1959 Lotus Elite

S1 Competition Coupe

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1959
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Lot number 
    144
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

  • Powered by a 1,216-cc Coventry Climax race-spec engine
  • Backed by a ZF four-speed manual gearbox
  • Features a lightweight S1 Miximar-built body
  • Raced in Europe throughout the 1960s
  • Purchased by Winfried "Winni" Reithmeier in 1964, who later had the car restored in the 1990’s

Launched at the 1957 Earls Court Motor Show, the Type 14 “Elite” built upon Lotus’ previous race experience and marked their first serious foray into volume car production. A revolutionary fiberglass monocoque chassis was utilized, powered by the potent—and, importantly, lightweight—Coventry Climax engine. The light curb weight afforded spirited performance, excellent road holding, and unparalleled driver enjoyment.

Produced between 1958 and 1963, the car proved an immediate hit on the racetrack with the likes of Jim Clark, Trevor Taylor, and Les Leston proving practically unbeatable in the sub-1500 GT class in British Club racing. The Elite was, however, far more than merely a sprint machine, as demonstrated by the remarkable 8th overall (and 1st in class) achieved in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours by Peters Riley and Lumsden.

Chassis 1159 was delivered new on 12 February 1960 to a Mr. F. Springer, and given the UK registration plate “6577 AR”. Under Mr. Springer’s ownership the car was raced throughout the UK until he sold the car in 1962 to Dieter Schmid of Munich, Germany. Mr. Schmid would go on to utilize the Lotus in a similar fashion, campaigning it at various racetracks from 1962 to 1964. In 1964, the Lotus was purchased by Winfried “Winni” Reithmeier of Starnberg Bayern. He would put the car in storage where it would remain for many years. In the mid-1990s the Lotus was restored, which included a rebuild of the race-spec Coventry Climax engine.

Current ownership purchased the car in the fall of 2017. Today, its 1990s restoration is holding up nicely. The lightweight S1 Miximar-built body is finished in silver, with the car’s original UK registration numbers rendered as vinyl decals on the front and rear. It rides on painted knock-off wire wheels shod in Michelin tires. The 1,216-cc Coventry Climax race-spec engine is fueled by two Weber carburetors with the glorious sounds of the inline-four emitted through a dual exhaust. The interior features bucket seats trimmed in black leather, a wood-rimmed steering wheel with Lotus center cap, and a silver dash housing Smiths instrumentation. The ZF four-speed manual gearbox is capped off by a Lotus wooden shift knob and a burgundy shift boot.

Raced throughout Europe in the 1960s and later restored in the 1990s, this Lotus Elite S1 Competition Coupe would be a wonderful car to enjoy on the open road, or like prior owners, once again at the racetrack.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/az21.