If PENSON’s founder and CEO Lee wasn’t already busy enough, he has recently fully restored a beautiful and rare Lotus Elan 26r race car and enlisted a stellar team to take the car for a spin at Belgium’s famous Spa Francorchamps circuit on the 28th and 29th of September. Teammates Lee Penson, Sir Chris Hoy and Cameron Jackson will be sharing the driving seat for the six-hour motor race.
Not content with leading the PENSON team and designing spaces for the largest global brands, Lee has painstakingly restored the 43-year old car to its former glory over a two-year period. This is not only very cool but it’s vitally important in terms of the history of motorcars and the Lotus Car brand.
Lee will be swapping the PENSON studio for a weekend of stealth on the Spa track at the annual race. The team will be raising awareness of charities close to their heart, including: Cancer Research UK, Pilgrims Hospices, UNICEF UK and Unseen UK.
The driving team’s selected charities will make an appearance on the body of the car itself, which aims to raise awareness of the incredible work they do. The racing team have received some great praise from the charities in support of the race:
Mike Penrose, Executive Director of Unicef UK, said: “We are incredibly excited to see Unicef UK Ambassador Sir Chris Hoy taking part in the historic Spa 6 Hours, taking his skills from the saddle to the beautiful 1962 Lotus Elan racing car. A winner on two wheels, we have no doubt that he will be a winner on four.
“We are delighted Sir Chris Hoy will be raising money for Unicef UK. The money he raises will make a massive difference to the lives of children across the globe ensuring they live happy, healthy and safe lives. Best of luck to Chris!”
Hannah Young, Head of Fundraising at Unseen UK, said: “Unseen is absolutely thrilled to be Cameron’s chosen charity at the Spa Six Hours race. Cameron is an avid supporter of Unseen, raising awareness of the plight of millions of people who are trapped in modern slavery right now across the globe. We thank everyone at the Spa Six Hours race for shining a light on this issue and for joining Unseen’s movement to put an end to modern slavery, for good”.
Racing enthusiast Sir Chris Hoy got to hear about the Elan and wanted in on the action. Chris and Lee were introduced in 2017, and once the Lotus Elan was acquired by Lee shortly after, Lee explained his intention to create a special car with a special heritage story. It took Chris Hoy roughly 5 minutes to respond to an email suggesting the idea of racing the Elan at the Spa Six Hours race, and Chris’s excitement increases more as the event nears.
Cameron Jackson is currently the clear leader of the Historic Formula Ford championship. What with five clear consecutive wins, he is also a vibrant historic car owner and driver whose pace is hard to match or equal. Both Lee and Cameron love originality in special cars, both love all things design and deal in property development.
A Lifelong Passion
Lee has had a lifelong association with Lotus Cars. It all started at a young age when he was ferried to and from school in his mum’s original Lotus 7 car – whatever the weather – rain, sun or snow! His late father loved Lotus Cars too, so the race will also be in a loving dedication to both him and to his late uncle.
Spa Six Hours Race
The Spa Six Hours race festival is a whole weekend of spectacular classic motor racing at the famous Spa Francorchamps circuit where Formula 1 racing has been held since the 50s. There will be approx 650 historic racing cars for the annual meeting of clubs and enthusiasts this weekend. The race is an endurance test for the drivers with six hours non-stop racing, as the name suggests.
The Car Restoration
The Elan restoration process was much like the project process here at PENSON – take an exciting project, consult with the team, develop ideas, choose the right elements, functions and test how it’s going to look – then get stuck in to ensure the vision becomes a reality.
The colour of the car was essential; the paint is an original cellulose paint which is now rarely used. Being the design fiend Lee is, he ensured the colour was a one-off mix called ‘Poppy Blue’, named after his daughter Poppy.
Originally, the car was bought and used in the midlands in 1962. It then passed through just two owners – covering only 13,762 miles from new – until it sat in a garage for around 43 years. The car was purchased by the UK’s largest private Lotus Car collector, but after much persuasion, agreed to let Lee have the car in 2017. Since then the car has been nurtured and restored through efforts such as ‘strip down’, which utilises as many original components as possible to create a highly collectible race car.
Every part of the car is authentic or as near to as possible – right down to sourcing a suitable font for the decals – all from the same era as the Elan. The car has been meticulously modified as an Elan would have been in the 60’s. Lee used the original ‘bourne body’ which has been shaved and modified from 91kg to approx 52kg. The car has its original steering wheel, gear knob, rear view mirror, engine and gearbox, amongst other sublime details.
In short, the car is a normal S1 Elan, but the speciality comes from its restoration and its chassis 153, which is believed to be the 7th oldest remaining in the world.
Lee Penson said “This is a very special car and we’ve rescued it from a barn after it being sat for 43 years rotting. We’ve turned it into a superb rare, and very original top spec race car. Taking the car straight to Spa Historic Six Hours was a must. I can’t wait to see the car being driven after 43 years with Chris Hoy at the helm. It’s great we can use the event to raise awareness of the charities close to my heart too.”
The race day will be long but loads of fun. Lee will be supported on the day by family and friends, as well as the wider PENSON team supporting from the UK. PENSON would like to wish our CEO the best of luck and we hope to add another trophy to the PENSON wall of fame!
With special thanks to historic car restorer Neil Myers.
Follow the race day on all social media with the handles:
Photography by Lee Penson and Amy Shore