The very first production Lotus Elite, bought new by jazz legend Chris Barber, and recently restored for Channel 4’s For the Love of Cars, will be auctioned by Silverstone Auctions at the Silverstone Classic Sale on 30th July.
The very first Elite produced as a proper production vehicle rather than a pre-production prototype, this 1958 Lotus Elite Series I, chassis 1009, was displayed at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show. It was then purchased by one of Colin Chapman’s most favoured customers and personal friend, Chris Barber, in December 1958.
The car, the very first racing Elite, has an incredible race history, with Barber racing it extensively for five seasons in top level international sports car racing in both the UK and Europe. As well as competing in three consecutive Tourist Trophy races at Goodwood in 1961, 1962 and 1963, the Elite raced at the Nurburgring and in the British Empire Trophy. During this period it was also driven regularly by Sir John Whitmore, the ‘Racing Baronet’, who famously broke the class lap record at Spa using ‘CB23’ while on his way to class victory in the Grand Prix GT Support Race of 1962. Other notable drivers who drove the car include Mike Beckworth and Bob Olthoff.
Speaking ahead of the sale of the car, Silverstone Auctions managing director, Nick Whale, said; “This car represents a unique proposition for buyers wanting to race in top level historic motor sport or add to a stable of historically interesting cars. Its history and provenance make this Elite one of the most famous in the world and mean it would be welcome at any prestigious historic race meeting or show worldwide.”
Hidden away in storage for many years, the car has just emerged from a top quality, very exacting restoration carried out by Ant Anstead’s team at Evanta Motors with assistance from Lotus marque experts, all filmed as part of the new series of For the Love of Cars. After competing at the Silverstone Classic on Saturday 30th July, the car will go under the hammer as the first lot of the day estimated at between £75,000 and £100,000. The auctioning of the car will also be filmed for the popular Channel 4 series.
Ant Anstead added: “Every detail has been restored to better than new standard using only top quality components. The result is car that is a joy to behold and a thrill to drive, in pristine condition and ready to race.”
The restoration process of the car involved stripping it back to a bare monocoque where it was examined by prominent Lotus Elite authority Malcolm Ricketts. The fibreglass monocoque was found to be very sound and original but was stripped back completely and then lovingly refinished in UDT Green. It was then fitted with a full FIA approved roll cage by Pete Folbigg from Fabricage. This was accompanied by an FIA homologated Tillett B6F Carbon-GRP racing seat, TRS belts and a Moto-Lita steering wheel.
The engine was rebuilt by Coventry Climax specialist, Glyn Peacock, to his full race ‘all steel’ specification which includes forged pistons and rods, a steel crank and big valves. The original MGA sourced gearbox was rebuilt by well-known specialist Mike Jennings who fitted a new layshaft, front and rear bearings, and strengthened the clutch slave cylinder mounting. New wheels, from specialist MWS, were fitted with the correct Dunlop racing tyres. Once the suspension had been rebuilt with all new parts from Mk14 Components it was set up by well-known Elite specialists Tolman Motorsport who ensured that this Elite flows down the road in the way Colin Chapman intended.