Lotus XI Le Mans (1956
Chassis Number 211
**Registration Number DEC 494
ENTRANT: Team Lotus
This Lotus Eleven was built as a works race car and entered in the 1956 Le Mans 24 hour race, driven by Cliff Allison and Keith Hall as race number 35.
**The road registration number DEC 494 has caused controversy for many years, since back home Cliff Allison’s
own personal Lotus 11- chassis 176 – was the actual car that was registered DEC494, not this team car chassis 211. The simple truth is that the works car required a road registration number to compete at Le Mans, and so Cliff Allison had just said "you can use the number of my car, nobody will know"…so that is precisely what they did, without actually UK road-registering 211 at all.
During the race the car was forced to retire on lap 89 with accident damage. As Cliff Allison was hurtling down the Mulsanne Straight that night a huge german Shepherd dog suddenly appeared right in his path. He aimed right to avoid it, only for the unfortunate animal to change its mind and dodge back right into the path of the Lotus. Team Lotus mechanic Ernie Unger recalled: "It was quite misty and Cliff said the impact was so severe it threw the car into a high speed spin, thankfully straight down the road. Cliff told me he laid down across the seats so as not to get his head knocked off if he hit anything
The three works cars were prepared for Le Mans are three of an exclusive group of perhaps eight Lotus Elevens, built in period with widened chassis frames, providing space for Le Mans regulation-width seats and cockpit and footwell minimum dimensions. The frame itself was actually eight inches wider than standard, with an additional 4-inches extra offset on each side, while the enclosing bodywork was itself no wider overall.
Shot the Goodwood Festival of Speed 30:06:2012 Ref: 87-306
Tagged: , Lotus , British , Racing , 1960’s