Lotus Elite Mk. 14 #44 – Ixo

Mk. 14
1960 Lotus Elite Mk.14 #44
Pilots: R. Masson, C. Laurent. 
Team: Roger Masson
Race: 13th overall (1st in GT 1.3) at Le Mans in 1960
Ixo - LMC 096 (diecast)

Published 09/24/21

The Lotus Elite (Lotus Type XIV or Mk. 14) was proof that Colin Chapman could also design road cars. Produced from 1957 to 1961, it was as innovative as Lotus’ racing cars. Before debuting at the 1957 London Motor Car Show, the car was in development for a whole year. With input from racing drivers, Chapman created what today we would call a “street legal race car”. Totally out of the norm for the time, the Mk. 14 had disk brakes on all four corners and independent suspension. Though other cars had a fiberglass body, none sported a chassis made with the same material. The Elite’s chassis was a monocoque tub, made of glass-reinforced plastic (GRFP). However, it had a steel subframe to support the engine and front suspension. There was also a steel windscreen-hoop that provided mounting points for door hinges. With that, it only weighed 503 kg!

Mk. 14
Interestingly, the Mk. 14 #44 came only one lap behind my other 1960 class winner, the MGA Twin-Cam.

To move such a lightweight body, Chapman didn’t need a big engine. So he used a Coventry Climax FWE all-aluminum inline-4. Displacing 1216 cm³, it delivered only 75 hp. That definitively sounds weak, however if you do the math, that translates to 140 hp/ton. And that value was quite impressive for late 1950s’ standards. Lotus produced a total of 1015 units of the Elite, and on the grid of the 1960 24 Heures du Mans there were three Mk. 14. This #44 is chassis #EM 1246, and unfortunately I couldn’t find much about it, other than it only raced once at La Sarthe. Nonetheless, at the hands of Roger Masson and Claude Laurent, #44 came in 13th overall and first in the GT 1.3 class. The other two Mk. 14 were not so lucky and both abandoned in the first half of the race.

The only other Lotus model to win at La Sarthe was the Lotus Eleven.

To the best of my knowledge this is not a very recent offering from Ixo. And as a norm, the brand’s older releases are not what I would call great. While that may be true, this Mk.14 is quite a nice model. Well, it surely would look MUCH better if it didn’t have dead-eye-headlights… 🙄 Not terrific, obviously, but with a good enough detail level. Even so, I’m positive that it won’t be a very popular choice among collectors in general. However, being a class winner, this may appeal to the Le Mans nut. Ixo also offers the 1961, 1962 and 1963 class-winning Mk.14, while Spark makes the 1961 class winner. Unfortunately though, with the exception of this #44 and the 1962 winner, these winning cars are not very easy to find.

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