Parsimonious Provenance: 1972 Elite Enterprises Laser

(by PhiLOL) Designed by Americans for Americans in the nation’s epicenter for automotive design, Minnesota, the Elite Enterprises Laser served as a continuation of the venerable Porsche 917. It maintained the aesthetics of the Porsche racer while incorporating considerably improved engineering, such as the elimination of excess cylinders to reduce weight. This particular example’s provenance is highlighted by its former ownership by Steve Queen, the highly esteemed catering services worker on the set of the 1971 film Le Mans. (This 1972 Elite Enterprises Laser recently listed for $17,995 at a small used car lot in St. Louis, Missouri, and has since sold).

While many of Porsche’s finest racing cars are powered by Hans Mezger engines, the Laser’s engine was designed by the legendary Dr. Ferdinand Porsche himself. Pushrods made the use of overhead cams unnecessary, and a low displacement allowed the car to meet virtually all FIA displacement limitations. Yet the flat-four engine was potent; reports of at least 60 horsepower have been confirmed.

Eschewing the use of the 917’s environmentally destructive magnesium, titanium, and beryllium, the Laser used mainly steel for its chassis and wood glue for everything else. Its simple construction means a variety of maintenance tasks can be performed using the original tool roll: an eyeglass repair kit. The Laser enjoyed a relatively short production run, but its impact has endured for decades. Here are just some examples of its notoriety:

As with the 917, Porsche factory drivers refused to race the Laser due to safety concerns.

Nevertheless, its racing pedigree was firmly established by carrying at least one team to Watkins Glenndale Community College to compete in a 5k fun run when their Ford Windstar wouldn’t start.

Porsche was famously unsentimental about old 917s and would let firefighters train on them. First responders have continued this tradition when encountering ablaze Lasers by letting them burn to the ground.

Amid an increasingly perfectionist restoration culture that leaves cars more perfect than when they left the factory, this Laser is a true survivor from the 1970s. It wears a patina “common to any other car of its era,” according to Keith Marty, owner of a Sports Car Market magazine collection. Comes with all necessary documentation, including a bill of sale. This example guarantees your entree into driving events such as driving to Goodwood Revival, a revival at Goodwood Baptist Church in the spring.

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.

(For an entirely different take on the Elite Enterprises Laser, click here to visit the intersection of God and cars www.JohnV16.com.)