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First Lotus Elite sold and raced, and then restored on TV, to be auctioned

Silverstone will offer the 1958 track-ready coupe during a 2-day online sale


The Lotus Elite that debuted at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show and was the first Elite sold to a customer will be presented during The Silverstone Classic Live Online Auction from July 31 to August 1.

The beautiful little sports coupe has quite a history, originally sold to jazz legend Chris Barber – one of Colin Chapman’s favorite customers – who took the Lotus and prepared it as a race car to drive in competition.

Barber competed with his giant-killer Lotus for five seasons of International Sports Car racing in the U.K. and Europe.  It also was driven by Sir John Whitmore, who broke the class lap record at Spa in this car while on the way to a class victory.

lotus, First Lotus Elite sold and raced, and then restored on TV, to be auctioned, ClassicCars.com Journal
The fiberglass body is beautifully proportioned

After its brief racing career, the Lotus was hidden away for decades until it re-emerged in 2016, its owner having died before he could finish restoring the car.  The Elite was then sought after by Ant Anstead for his British TV show For the Love of Cars.

Anstead bought the coupe and, on a special edition of his show, featured its complete restoration to racing fettle. The recommissioning included consultation with Elite specialists to ensure that the car was properly done, the 4-cylinder engine rebuilt by Coventry Climax specialists, the original gearbox sourced and rebuilt, and installation of a high-quality roll cage made to FIA standards by Fabricage.

The Coventry Climax engine is fed by a pair of Weber carbs

The Lotus has the latest current FIA HTP papers, Period E: 1947-1961, which are valid until December 31, 2026, and provide a passport for major international events, Silverstone noted.

Silverstone sold this Lotus in 2016 after its restoration, but the current owner has never used it, the auction company said in a news release, so now it’s back for another sale in the same condition.

The Elite has a totally track-focused interior

“This is a superb little Lotus that has had an amazing life,” Nick Whale, Silverstone Auctions managing director, said in the release.  “Just over 1,000 Elites were made and not many cars have this type of wonderful history and provenance, it ticks every little box.

“It has been beautifully restored by Ant Anstead, now a presenter and master mechanic on Wheeler Dealers. This car will give the next owner so much joy and fun.”

For more information about Silverstone’s online sale, visit the auction website.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


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