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Visual Sunday: Painstakingly Beautiful Fibreglass Monocoque

in 1957, Colin Chapman shook up the world of fibreglass car manufacturing with the worlds first fibreglass monocoque construction: the revolutionary and brilliant Lotus Elite Type 14.

2 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt

    Indeed @tony-wawryk, the original Elite is not just a hugely innovative construction, but also immensely beautiful. But as with so many of Chapman’s idea’s, being a leading force with new technology brings both challenges and problems with it. The fibreglass monocoque was made from several separate mouldings and bonding them together left plenty of weak areas in the monocoque. The mouldings would come apart, suspension components would come loose and so on…
    The next fibreglass monocoque to see production was the Rochdale Olympic only two years later. Granted, even as an Olympic owner myself, I can’t possibly claim that it is even remotely as elegant as the Elite. Of course, Rochdale also had the benefit of learning from Champan’s mistakes with the Elite. The result was a hugely superior fibreglass monocoque where the entire body shell was one big moulding thereby leaving no weak joins.
    All that said, I would obviously still love to own a Lotus Elite! However, seeing as they now demand about seven to eight times the price of a Rochdale Olympic, that’s highly unlikely to ever happen. I’ll just stick to my Rochdale… :-)


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