Motorsport in the 1950s is understandably reminisced as a golden era. The development and innovation among sports cars of the period was greater than arguably in any other in the sports illustrious history. In a short space of time developments such as Fuel Injection seen on the Mercedes SLR and Disc Brakes on Jaguar's D and C-Types changed motoring (not just racing) for ever. It was this magical era that saw the greatest drivers the likes of Fangio, Moss, Clark, Scott-Brown, Hamilton, Gendebien and more (often on alternate weekends to Formula One) piloting open cockpit cars around the greatest circuits of the world, Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, Goodwood, Silverstone, Monza, Spa and the Fabled Nurburgring. There are perhaps no more iconic racing cars than those of this period, the cars were an insatiable mix of beauty, power and speed.
By the end of the decade in 1959 there were five outstanding models; the Jaguar Long Nose D-Type, Lister's Knobblys and Costins all shared a common 3.8 Litre Jaguar power unit, the 3 litre Ferrari Testarossas took the 1960 Le Mans victory, and Aston Martin's DBR1 was an equal rival in the 3 Litre Class. Remarkably there was another competitor setting a similar pace to these big boys, designed in England by the genius of Colin Chapman and driven by Graham Hill amongst others; the Lotus XV.
The Lotus Fifteen was born directly from the successful Lotus XI which had established the Lotus name onto the sports racing scene. In total 270 Lotus Eleven's were built and today these cars remain desirable and effective in modern Historic Motorsport. Unsurprisingly given its popularity in the day, 1950s Sports Racing cars remain an extremely popular grid within Historic Motorsport as we know it today and good 1950s sports cars are eligible for Blue Riband Stirling Moss Series, Le Mans Classic and the Goodwood Revival. True to period, Listers and Lotus XV's remain amongst the front running competitors. In the case of the XV the redesigned body allowed the driver to sit much lower as well as the obvious aerodynamic advantages. The XV utilised a larger engine than the 11 and with it came greater performance. Chassis design was similar to its predecessor however drastic changes were made to the rear suspension and brake setup with Chapman struts and inboard brakes, both influenced from the Lotus XVI Formula 1 car. Just 27 Lotus XVs were built making each example extremely desirable.
This example is one of three Series 2 cars sold new buy then USA Lotus dealer and importer Jay Chamberlain in 1958. The S2 XV was the first to get a more traditional gearbox in the form of an MG Magnette case replacing the 5-speed sequential of the Series 1 cars. Chamberlain raced the car in 1959 and 1960, entering into the 1959 & 1960 Times Grand Prix, 1959 Nassau Speed Week and other SCCA events in late '59 and '60. Having other XVs at his disposal at the time, events were less regular. After its purchase by Hank Tubman in 1961 he entered the 1961 Times Grand Prix; according to expert Bill Colson, Tubman had told his wife if he didn't win, he'd quit.
He didn't win and subsequently sold chassis 612-2 to the son of the owner of the Fremont Hotel in Las Vegas. The owner used the engine in a single seat formula car and during this period the car was used as a prop in the Elvis Presley film 'Viva Las Vegas' where it appears on a trailer in one scene. Discovered in 1983 by two brothers, it was confirmed to be an original Lotus XV by Colson. The first restoration of the car started in 1993 and it began racing again in 1995. Having raced regularly at perhaps the most respected vintage races in the USA, the Monterey Historic & Sonoma Historic, this vehicle become a two time winner of the Performance and Presentation award.
It was most recently restored in 2016 by marque specialists G-Cat who have since both maintained and run the car competitively across Europe, with regular victories with its currently equipped 2 Litre Climax engine and ZF gearbox, it is very much a front running car. The car also comes with comprehensive race spares package. This XV Series 2 is available for viewing at our showroom based just outside London.