11 - #263  the Wotus Bwossom



Club #263 at Jay Chamberlain's car lot, July 1957.


The Wotus Bwossom (WB). Photo courtesy of Bob Miller.

Leon Miller & wife, with WB in 1958.  Photo courtesy of Bob Miller.

WB after a shunt at Riverside. Photo courtesy of Al Long.

Don Maslin in WB chases Fred Puhn's "Santee, " DelMar, 1964

WB at Willow Springs, 1968. Photo courtesy of Bob Engberg.


Wotus Bwossom as raced today by Bob Mann.

An otherwise ordinary Club Eleven shipped to Jay Chamberlain in 1957 soon acquired a lasting identity after being purchased new by Leon Miller.  Its name, "Wotus Bwossom" was a play on the connotation of Lotus spoken with an oriental accent.  As it turned out, the name stayed with the car across the USA through more than a half dozen owners over the next forty years, making reconnecting its history a snap.

This was chassis #263, fitted with Climax FWA # 6958 in stage 2 tune.  The car was also fitted with an MG transmission,  and the 4.5 final drive ratio typical of live axle Elevens.  It  was road-tested by Lotus on January 15th,  just a day before being delivered to the docks for shipment.  This car was also fitted with an "Aero" windscreen, allowing the large driver the benefit of an open cockpit.  The specification of a Club model with this rather heavy gearbox was a curious mix, shared with a few others sent to the USA.

Leon Miller was a California photographer who mounted a 16mm camera to the car to film some of his track exploits.  He raced the car from Hawaii to Oregon, and is said to have run competitively against better known LeMans-Elevens active on the West coast. Miller thoroughly enjoyed his years with Wotus Bwossom before serious health problems forced its sale.

The shunt damage seen here occurred at Riverside, leaving Miller with only a cut on the forehead.  As there is no roll bar mounted, this photo must have been taken earlier than the others. Perhaps residual frame damage persuaded the next owner, Don  Maslin, to modify the frame and replace the swing-axle with  a twin- wishbone front suspension, possibly homemade.  The conversion was complete with Alfin front drum brakes from a Fiat.  Maslin also saw the need for cheap replacement bonnets made from fiberglass.  He had a mold made and advertised glass front and rear sections in  SCCA Sportscar magazine, ca 1962.

Bob Engberg purchased the car from Maslin and began his racing career with it in 1968.  Engberg painted the car BRG,  although the photo at left suggests a trace of yellow was left at the nose.   After a few years with Engberg the car went through a period of several owner changes including Alex Quattlebaum and Paul O'Donnell.  By the mid-1980s it had traveled from California to Florida, and was still characterized by the unique wishbone suspension and Alfin brakes.  All owners seem to have been impressed with how well the arrangement  worked, although it has always puzzled onlookers in the paddock.

Today the car still races in Maslin-modified form, with a splash of yellow across the side panels recalling the first guise of the Wotus Bwossom


This is an example of a vehicle entry in the Lotus Eleven Register database.  The story and photos came together in week's time, late in 2000, by interested parties and past owners contacting each other through the internet.  Lotuseleven.org exists to try to assemble information like this from people who care enough to help.  Thanks go to Bob Miller (Leon's son), Don Maslin, Bob Engberg, Ed Licht and Bob Mann.