I might have had a tough time figuring out what to call this car, but I’ll tell you what, I know I love it, whatever it is! Unusually for a vintage race car, it’s offered here on craigslist and is located in San Diego, California. The price is a relatively steep $17,600, but when you compare that with a “real” Lotus 11 or even some of the more recent replicas, it seems awfully inexpensive!
There aren’t many cars more attractive to me than a Lotus 11, even a copy of one that’s been shortened and narrowed. I found some more details on this particular car’s history here. This car features a 1952 Don Miller chassis that was re-bodied by Gil Knudson and Preston Rush in Santa Ana, California in 1962. Knudson shortened and narrowed a new aftermarket fiberglass Lotus 11 body to replace the older Miller body and fabricated a new aluminum center section and doors. Knudson was a degreed engineer who developed products and held patents for Bendix Corp. He had his own dynamometer at Bendix and used Crosley engines as test beds for injection systems and magnetos–the car featured a Crosley engine even then.
The car was apparently raced in California from its creation until Preston Rush got married. It then passed through a series of owners detailed on this site and was offered earlier in 2016 on eBay. I’m not clear whether it was sold at that time or not. There’s a video of the car being driven, albeit slowly, right here. I’m surprised this information isn’t in the craigslist ad. If the car hasn’t been repaired since then, there’s a small tear in the fiberglass at the right side front of the rear body, a broken spoke in the steering wheel (although the seller at that time recommended a smaller wheel for easier access) and some chips in the plastic headlight covers, but at that point a new set came with the car.
The interior is quite plain, even for a racing car, although I suppose that is typical for the time. An owner in the late 1970’s modified the frame to drop the seat lower, but if you view the video you’ll see that it’s still a very tiny, very low automobile that you sit on rather than in. Those are only 12″ wheels, and the wheelbase is only 77-1/2″!
The engine is a Crosley unit that has been built by a reputable engine builder and features a Weber carburetor. It certainly seems to run well in the video. I’m not sure how much power you’d get out of a modified Crosley, but I know many H-Production specials were successfully powered by them. I would dearly love to get this out on a track (once I replaced the tires and probably the lightened wheels) and think it would be delightful–if I would fit, which is questionable. How about you? Does the “Bogus Lotus” aspect turn you off, or do you view this as a very small chapter in the homebuilt sports car book and worth saving? I’m certainly in the latter group!