Elite #1559 “went missing” for seven years. There are no records from December 19, 1963 (the factory sale date) to late 1970, when it was imported into the U. S.
We are actively seeking input from anyone who might be able to shed some light on where the car was and who owned it and invite comments or questions at the bottom of this page.
What we do know:
#1559 left the factory on Dec. 19, 1963
According to the Warren King ledger sheets, #1559 was sold to R. J. Fuller. However, our research has found no trace of anyone by that name.
The car arrived in the U. S. with the UK registration plate ABD 789B. Multiple attempts by a number of people have been unable to uncover any record of that number in the UK agencies.
The classified ad
It is extremely likely that this was the advertisement that caught the eye of the U. S. buyer…
This appeared in the July 1970 issue of Motor Sport Magazine, just a few months before 1559 arrived in the U. S.
The identifying elements in this advertisement are:
- It’s a twin-cam.
- It’s listed as a 1962. (Based on the CBU number, #1559 would have been a 1961, but stayed at the factory until is was sold in 1963.)
- Ford close-ratio gearbox (with alloy bell housing and tail-shaft.)
- Recently resprayed.
It was resprayed the original Red.
It was also true that the car had been recently (and rather crudely) resprayed.
(Note the photo of the registration plate above. It was obviously on the car during the respray.)
The wheels and tires
One discrepancy was that the car was listed as having 165 x 13″ tires, while this car was fitted with 15″ Semperits. Of note, was that the Semperits were like new, with the molding nubbles still intact.
The tire date codes were the 28th week of 1965, so it is possible that a set of earlier 15″ wheels and tires were substituted for the 13″ as part of a sales agreement.
The phone number:
Hingham (Norfolk) 254 was listed to Victor Grimwood, a Lotus employee who, according to Miles Wilkins, had done the twin cam installation in #1559.
This is a photo of the top center of the windscreen, showing the glue remaining from a decal that had apparently been removed from the glass at some time in the past.
Can anyone identify this?
Perhaps membership in a fraternal order? A sports team fan? A favorite pub?
There is strong evidence that #1559 sat out of doors for a long period of time and spent part of that time with the right-hand door removed and laying on its side.
There was a white precipitate in the inner door liners that could only have resulted from rain water collecting and then evaporating.
The very large quantity of precipitate would suggest many years of being exposed to the elements.
(The photo above is of the door liner, as received, photo-shopped onto a photo of the door to illustrate its orientation.)
I had the precipitate analyzed in the hopes of gaining some clues as to where it might have been sitting. (Sea salt? Sulfur? Diesel particulates?) Not much luck yet, but the report can be downloaded here if anyone is curious.
Another indicator of the neglect that #1559 must have endured is the absolutely astounding amount of rust that we found on the steel components.
The worst rust was in the passenger compartment, especially the seat adjusting rails and seat belt anchors. I suspect that the interior must have periodically filled with rain water to the door sills.
Interestingly, the seats were in good condition — but they had red upholstery, while the door panels were black. There is no evidence that Lotus shipped any Elites with mismatched interior colors, so I presume the seats were replaced prior to sale.
The new seats were definitely from an Elite, which could imply that the owner had access to a supply of Lotus components.
One reason that #1559 might have been off the road for an extended period of time might have been due to accident damage.
The left rear quarter of the body had been repaired, the left rear shock was bent (and full of water), and the right rear hub was damaged and repaired with braze.
#1559 arrived in the U. S. in this condition
It is clear that this neglect occurred in the UK, prior to being shipped to the U.S.
The photos below were taken shortly after the car was imported into the U. S. (That’s a 1971 Michigan license plate on the front of the car.) The condition of the car was essentially the same when it arrived in Vermont in 2016 – 45 years later.