitted with engine number '8849', chassis number '1106' had begun life in 1959 as a road car owned by Count Charles de Sallis. '8 MPG' was fitted with the 75bhp, single SU, Coventry-Climax engine when Roger Nathan bought the car from Alan Day in mid-1961 but was soon converted to S2 specification with twin SU carburettors and a four-branch manifold to give 85bhp. Driving the car in this form, Nathan qualified for his international licence. In 1962, '8 MPG' was further improved with a five-bearing camshaft and twin Weber carburettors to give 100bhp. During that season Nathan had a bad accident at Brands Hatch where the Elite somersaulted, destroying the body tub. Les Leston had to cut the unconscious Nathan out of the car. The remains were taken back to Nathan's premises and a replacement assembled using a Phase 2 bodyshell complete with a Costin 'Le Mans' nose as used by the Team Elite cars. At the end of the 1963 season, '8 MPG' was sold and used as a road car until 1972 when Anthony Hutton acquired it for racing, treating it to a suspension overhaul as well as a new cylinder block. Driving '8 MPG', Hutton took four wins on his way to winning the up-to-2,000cc class of the Cussons Trophy series in 1972. In 1973 Hutton entered the Elite at Le Mans where the car was clocked at 130mph on the Mulsanne Straight on its way to a class victory. '8 MPG' was later campaigned by Ralph Canby, Rupert Glydon and Tony Bianchi before it was acquired by Bill Friend, who raced it together with his son Roger in many events in the UK and Europe. The car ran in 1,216cc Coventry-Climax FWE-engined form (tuned to Stage 5) and with a ZF gearbox. In its current specification the car has the 1,216cc engine, breathing via twin Weber 40DCOE carburettors, and the ZF four-speed gearbox. Fully restored in 2006 by its new owner, '8 MPG' resumed its competition career in 2008 at Spa Francorchamps where it competed twice, the second occasion being the Six Hours race, which resulted in a B1 class win. In 2009 the same event netted a 2nd place in class while 2010 saw the Elite bag GTS2 class wins at Brands Hatch and Zandvoort. Regarded as having continuous history, '8 MPG' comes with its original buff logbook, old-style Swansea V5 registration document and FIA Historic Technical Passport.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Revival Sale
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood
Lot Number145
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£63000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£72060
Condition rating0
Registration number8 MPG
Chassis number1106
Engine numberFWE8076
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors