1961 Lotus Elite

Bonhams Les Grandes Marques du Monde 2021
Wednesday, 3 March - Wednesday, 10 March 2021
€80,000 ($95,200)
Not sold at a high bid of
€85,000 - €125,000
Est. Range
Lot Number
Older restoration
Auction House
Chassis no. 1336; Engine no. 9631. Old English White over black leather. LHD, 1400-cc Coventry Climax four, dual Webers, ZF close-ratio gearbox, painted wire wheels, woodrim steering wheel, wood shift knob.

Evaluation: Sold new in California. Later body-off restored in Europe with Climax FWB crankshaft and connecting rods as well as forged pistons for an estimated 100 horsepower, about 25 more than stock. Clean paint, body, and wheels. Factory gaps (aka uneven). The metal dash is tarnished and gauges look older. Light age on the steering wheel, but clean upholstery and carpets. Clean, sorted engine bay. A lovely, fully restored Elite that was a quick car in 1960 and even quicker today with that hot engine.

Bottom Line: With not only a fiberglass body but also an entirely fiberglass monocoque structure underneath, the Elite was a fragile car even by Lotus standards. But the Elite’s racing pedigree and significance to the marque, they’ve been collectible enough for long enough that most examples like this one have had a thorough restoration. Chassis 1336 sold for €89,600 ($102,300 at the time) at RM Paris in 2015, and Elites are more valuable today than they were six years ago. Even if the car has aged a bit since then, it deserved more than this reported high bid.

by Andrew Newton
17 March 2021
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