19th Jun, 2024 13:00

Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

  Lot 22

1953 Lotus MkVI 'Works Demonstrator'
From the estate of the late Graham Nearn, founder of Caterham Cars

Sold for £41,000

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: 1611 H
Chassis No: MKVI 9
MOT: Exempt

  • ‘Works demonstrator’ for Lotus, completed in July 1953
  • Famously raced by Colin Chapman at Goodwood in-period
  • Loaned to various magazines in-period as a demonstrator, including Autocar, Autosport and Motor magazines
  • Fitted with a 1508cc Ford Consul engine
  • Entered from the estate of the late Graham Nearn

Arguably the second most historically significant MkVI (after the prototype), ‘1611 H’ found fame as the first Lotus Works Demonstrator. Driven to victory at the BARC Goodwood meeting on 25th July 1953 by none other than Colin Chapman, the two-seater continued its winning ways that summer at Thruxton and Silverstone etc. Utilising lessons learnt from earlier cars, its spaceframe structure - built by John Teychenne and David Kelsey’s newly formed Progress Chassis Company – incorporated revised front suspension geometry and a stronger Panhard Rod mount.

As part of the initial batch of MkVI cars, ‘1611 H’ was individually bodied by Williams & Pritchard and so differed in minor detail from its siblings (nosecone profile etc). Not content with the copy its race results had generated, Chapman loaned the Works Demonstrator to Autocar, Autosport and Motor magazines for road testing purposes during 1953 and 1954 with the latter publication describing it as ‘that preposterously fast Lotus’. An article in Road & Track prompted Stateside interest, while other MkVIs sold to Canada and Australia. Further notable as the car which started Gerard ‘Jabby’ Crombac’s love affair with the marque, the renowned Swiss motor racing journalist and author bought ‘1611 H’ from Chapman in 1954. Relocating to France, the Lotus went racing once more before being supplanted by an Eleven.

Repatriated to the UK, the MkVI was bought by the founder of Caterham Cars, the late Graham Nearn. Recognising the Works Demonstrator’s importance he had it restored. Loaned to The British Motor Museum at Gaydon for several years, ‘1611 H’ is still owned by the Nearn family. Upgraded with a Ford Consul 1500cc engine during its refurbishment, the Lotus has been on static display as part of their collection in recent years. As such, it would benefit from sympathetic recommissioning prior to a return to road or track usage. Pictured in many of the company’s earliest brochures / flyers and a former Goodwood race winner, ‘1611 H’ is a milestone car in Lotus history with concrete links to Chapman, Crombac and Nearn. Surely worthy of a place in another collection, it is offered for sale with V5C Registration Document and history file.

For more information, please contact:
Lucas Gomersall
07484 082430


Auction: Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 19th Jun, 2024

An auction of classic, collector and performance motorcars held at the iconic and visually stunning Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Venue Details 

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