Fiberglass was the '50s carbon fiber tough, versatile, lighter than steel and more affordable than aluminum. The Kaiser Darrin and Corvette sports cars were wrapped in fiberglass bodies, for instance. Colin Chapman, the founding engineer of Lotus, was bonkers for weight savings. It was inevitable that he would be drawn to the material. And so, the Elite. Weighing just 1,100 lbs and powered by a punchy, 75-hp Coventry Climax engine, the Elite (Type 14) was a successful race car, winning its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times. It was also a lovely little coupe, which made the moment when the suspension mounts punched through the stressed-skin monocoque all the more pathetic. The unreinforced fiberglass couldn't take the structural strain. In Chapman's cars, failure was always an option.
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