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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Condition definitions
Condition #1: Concours
Condition #1 vehicles are the best in the world. The visual image is of the best vehicle, in the right colors, driving onto the lawn at the finest concours. Perfectly clean, the vehicle has been groomed down to the tire treads. Painted and chromed surfaces are mirror-like. Dust and dirt are banned, and materials used are correct and superbly fitted. The one word description for #1 vehicles is “concours.“
Condition #2: Excellent
#2 vehicles could win a local or regional show. They can be former #1 vehicles that have been driven or have aged. Seasoned observers will have to look closely for flaws, but will be able to find some not seen by the general public. The paint, chrome, glass and finishes will all appear as excellent. No excessive smoke will be seen on startup, no unusual noises will emanate from the engine. The vehicle will drive as a new vehicle of its era would. The one word description for #2 vehicles is “excellent.“
Condition #3: Good
#3 vehicles could possess some, but not all of the issues of a #4 vehicle, but they will be balanced by other factors such as a fresh paint job or a new, correct interior where applicable. #3 vehicles drive and run well, but might have some incorrect parts. These vehicles are not used for daily transportation but are ready for a long tour without excuses, and the casual passerby will not find any visual flaws. “Good” is the one word description of a #3 vehicle.
Condition #4: Fair
#4 vehicles are daily drivers, with flaws visible to the naked eye. The chrome might have pitting or scratches, the windshield might be chipped. Paintwork is imperfect, and perhaps the body has a minor dent. Split seams or a cracked dash, where applicable, might be present. No major parts are missing, but the wheels could differ from the originals, or other non- stock additions might be present. A #4 vehicle can also be a deteriorated restoration. “Fair” is the one word that describes a #4 vehicle.
Condition #5: Poor
Running, but battered, incomplete, and perhaps rusty.
Condition #6: Parts car
Parts car.
Hagerty only assigns condition ratings to vehicles we can inspect in person or, for online listings, via high-quality photography.