1956 Lotus XI Le MansSOLD
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Estimate: €120,000-150,000

Sold: €110,000

Lotus, which boasts a racing record of the highest rank, has produced over the years some of the finest competition cars ever seen. The Eleven, created in 1956, was one of the most successful of these. Its principal assets included a highly streamlined body designed by the famed Mike Costin with the configuration of its mechanical components masterminded by engineering genius Colin Chapman.

The 1956 Le Mans 24 Hour Race saw an Eleven winning its class and finishing 7th overall; in 1957 another Eleven again won the class and finished 9th overall, whilst all four Elevens which had started had also finished. In the same race ten Ferraris started but only two finished, Maserati had only one finisher out of five, Porsche one out of six and Aston Martin one out of four. Not only was the Lotus quick and agile, it also lasted. The Eleven, too, was the car which established Lotus as the world's premier manufacturer of small capacity sports-racing cars. Although Lotus was a young company, the pedigree of the Eleven was immaculate. The spaceframe chassis was designed by Colin Chapman and the body was by Frank Costin - the team which gave Vanwall the first Formula One Constructors' Cup. It was not so much a car as a menu; one could buy an Eleven as an out-and-out racer, or as a dual-purpose car, and one could also buy the components to change or up-rate ones car.

Chassis 248 is one of the rare and desirable examples built to Le Mans specification. It boasts the 1,280cc Climax engine and, as on the Lotus Nine, it had a de Dion rear axle and front swing axle, and disc brakes were standard all round on the ultimate "Le Mans" model. According to Graham Capel's authoritative book The History of the Lotus Eleven, Chassis 248 was one of the 57 cars of the first series to be destined for the American market. One of its previous owners was a Mr McFadden Parker of Columbia/South Carolina who even used the car on the road, as a road tax sticker from 1982, which was found on the windscreen, proves. It found its way back to Europe through a London dealer in 1985, who sold it on to a Mr Enrico Corpaci of Rome, who campaigned the car extensively over the next 15 years in races such as the Targa Florio and at Monza. Upon its arrival in Italy the car was still equipped with a very special hardtop with gullwing-like doors. This hardtop is believed to have been fitted so that the car could be used in the GTS racing series in the early 1960s; it is un-restored but complete with the larger windscreen and accompanies the car. The current owners have done some thorough research before acquiring this Lotus and have been in close contact with the Historic Lotus Register in England and its equivalent in America, before and since.

Carefully restored, only replacing the original aluminium where necessary, this Eleven Le Mans is delightfully and appropriately finished in British Racing Green with a red interior piped white. The original colour is not known, but the car was red when it arrived in Italy, so the red hardtop is still un-restored. In order not to detract from the car's history, the inside colour of the aluminium doors has not been changed either. The FWE Coventry Climax engine has just been overhauled by racing specialist Burato Racing of Padova and the car has covered minimal mileage since. Here is one of the most immaculate and potentially competitive Elevens currently available, offered with FIA papers, CSAI papers, FIVA identity card and ASI Certificato d'Identita. An ideal entrant into any of the forthcoming 1950s sportscar events which have become so popular and for which this attractive car is so eligible.

Reference Number 14181

as of 10/13/2007

Car 1956 Lotus XI Le Mans
VIN Mk II 248