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Classic Cars Wiki

The Lotus Eleven was a racing car built in various versions by Lotus from 1956 until 1958. The later versions built


1950s Lotus Eleven

in 1958 are sometimes referred to as Lotus 13, although this was not an official designation. In total, about 270 Elevens of all versions were built.

The Lotus Eleven[]

The Eleven was designed by Colin Chapman and fitted with a sleek body designed by aerodynamicist Frank Costin. Its top version, dubbed Le Mans, was generally fitted with a 1100 cc (67ci) Coventry Climax FWA engine and occasionally with a 1500 cc (92ci) Coventry Climax FWB engine mounted in the front of a tubular space frame and featured a De Dion rear axle andGirling disc brakes. Fully loaded, the car weighed only about 1,000 lb (450 kg). Versions for a 1100 cc (67ci) Climax engine (Club) and a 1172 cc (72ci) Ford engine (Sport) were also produced; both featured a live rear axle and drum brakes. Several cars were fitted with alternative engines by their owners, these included Coventry Climax 1500cc (92ci) FWB and FPF and 1200 cc (73ci) FWE, Maserati 150S 1500cc (92ci), DKW 1000cc (61ci) SAAB 850cc (52ci) and 750cc (46ci) engines. There were two main body styles: one with a headrest and the other with no headrest, just two small fins. Some cars were later fitted with a closed body with gullwing doors to meet GT specifications.

There have been several replicas and re-creations of the Lotus Eleven, including the Kokopelli 11, the Challenger GTS, the Spartak and the best known, the Westfield Eleven. In 1957, the Eleven underwent a major design change, including a new front suspension and improvements to the drivetrain. Although officially called Eleven Series 2, these late models are sometimes informally referred to as Lotus 13s, since they were produced between the 12 and 14 models and the 13 designation was not used by Lotus.

The Westfield Sports[]

The Eleven was such a successful and beautiful design that beginning in 1982, Westfield Sportscars started production of a replica with a fiberglass body, available as either a finished car or a kit car. Called the Westfield Sports, the factory-finished cars were usually fitted with an uprated 1275 cc BMC "A" engine (the same engine that was used by such classics as the MG Midget and the Austin-Healey Sprite), although some factory cars were fitted with Ford Kent engines. Kit cars were sold without engines, and owners have fitted anything from the Coventry Climax to Lotus twincams and Alfa Romeo engines to the chassis. In any event these replicas should never be confused with cars built by Lotus, which was never connected with the Westfield or other imitators.

In 1983, the magazine Road & Track featured an article about the Westfield XI replica, telling the story of how the magazine's team built a kit car and subsequently took it for a 5,000-mile (8,000 km) cross-country trip from California to Wisconsin. The article is said to have sold more Westfields than anything else the company could do to advertise their cars.

Production of the original Westfield XI ceased in 1986, although the company offered unsold kits until about 1988. In 2004 Westfield restarted production of the Westfield XI, still based on the A-series engine. At the end of 2010, Westfield have once again ended production of the XI.