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  Lotus 11 S1 Le Mans Climax
 

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1956
Numbers built:150 (All S1 Elevens)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the start of the 1956 season, Colin Chapman simplified Lotus' sports car line-up by replacing all existing models with the new 'Eleven'. The name was spelled out to ensure it was not confused with the earlier Mk II. To accommodate a wide range of customers, Lotus offered the Eleven in three distinct specifications, ranging from the entry-level 'Sports' model through to the range-topping 'Le Mans'.

The spaceframe chassis was derived from the Lotus Mark 9 and featured tubular sections of various diameter and gauge. The aluminium transmission tunnel was a stressed member of the frame. Suspension was by swing axles and coil springs at the front, while a live rear axle was fitted on the standard Eleven. The Le Mans boasted a DeDion axle and Girling disc brakes, which were mounted in-board at the rear.

Clothed in a slippery aluminium body designed by renowned aerodynamicist Mike Costin, the Eleven was available with a choice of engines. These ranged from a production-based Ford 'four', good for a modest 45 bhp, in the Sports model, to the latest 1.5-litre Coventry Climax, which produced 100 bhp and could be ordered for the Le Mans model. Regardless of the engine chosen, an MG-sourced four-speed gearbox was fitted.

The Eleven debuted during the 1956 Easter weekend and proved almost immediately successful. It was campaigned extensively by customers and also the works team, which utilised the services of drivers like Mike Hawthorn and Graham Hill and Chapman himself. At Le Mans, an Eleven won the 1.1-litre class by placing 7th overall. The domination in the up to 1,100 cc and the up to 1,500 cc classes established Lotus as a serious manufacturer.

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  Article Image gallery (23) Specifications User Comments (1)