HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1960 Lotus Elite

Pick of the Day: 1960 Lotus Elite

Powered by an upgraded 1500cc Climax FWB engine

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When I was in high school in the early 1980s, I had the honor of having a legendary racing driver teach me how to drive. The man was my best friend Jody’s dad, Jay Chamberlain.

Jay Chamberlain was a hot rodder living in Hollywood, California. In 1950 he built a hot rod and planned to use it in competition in the California Racing Association, a dirt-track racing organization that included among its members Troy Ruttman, Jim and Dick Rathman, and Jack McGrath.

1960 lotus elite, Pick of the Day: 1960 Lotus Elite, ClassicCars.com Journal
1960 Lotus Elite

Chamberlain quickly lost interest in racing around in circles and switched to road racing sports cars. He moved to a larger shop in North Hollywood where he sold, serviced and race prepped European sports cars.

1960 lotus elite, Pick of the Day: 1960 Lotus Elite, ClassicCars.com Journal
1960 Lotus Elite

While running this business Chamberlain discovered Lotus when one of his customers brought in a new Lotus Nine to prep for the next race. Chamberlain was excited about the simplicity, elegance and low weight of the car. In fact, he was so taken with the Lotus that he ordered one for himself.

Chamberlain was immediately successful racing his Mark Nine and began to import them into the U.S. During this time he would import several Nines, a Ten, and eventually the Eleven. Colin Chapman took notice of Chamberlain who was not only selling a lot of Lotus cars, as well as winning races in them. This culminated with them meeting at Sebring in 1956 where Chapman offered Chamberlain the exclusive Lotus franchise in the U.S.

1960 lotus elite, Pick of the Day: 1960 Lotus Elite, ClassicCars.com Journal
1960 Lotus Elite

This would begin a relationship with Lotus that included a class win in a Lotus 11 at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans. He would also race at other events including Sebring and in three non-point F1 races. This is the man who taught me to drive a manual transmission. The car he taught me to drive in was one of his favorites and he had raced at Sebring, a Lotus Elite.

1960 lotus elite, Pick of the Day: 1960 Lotus Elite, ClassicCars.com Journal
1960 Lotus Elite

And this brings us to the reason for such a long lead for a Pick of the Day, a 1960 Lotus Elite finished in white with a British Racing Green stripe over a red interior.

1960 lotus elite, Pick of the Day: 1960 Lotus Elite, ClassicCars.com Journal
1960 Lotus Elite

According to the St. Louis, Missouri dealer offering this Elite it’s a Series 2 car and is said to have been sold new in California to Jay Chamberlain. It was then then sold to Dennis Ortenburger, author of The Original Lotus Elite: Racing Car for the Road and one of the world’s foremost experts on the model, who owned the car for 47 years. The car changed hands again in 2013 and the new owner had the Elite restored. It’s now powered by a larger and more powerful 1500cc Climax FWB engine. They call this Elite, “a superb example of this delicate, beautiful, and highly effective sports car.”

I’ve had a lot of time in these cars and yes there is just enough room for someone 6’4” to drive it. These cars only weigh 1,100 lbs and are the definition of a perfectly balanced sportscar. There is something magical about driving one of these cars and a Lotus Elite with this pedigree is the one to buy. Buying an Elite that needs restoration and repairs could quickly cost as much to fix as this one is being offered for sale.

1960 lotus elite, Pick of the Day: 1960 Lotus Elite, ClassicCars.com Journal
1500cc Climax FWB engine

The asking price of this 1960 Elite is $109,500 which is the correct amount for an excellent car with this kind of pedigree.

If you want a truly special sports car with a strong Lotus heritage, this Elite is a car to buy immediately.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I am a normal size nutcase, who drove a Lotus Elite (once) back in the day.
    These cars are super tiny inside.
    Only very short skinny, flexible folks should even consider a circa 1960 Lotus Elite.
    Remember! Colin Chapman was only 5′-4″ tall.

  2. Your magnificent story about the Lotus Elite and Jay Chamberlain including your own experience in one just added untold value to this car. A pleasurable read and a beautiful car. I hope it sells for an amount in excess of the asking price.

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