Hagerty Video: Ultra RARE: Colin Chapman’s Lotus Eleven + 327 Corvette Stingray 4-speed | Barn Find Hunter

Posted: 2023-04-04 12:00:42
Author: Hagerty
Episode 135

In this episode of “Barn Find Hunter,” Tom tries to find Cars within walking distance from his vacation home in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Much to his surprise, he is able to find many different makes and models. Tune in to see what he finds.

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SPECIAL THANKS to Lenn Soderlund who designed the new Barn Find Hunter logo you see featured in this episode. Like you, Lenn is an avid Barn Find Hunter fan who took it upon himself to design a logo and send it to us. We loved it so much we made it the new face of the series.
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0:00 Intro
0:24 1959 MG A
1:17 Bought it with a Credit Card
1:39 Original Condition
2:48 First rebuild
3:05 Second rebuild
3:30 Why it’s parked
4:16 Ferrari 308 GTS
5:01 MG TD
5:11 Bought for $225
5:24 America Love for MG
5:53 Colin Chapman’s Lotus Eleven
6:26 Engine: Coventry Climax
7:16 Racing Mille Miglia
7:42 Former Drivers
8:04 How it was purchased
8:25 2022 Mille Miglia
9:09 How Tom found it
10:17 Documentation
11:39 1965 Corvette Stingray
12:54 Why he bought it
15:29 Engine & Specs
15:56 Aftermarket Parts
16:24 Outro

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Like what you see? Watch our other series including:
Redline Rebuilds | Time-lapse engine rebuilds from start to finish http://bit.ly/RedlineRebuild
Barn Find Hunter | Tom Cotter searches the country for abandoned cars http://bit.ly/BarnFIndHunter
Jason Cammisa on the Icons | The definitive car review
Revelations | Untold Stories About Automotive Legends with Jason Cammisa

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Hagerty Video Transcript

– Sometimes we fly to remote locations to look for old cars. Sometimes we drive to locations. This episode we’re gonna walk. So, you know, walking around this town like I do, I used to run but now I don’t run so much anymore. You get to peek in garages. But then, you know, sometimes

If I see a garage that looks inviting, I’ll peek in the window and see something inside there. So, you know, walk past here and the garage door is open and I said, son of a gun, there’s an old MG in there. So this is Jeff and he lives here

And he owns the MGA that I saw as I walked by. So like how long has the MGA been parked? – Oh, it’s been, probably five years now. – Well, let’s take a look at it. – Let’s going this way and not much light in here, but yeah

It’s tucked over in the corner as tight as it can be so that we can use the rest of the garage. – [Tom] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So what year is that one? – [Jeff] It’s a ] 59. I’ve had it since 1975. Bought it for $400. – [Tom] And where’d you buy it?

In Bar Harbor. – [Both] Bar Harbor, Maine. – [Jeff] But when I went to my dad and said I’d like wanted to buy this car, he laughed at me. He said, no way. He thought that was a stupid, stupid thing, which

For a 20 year old to buy a 16 year old sports car probably was stupid. But, so I went to the bank thinking I’ll get my first car loan, right, I go to the bank and said I’d like a car loan. Oh great, Jeff, sit down, you know?

And I tell ’em I want a car loan for $400. And to their credit, didn’t laugh, but they did point out that they don’t do, didn’t do car loans for that little amount of money, but they said but we’ll give you a credit card.

And to this day I have my credit card, member since 1975. That’s how I know when I bought it. – You bought it on a credit card? – [Jeff] Yeah. – Isn’t that cool? Wow. – [Jeff] Yeah. – And what kind of shape was it? Was it like this?

– [Jeff] Oh no, it was a brush painted navy blue. So streaks from the brush? – [Tom] Yeah, yeah, yeah. – It has the Lucas Electrical system that you just had to get used to pulling over occasionally and opening the hood and stomping out a fire.

It was, but it ran, you know, it ran, it got me through. And then that year I actually transferred from the University of Maine to a little college out in Indiana. And so we drove it out to Indiana with- – You drove it from Maine to Indiana. – Yeah, with a friend

Of mine that was also transferring out there and my dog, all my possessions on the back. – [Tom] Wow. – [Jeff] Both of our possessions actually, so. – [Tom] Wow. – [Jeff] Yeah, but we made it out there. I was very fortunate when I got out there

To get a roommate that we had a house where it was sort of a split level house that you could drive down below when it had a garage. And this roommate had been taking apart and putting together a Volkswagen since he was a kid. He just, and I’m not a motorhead

I didn’t know anything really until I bought this car. I’ve learned a lot about mechanics owning this car. – [Tom] Yeah. – [Jeff] That winter we took it apart completely, stripped the paint. – Whoa. Really? – [Jeff] Took the paint off completely. We replaced every moving part in the engine.

