CLA Build Stories: Tuft’s Eleven July 2014

Picking up the Eleven

Club Lotus Australia is full of interesting people who are up to interesting things with interesting cars. We think that’s wonderful, so we’re going to share their stories with you here!

If you’d like to share your story on the club website, just send Seth a quick email at web@clublotus.com.au

In this post, we catch up with Ashton to find out more about his journey with the Tuft’s Eleven. If you’d like to see the future, find part 2 here and part 3 here.

Tuft’s Eleven July 2014

As those who know my wife will attest, she is extremely understanding and supportive of my affliction to cars, but even she raised an eyebrow over this one.

For some time I have been trying to work out what car I would like to drive in my dotage; top of the list were all the unattainable ones – Bentley Speed Six, Aston Martin DB5, Jaguar D type, Lotus Eleven etc etc

Then there were some more accessible options – Healy 3000, Jag E type etc. Great looking cars, but they don’t really light my fire to be honest – a bit, well, pedestrian.

I wanted something I could enjoy on the road, but also campaign occasionally in historic racing. At the same time, I have concluded that the Elan is not the right car to prep for historic racing, as its class would require me to spend a small fortune on it to make it competitive, and doing so would probably spoil what is currently a lovely road car.

So I was starting to pursue the option of a race car – a Brabham perhaps, or a RALT, or a Lotus, or a Lola or… well, you get the picture. I hadn’t really made a decision, in spite of kind offers to help from several friends!

And then late last week I got a call from Bruce Mansell to let me know that he was still expecting us to go ahead with a shed visit this year; this, inspite of his having lost the sight of both eyes in a terrible car accident last year! Obviously I was delighted to be able to say yes please how soon (November 11th as it happens, so put that in the diary!), and we got chatting about how his recovery is going, what he and (son) Nick are planning.

Now, those who know Bruce will know that he is a world authority on Lotus Elites, and also a consummate engine builder of the Coventry Climax engine (if you don’t know about this engine, you should read up – it was a game changer in its time).

So we were chatting about the cars, and as we discussed HSRCA (Historic Sports and Racing Cars Association) stuff, he casually mentioned that he was thinking of selling his Eleven… ELEVEN? Bruce, I had no idea you had an Eleven! Can I come round? Now? Please?

So the long and short is that I have bought one of my all-time dream cars, one I never in a month of Sundays thought I would get the chance to buy – after all, they never change hands (owners die before they sell the damn things) and as there are only 150 S1s and 270 or so in existence in total. They don’t exactly jump out at you!

Only slight snag is, the car looks like this currently:

Original sale photo from US

And that doesn’t tell all the story!

Underneath that beautiful body, I have to build an engine and transmission for it (fortuately Nick and Bruce have offered to help!), and although it is still a relatively complete kit (it is the last S1 never to have been commissioned, so it has never been driven!) it doesn’t have any electrics or plumbing… so that’ll be interesting.

However, with all projects, you have to start with the end in mind, so this is what I plan for it to look like….

Polished Eleven

The car comes as an S1 Club specification (as opposed to the Sprint (Ford-engined) or Le Mans (Climax 1500 and DeDion rear-end) car, and I plan to build it up as faithfully as possible to that original spec.

Wish me well, and if you can’t get hold of me for the next XX months, you will probably find me in the garage. And anyone interested in helping out, your assistance (or just company!) will be most welcome!

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