Motoring Trailblazers - Lotus Elite

Sun 14th Oct 2018

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Lotus Elite
Built from glass fibre and described at the time as one of the most beautiful and aerodynamic British-built road cars ever designed. Priced at £2,000, which was a fortune at the time, the Elite was breathtaking in every sense of the word.

The Type 14 Elite came with excellent breeding, Colin Chapman legend of the track had made his first foray into car design, a bold statement with the English Lotus company, a brand which had only been born five years previous. What Chapman built was an instant classic, the ‘fibreglass’ monocoque construction allowed for a light weight and low drag frame, with a CD figure of 0.29, which would be remarkable in modern car design, never mind that of the 1950s.

Chapman’s obsession with efficiency was driven from his history of trying to squeeze every last gallon of juice from his racing cars and with a fuel efficiency of 40mpg, the Elite was certainly capable or redefining what a production sports car was capable of.

Chapman understood that if Lotus got a serious production car to sell well, then the money could be ploughed into a serious racing car team. It was a model which had worked so well for the Ferrari team under the guidance of Enzo and Chapman was keen to repeat that success.

The Lotus Elite was debuted at the Earls Court Show in October 1957 and after wowwing the crowds it would be ready for production exactly one year later.

In its six year spell of production, the Elite had sold 1030 models, and it’s no surprise to learn that during that same period Lotus had grown from an unknown to become one of the most famous racing teams in the world on the precipice of winning the F1 World Championship under Jim Clark.

Lotus success on the track was reflected off it, with the Elite setting down a marker for the company as a credible and ‘grown-up’ road car company.