After he had finished with his Lotus VI PGP182 complete with a body of his own design Peter Kirwan Taylor purchased one of the last Doretti sports cars and ‘took the back off’ and turned it into a Coupé too meet his needs.
A couple of years later he was talking to Peter Lumsden and Paul Fletcher who planned on compete at Le Mans in 1956 with a Lotus XI and he suggested that they might fair better with a Coupé body. Peter K-T put the idea to Colin Chapman who responded that they would be better starting with a fresh design from scratch with the idea of designing of designing a car that would be competitive on the race track and be a viable proposition for ‘driving to the office’.
As on his special bodied Lotus VI Peter again opted for designing a car with a high waist line but now with an integral roof influenced by the design of his Doretti Coupé, the design was finalised in collaboration with Frank Costin, who not only had developed a special bodied Lotus Mark VIII but was also an aerodynamicist at the aircraft manufacturer de Havilland where Peter coincidentally was also working in his day time capacity as an accountant.
The uncluttered design has a drag coefficient of just 0.29 that compares favourably with vehicles being designed and manufactured today. The Elite, as the new Mark 14 became known, features a glass fibre monocoque with a steel sub frame to carry the engine and front suspension. Power came from a 75 hp Coventry Climax four cylinder engine which was inclined to lower the bonnet / hood line.
On the track the Elite was a huge success with six class wins scored at Le Mans, two of them including winning the Index of Thermal Efficiency, former ESPN commentator David Hobbs fitted his with a special 4 speed automatic gearbox took 15 wins from 18 starts during 1961 and ’62 and in the Antipodes Leo Geoghegan won the 1960 Australian GT championship also driving an Elite.
This particular well known example, seen here at Castle Combe, was first registered in 1962 and now belongs to a fellow member of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club who restored it after it had been lying in bits for 20 years.
Thanks for joining me on this second accountants edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at an award winning orange movie star. Don’t forget to come back now !