And now for something if not completely different, then certainly quite different. A kit car, yes, but a very good one we would say.
This Westfield Eleven is, of course, a replica of the Lotus Eleven, one of Colin Chapman’s earliest race cars, designed by Chapman and aerodynamicist, Frank Costin, to take on Le Mans in the 1950s, with a best result of 7th overall in 1956. It’s also a piece of British kit car history, being one of Westfield’s first kits, launched in 1983 by historic racer and Lotus aficionado, Chris Smith.
Smith would then go on to build an all fibreglass Lotus 7 replica, which didn’t go down very well with Lotus 7 custodians, Caterham Cars. Legal proceedings ensued and Smith was forced to change the design and styling, creating a clearly Seven inspired machine, but with a more modern slant.
Production of Westfield Eleven kits stopped in the early 90s, but it was relaunched in 2004, using the same basic chassis, fibreglass body and MG Midget derived running gear. This is one of the relaunched cars, built by the Westfield factory as a demonstrator in 2006. As such, it’s build quality is very high, indeed, looking every inch the 50s Lotus racer in British Racing Green.
It could be argued that the original Lotus Eleven was something of a kit car itself, in that while Chapman made the bodies and chassis, the rest of the running gear came from a variety of sources including the Coventry Climax engine that most Elevens used.
A Climax engine is a pretty exotic piece of kit, so it’s no surprise that in keeping with the MG Midget donor ethos, this Westfield Eleven uses 1275cc A-Series power, albeit bored out to 1380cc, and breathing through a single Weber 40 DCOE carb, with forged pistons. Ported and polished head, fast road cam and a lightened and balanced bottom end. Power is a rolling road verified 108bhp @ 4922rpm, which in a car weighing comfortable under 500kg, is plenty.
For added cruise ability, the original 4-speed midget gearbox has been replaced with a 5-speed Ford Type 9 gearbox, while a Midget live rear axle takes up the drive to the rear wheels.
Typical of what is a fun car, mileage is a modest 6488-miles and condition backs this up.
This is a car that you wear. The grippy bucket seats are pretty much directly over the rear axle. Your legs are outstretched, and feet work the closely positioned pedals. The upright, wood-rimmed steering wheel sits close to your chest, and the gearlever is flick of the wrist away. And with an aero screen, you might want goggles and a flying jacket, for the full Biggles effect.
Skinny 13in wheels and tyres make for modest levels of grip, which means lots of fun at equally modest speeds in a car that was built for a B road. Oh, and then there’s the noise. There’s really nothing like a Weber and an open exhaust. It’s hard to imagine having more fun for the money.