c.1956 Lotus Eleven Series 1 'Le Mans'
No Reserve

Sold for £45,000

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: Un-Reg (previously 'OVB 7F')
Chassis No: N.W.204 (see text)
MOT: None

Motor car location: Cheshire

  • Purchased by Mike Offley and the late Terry Harrison from Peter Cranage in December 1971 complete with a reputedly ex-Gerard 'Jabby' Crombac Coventry Climax FWA 1100cc engine
  • A Series 1 car with split Ford axle front suspension and a De Dion rear end
  • Tested by Gerry Marshall at Silverstone (without permission)
  • Shunted at Thruxton in 1975 and awaiting repair ever since
  • Accompanying paperwork includes a green registration logbook which list the chassis number as N.W.204
  • Engine number quoted on the green logbook matches that of the accompanying Coventry Climax engine (FWA 6577)
  • Please be aware that chassis number 204 (without any prefix) resides in America

According to its accompanying green logbook, this Lotus Eleven was licensed for road use as a ‘built up vehicle’ with chassis number: ‘N.W. 204’, engine number: ‘FWA 6577’ and registration number: ‘OVB 7F’ by Greater London Council on 14th August 1967. The first owner is listed as Paul Eric Slough, an employee of Normand (Mayfair) Ltd, and numerous bills on file from Coventry Climax Engines Ltd, Borg & Beck, Hardy Spicer & Co and Len Street (Engineering) Ltd suggest that he spent much of 1966-1967 refurbishing the sports racer.

The origins of the chassis are currently a mystery but ‘N.W. 204’ should not be confused with ‘204’ which was supplied new to Ed Freutel of Los Angeles and is still apparently resident Stateside (though, another ‘204’ surfaced on this side of The Pond during the 1990s). The engine listed on the green logbook and which still accompanies the car (FWA 6577) is understood to have been first installed aboard the ex-Gerard ‘Jabby’ Crombac Lotus Eleven (‘152’) and then transferred to the ex-Le Mans 750cc Lotus Eleven (‘519’). The latter still exists in Australia albeit with a different powerplant.

Acquired by James Edward Puddephatt of Inkberrow, Worcs in November 1969, the Lotus then passed to Peter Cranage before being bought by the late Terry Harrison and his friend Mike Offley two years later (Mike was Terry’s most frequent driver during their days rallying Mini Cooper S and Ford Escort Twin-Cam cars etc). A handwritten receipt on file confirms that the Eleven changed hands for £715.

Campaigned by Terry Harrison at a variety of race circuits and hillclimbs from 1972 until 1975 when a shunt at the Thruxton chicane saw it retired, ‘N.W.204’ has been awaiting renovation ever since. A Lotus Eleven convert, Terry acquired another Series 1 chassis as well as a Series 2 plus a variety of relevant spares. However, the offer of driving Tony Roger’s similar machine saw Terry’s work on his own cars shelved.

Known to the Historic Lotus Register for over four decades, it is possible that further research by its members will unearth a factory identity for this wonderful old warhorse. Loosely assembled for photography purposes and still wearing stickers from the JCB championship, the Eleven comes with a wealth of paperwork including bills from the late 1960s / early 1970s, race entry paperwork and general model information.

H&H are indebted to Lotus historian and author of 'Lotus - The Historic Years 1956-1958, The History of the Lotus Eleven' for the following email he has kindly sent us:

Further to my E Mail of Lotus Eleven 11-534 I also looked at your sale details for Lotus Eleven 11-204. This is very interesting and I recall it when it was racing in the Lloyds & Scottish Historic Races in 1972-75.

Referring to my records Chassis 204 was one of 4 early Lotus Eleven Series 1 cars sold to USA (204-207).

This particular Chassis number was bought by Ed Freutel of Los Angeles and was shared in races in USA with Frank Monise. It was in fact the first Lotus Eleven on the West Coast of America. It was crashed by Monise at the Third Paramount Meeting in 1957. It was apparently rebuilt as the last time I saw this car was at Monterey in 2004.

There is another 11-204. In the 1990s an 11-204 was sold by Rob Lyall and Tony Hildebrand to Italy. This car was for sale at Luzzago Motors in Brescia in 1996.

Looking at your 11-204, this is undoubtedly a genuine Lotus Eleven with an racing history dating back to 1971. The ex-Jabby Crombac engine FWA 6577 was in his 11-152 and then transferred to the ex-750cc Le Mans Lotus Eleven 11-519 in 1958, which still exists in Australia, obviously with a different engine.

The Green Log Book OVB 7 F dates from August 1967 and is obviously a re-registration as Lotus Eleven 204 would date from May-July 1956. It was not uncommon to re-register an ex-racing Lotus Eleven with no road registration number later in its life. I did exactly the same in 1965 with my Lotus 11GT to sell it, and only discovered the original registration document some 10 years later!

Quite why 204 was chosen in this re-registration or where NW comes from is a mystery. However, the car can obviously still be identified by this 1967 registration number and documentation, but it is not the original 11-204. Does the car have HSCC paperwork which it probably had for the Lloyds & Scottish Historic racing in the 1970s?

A very nice and rare restoration project.

For more information, please contact:
Damian Jones
07855 493737


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