Lotus Eleven: 11 a golden number for Lotus
From 1956 to 1958, the Lotus Eleven (also spelled Lotus XI or Lotus 11) was one of the first technical and sporting successes of the make founded by Colin Chapman in 1952.
Designed by Colin Chapman and Frank Costin, the XI was the perfect expression of the main principles that would guide the Lotus adventure in motor racing: aerodynamic finesse and significant weight reduction. In the case of the Lotus XI, the latter was down to the use of aluminium bodywork on a tubular steel chassis and the whole weighed around 450 kilos.
The first engine installed in the Lotus XI was a 1100 cc Coventry Climax. In 1957, the second series was given a noticeable upgrade with an engine of Coventry Climax origin increased to 1500 cc.
With several category victories as well as wins in the Index of Performance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the XI was both a major sporting and commercial success for Lotus (270 cars built). It also firmly established its growing reputation for technical innovation confirmed later on in Formula 1 during the 1960s and 70s.
The characteristic shapes of the Lotus XI (curved wings and front bonnet, headrest behind the driving position and streamlined windscreen) were carried over to the Lotus 15, which succeeded it in 1958.
You can see the Lotus Eleven presented here racing in the Sixties Endurance grid.
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