Put it all back together again. Got it, except should replace the crank shaft ’cause as soon as I took it out in the spring, the crank shaft broke in half. Everything else was so tight. – [Tom] Wow. – [Jeff] You know? – [Tom] Yeah. Compression, wow. – [Jeff] Yeah.

– [Tom] Take it all apart again. – Yeah I had to hitch, had to come back to Bar Harbor, Maine for a summer. So I had to put it back in the garage for the summer and I hitchhiked back to Maine. Get back there in the following winter.

We took the motor all apart again and replaced the crank shaft and we did a good job except something, one of the pistons, it’s already bored out as much as it can. So the rings on one of the pistons. I don’t think we got in quite right.

And the only real effect of that is has plenty of power but it always smoked a little bit. But part of the reason it’s been sitting this time is the smoking got worse to the point we’re going down the road no problem. But every time I came to a stop sign,

If somebody came up behind me, I felt a little bad for them. – Yeah, yeah, I get it. So you’re coming up on 50 years of ownership on this thing pretty soon, wow. – Yeah, you had to mention that. Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.

– [Tom] So I can figure out how old you are. – [Jeff] Okay. Yeah. – Well sir, listen, I know you run businesses and stuff so thanks for joining us here. – Yeah, well thanks for taking interest in my car and- – Yep. – Sorry I didn’t, you know.

– Oh no, I like it like this. – Clean it out a little bit. – So I’m gonna continue walking ’cause we have a lotus to see. – Wow. Really? – Yeah. – [Jeff] Cool. – You didn’t know that. So what we’re gonna see now is a car that a guy owns.

He’s become a friend of mine. And this is actually the first old car that I found since moving to Boothbay Harbor. So there’s three cars in here and all three are worth mentioning but one is especially worth mentioning. So this is my friend Bob and Gene’s house

And they’re not here, but they trust me to come here and share their cars with you. Interesting is a Ferrari 308. And he is not the original owner but he bought it when it was almost new. And he’s, this is like a daily driver for him, believe it or not.

He does his own mechanic work on it. It’s an original shape, original paint and you just see him buzzing around town and life is good to see a Ferrari on the road. This car is one, you know that I know really well. It’s an MGTD and I restored one

Of these and actually just recently sold it. I know them well. I know every nut and bolt on these cars. Bob bought this in 1961 for 225 bucks. Here we are on 2022. This car has been part of his life 61 years. I really have to hand it to him.

You know, this was the car that America fell in love with. MG Sports cars after World War ii, There was MGTC, then the TD, the TF ultimately the MGA which we saw just a little while ago. And so this has been restored. It’s got a 1,250 CC engine.

I admire Bob that he bought this I think right outta college. But we’re not here to see this car, the Ferrari, or this car, the MG. We’re here to see this car. This is an extremely rare it’s called a Lotus 11, lightweight aluminum body. Lightweight aluminum interior. A tubular frame that’s very lightweight.

And it was built in England. The head of lotus was Colin Chapman, slogan, his motto was add lightness, in a racing car, it should not be built to last more than one race. It should fall apart at the finish line. Otherwise it was overbuilt, it was too heavy. Interesting philosophy, powered by

And this is really interesting, a Coventry Climax motor. And this is the little Godiva emblem that was all, on all the Coventry Climax engines. Coventry Climax interestingly started off as a water pump engine in England. So a company made water pumps and a bunch of young race drivers said, wait a minute,

Those motors out in the field there, they’ve got overhead cams, they’re aluminum, that might be a good race car. So suddenly farmers were losing their engines, they’d wake up in the morning in the motor that would be powering their water pump was gone. There’d be a race that weekend

In Goodwood or Silverstone or whatever. Anyway, these wound up becoming the engines to race, Coventry Climax then started to build racing engines as a, in addition to water pump motors. But this one’s particularly interesting because it has period racing history. It ran in the 1957 Mille Miglia driven by Gregor Grant.

Mille Miglia means thousand mile. And that’s a race in Italy that ran a thousand miles through towns on public roads with cows in the road and people cheering but had been run for years before and years after. Well this one actually drove in that race. It was also driven in various races

By Cliff Allison, Innes Ireland, both, you know, in fact, Innes just passed away two months ago. Cliff Allison, Innes, and actually Colin Chapman actually the guy that built Lotus cars, he actually raced this car in some circuit races in the UK back in the day.

