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14 Elite
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  Lotus 14 Elite

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1957 - 1963
Numbers built:1050
Introduced at:1958 Geneva Motor Show
Designed by:Colin Chapman, Peter Kirwan-Taylor, Frank Costin
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
Download: All images
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Click here to download printer friendly versionRoad cars were not a priority for Colin Chapman until more funds were needed to finance a more diverse racing program, when Lotus branched out into single seater racing. Simply converting the available sports cars for road use was not an option because of their time-consuming, complex construction process, so Chapman set out to find better alternatives. He stumbled on a new material, fiberglass, which seemed like the ideal material for Lotus as it offered rigidity at a relatively light weight.

After some classes for learning how to handle glassfibre, the design for Lotus' first pure roadcar was penned. It featured a glassfibre monocoque, made up of five sections. This featherlight construction featured four wheel independent suspension and disc brakes all around. A Conventry Climax engine was chosen to power the Elite. Output ranged from 75 - 105 bhp. More than sufficient to propel a car with a weight as low as the Elite's.

Although originally conceived as a road cars, the Elite was a very good performer on the track as well. Like the Lotus sports cars it was able to keep up with more powerful adverseries due to its fine handling characteristics. At Le Mans the Elite scored multiple class victories.

Cutting edge is a good discreption for what the Elite was. However the advanced construction used came at a cost and Lotus never made the money from the Elite they expected. In fact they lost money on each car built. Rust can not attack the Elite's monocoque, but it does suffer from cracks caused by the glassfibre's nature to flex. That is why its 1963 replacement, the Elan, featured a more conventional, seperate steel-chassis again.

The two Elites featured are seen driving on the Dutch Zandvoort track and parked on the Le Mans infield at the 2002 Le Mans Classic.

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  Article Image gallery (30) Specifications User Comments (3)