Eleven in Garage

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In this post, we catch up with Ashton to find out more about his journey with the Tuft’s Eleven. Enjoy part 1 here and part 3 here.

Tuft’s Eleven August 2014

Time for a quick update!

Yes, it is a significant project, however with the amazing support I have found I am even more confident it is going to prove achievable… so much so I have set my objective to be ready for Lotus 2015 in the Barossa Valley!

Publicly declaring my intention to build the car has helped to keep me focused on it in spite of the cold and dark, and the support I have had has been fantastic (more in a moment).

I have broken the plan down into a project plan (really? What a surprise from a project manager!!) and got started on stuff, as follows.

First up I had a conversation with the Chief Eligibility Officer for CAMS – many thanks to David Mottram for the kind introduction. Bryan Miller was wonderfully helpful, and ensured I started heading in the right direction with the very first decision I had to make (and not in a hurry) which was whether to build the car as a Club specification (as I had planned) or a Le Mans specification.

Essentially the Club was the standard racing config back in 1956, while the Le Mans, as the name suggests, went to Le Mans and elsewhere for endurance racing. As Bryan was happy for it to be built as either, I then had a lot of research and decision making to do regarding the benefits of either.

I have finally come down on the side of building a Club spec car, largely for purist originality reasons (there are a lot more Le Mans spec cars out there than were ever built by the factory!!) and partly it is the pragmatic ability to get the project underway – the cost and difficulty of sourcing a de Dion tube, for example, was off-putting! So now I can progress the Approval in Principle documentation with CAMS.

Simultaneously I joined the HSRCA, and, combined with many conversations with (the ever patient) Ed Holly, managed to get in touch with several of the local Eleven owners here.

Apparently there are about 12 Elevens – confusingly! Between them all, the information and insight I have gleaned has been fundamental in developing the project plan, and in starting to source the parts I still need. I’d like to send a huge thank you to Ed, Mike Bennett, Tony Galletly, John Partridge, Peter Yeomans, Warwick Bisley and Bruce Mansell, and, of course, Vic Thomas, the Registrar for Lotus Elevens in the UK. It is quite surprising, once you start to write down the list, how many parts you do need, even for a relatively simple and complete car like this Eleven!

So the next step was to start to contact the various contacts and craftsmen I need help from.

Mark Natoli ( has been kind enough to agree to do the bodywork (I really think my experience with a hammer and dolly on my old Escort won’t cut it with the 20 gauge aluminium bodywork!). This means that I have to get the front clam down to him.

Colin Dodds from Sprite Parts (the gearbox and drive shaft were common parts on BMC cars) has agreed to sort out the various gearboxes I have and build one on the smoothcase I have. Through Ed I have found a fabricator to build the fuel tank (Ed has also kindly leant me his old tank as a template) and there is a wonderful company in Victoria called VinWire who specialise in wiring looms for vintage cars – who would have thought it! So Paul Vermont at Vinwire is on the case to put together the wiring loom for me. Nick and Bruce Mansell have kindly agreed to help me build the engine and of course Mike Brotherwood in the UK is a source of endless useful tips and advice (and parts!).

Pleasingly, little parcels have started arriving already – this week saw the rear light turn up (which funnily enough is identical to the tail light on my AJS 16M!) and the replacement fuse box arrived too.

The car itself hasn’t changed appearance at all since going into the garage, but that’s likely to start to happen soon; the next phase of activity will include jacking it up and removing the wheels, so the bearings can be checked and replaced if necessary, and the brakes cleaned, tested and rebuilt.

Meanwhile, some photos to help keep me focused.

Ed Holly’s car pre-painting:

Lotus Eleven Eastern Creek

Peter Yeoman’s car on the track (where it should be!):

Lotus Eleven on the Track

And my garage, just to remind me how much I still have to do:

Eleven in Garage

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