So Bob came across this because he was the art director at an ad agency and they handled Lotus advertising in the United States and Lotus was kind of folding up their tent and they said, “Hey Bob, you interested in that old Lotus in the back?”

And so he got this thing for, you know, not much money. I think he got it 1979. Sadly he wanted to enter it in the reenactment of the Mille Miglia in 2022, every year they do a reenactment. But you must have a car that had competed in the event back in the day.

Well this did, sadly, when COVID got in the way, Bob became 80, this year, he would’ve been 81. They said anybody 80 or over can’t compete in that race. So he sadly lost his opportunity to race this in the Mille Miglia. He was gonna do it with his daughter.

I’m gonna flip this up just so you can see how sleek this car is but it looks like a wind cheating envelope Drive, it’s right hand drive, driver’s head. There’s a faring right here, to me, it’s one of the most beautiful race cars I’ve ever built.

How I found this car, I love Boothbay Harbor. My wife and I had come here, you know, for a week vacation now and then for a long time. And then we wound up buying a little house here. And so this is where we spend our summer.

And so I said to my wife, you know, there’s no car people in Boothbay Harbor. It’s sailing people, there’s a lot of artists. This is where I come to read books and write books. So we went to an art crawl, standing there looking at the artwork on the wall.

And I hear two gentlemen talking over there and he says, “Yeah, so then I downshifted into third year and took the apex early, whatever.” And I said to my wife, “Excuse me, but that’s a conversation I need to be a part of.” And I walked over there and I said, “Excuse me,

Are you talking about going into the Big Bend at Lime Rock?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Well my name’s Tom Carter, I didn’t know there were any racing guys in town.” So I met, that’s how I met Bob. So this is actually the first car I found. He said, “You come over tomorrow,

I’m gonna show you a car in my garage, it’ll flip you out.” And this is it. Because Bob and his wife are not here, they allowed me entry into the garage but he did leave his scrapbook. And so I just wanna show you this, chassis number 308,

That’s the car when it was new and racing. This car was built for the grueling 1,000 mile world champion Italian road race known as the Mille Miglia. So this, these are pictures and it’s so rare to have pictures like this. These pictures from 1957.

So 65 years ago, 66 years ago, this car was going through tech inspection for the Milli Amelia. So here it is, Gregor Grant going through tech inspection in Italy. So there’s a map here showing the thousand mile race through public roads. You know, again, period racing pictures. Here’s some racing that it did

With driver Clifford Allison at, qualified 18th, finished ninth in a six hour race. Finished first, qualified fifth, finish first and a DNF. You know, not bad but here’s Colin Chapman, there’s the car. Just an amazing piece of history. Stories about it back in the day. Stories about it when it was restored.

There’s Bob McKay back when he bought the car in 1979. Bob bought that car in 1961, still has it today. Bought this car in 1979, still has it today. Bought this car sometime in the mid eighties. Still has it today. Gotta loved an enthusiast

Like that that buys a car ’cause he loves it and keeps it, even when they become real valuable and doesn’t sell it. So follow me as I go to my next walk to barn find location. Let’s go. (upbeat music) Walking around town looking for old cars, exhausting, especially when you got hills involved.

But there’s a car here that I think you guys are gonna want to see. Hey Chris. – [Chris] Hey, good morning. – Oh, I don’t wanna interrupt your gardening here. – [Chris] It’s okay. Morning, beautiful day – It is a beautiful day, yep. This is Chris and he lives in this house

And he can actually see my house from his house. But I came by here once and there was a stingray parked right up in front there. And then it disappeared. And then last year I came by and the door was open and there it was. – Yeah, I’ve had it a long time.

– All right, well I would love to see it and these guys wanna see it too. – [Chris] Yeah, it’s still here. – [Tom] I bet not a lot of people know you have this thing, huh? – [Chris] Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve had it out and about. – [Tom] Yep.

When have you, when was the last time you drove it? – [Chris] A couple of years ago. – [Tom] So what year is it? – [Chris] It’s a ’65. It’s got a manual gear box. – [Tom] Yep. – [Chris] Four speed, 327. – [Tom] And how long have you had it?

– [Chris] I’ve had it since 1990. – [Tom] 32 years. – Yep. – So what inspired you to buy a Corvette? – My friend’s got a nice ’71 Camaro with a big block in it. And I want to have something that would compete with him. Right? – [Tom] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

– And there’s not much that can, so I said, well, I’m gonna look at Corvette’s and I was looking for 68 to 72. – [Tom] Yep. – This is before the internet and all that. I got one of the Corvette magazines or whatever and got a flyer from Pro team

– Pro team, I remember Pro team, yeah. – Yeah, they’re still around. – They’re in Ohio, Napoleon, Ohio. – Napoleon, Ohio. – Yeah. – [Chris] So they had a listing of all kinds, this is like a Corvette supermarket, right. And I said, oh, this is great.

You know, I can go to one place, I’m not gonna have to go all over, right. The funny thing is, is that- – So you flew out there with a one way ticket not having purchased the car yet. – That’s right. – Wow.

– They had a flyer and there was like multiple cars that I was interested in. – [Tom] Yeah. – And I called him up, I said, do you have this car? They said, yeah, everything we have on the thing is in stock. Do you have this car?

So I quit, the guy was getting agitated about me asking if he had it in stock, so I quit asking. Right? – Yeah. – So we get out there and the one that I really was interested in- – Was outta stock. – Was in transit. – Geez.

– So we get looking at all these cars and there was one, it was a 68 T Top 427, not matching numbers. So I was crawling all under it and I saw a piece of chain around the motor mount and I said, well, that looks hokey or whatever.

And I said, all right, onto the next one, right? – [Tom] Yeah. – [Chris] The day is getting old and it’s like, it’s time to either buy a ticket or buy a car. Right? – [Tom] No. – And so then I was looking at like a ’62, but it was a mismatch.

And the guy says, why are you looking at that car? I said, well, you know, I’m starting to open my mind. Right? – Yeah. – He said, well, if you’re interested in a different year, you should look at this one. – [Tom] This one. – Got it. Yeah.

– And you bought it and you. – Bought it and off we drove home. – And it drove home fine. – Yep. – [Tom] So is this the numbers matching? – [Chris] Yep. – [Tom] It is. Really? – Yep, so my ignorance of the, oh back to the 427.

So a guy was helping me out with a mechanical work on this and he, I told him the whole story. He says, oh, that was a factory recall in ’68 ’cause the 427s were breaking motor mounts. – So they chained it. – And so they would put a chain on there

And I’m like, well sometimes ignorance pays off because this is, you know, I didn’t think I could afford this car or whatever. – So you’re friend with the Camaro, was he impressed with your one upmanship or no? – Well I think that car is actually rarer than this.

When we were looking at this, I mean they made a bunch of these, you know. – Yeah. Okay. – And his car is into the, I don’t know, couple of thousands production or something like that, when we I mean this goes- – [Tom] Fortune Camaro, that’s a rare one, yeah. – Yeah.

– [Tom] So 327, you know who knows how many horsepower, they made 340, 370, 90? – [Chris] Yeah, it’s probably around 300. – [Tom] Yeah. Okay. So kind of a lower performance, but a great car. – Yep. – [Tom] So how many miles do you think you’ve driven in 32 years?

– [Chris] On this, I don’t know. Probably less than 10 thou or 10,000 maybe. – Yeah, okay, okay and it was a good driving car. – Yeah. – And it would still be a good driving car? I mean- – Yeah. – Nothing’s changed. – No.

– You didn’t park it ’cause it broke something? – No. – So it’s got the knockoff optional- – [Chris] Yeah. – Fin wheels here and I can’t tell if they’re, you know- – [Chris] No, those, I put those on and- – Oh, you did? – Like the next year I got it.

– Okay, so these are the repos. – Yeah. – [Tom] Yeah. Not that it matters to me, I don’t care. But these, these were aa style of wheel that, you know, there was a a five bolt wheel you could bolt that came with it, like a rally rim.

But this was an optional knockoff rim. And I guess these are the reproductions of ’em. You know, we’ve seen cars around Boothbay and they’re mostly foreign cars, you know, mostly MGs, Triumphs, things like that. This is an unusual car and I’m really happy I met you

Because you know, too many of my people watch this programs. Oh, how come you’ll, you know, always go after those foreign cars. I don’t go after anything. I just opened the door and whatever’s there is- – Right. – The story, you know.

But this has got a neat story and you’re a neat guy. And I hope that, yeah, you start having fun with it again. Will, sir, thanks for meeting us this morning. Go back to your watering and I’ll stop back in a couple years and see if you’ve made any progress.

– Okay. – All right. – If I get it going, I’ll swing by. – Thank you Chris. – Or when I get it going. – Happy hunting.