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Lotus Elan (1962-1973) review

The Lotus Elan is a classic sports car produced by Lotus Cars from 1962 to 1973. Here are some of its key features and highlights:

  • The Elan was designed by Lotus founder Colin Chapman and was known for its exceptional handling and nimble performance. The car featured a lightweight fiberglass body and a simple yet efficient mechanical design.
  • The Elan was powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which produced between 105 and 126 horsepower depending on the model. The engine was paired with a four-speed manual transmission.
  • The Elan’s suspension system used Chapman’s patented “Chapman Strut” design, which combined a lower wishbone with an upper transverse link to provide precise handling and a smooth ride. The car also featured disc brakes all around, which were a rarity in the 1960s.
  • The Elan was available in several different body styles, including a two-seat coupe, a two-seat convertible, and a four-seat coupe. The most popular variant was the two-seat convertible, which featured a folding soft top and was often used in motorsport.
  • The Elan was highly successful in racing, winning numerous championships and races throughout the 1960s. The car’s light weight, excellent handling, and responsive engine made it a favorite among drivers and enthusiasts alike.
  • The Elan’s success in motorsport helped to establish Lotus as a major player in the sports car world, and the car’s influence can still be seen in modern Lotus models today.
  • Today, the Elan is highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts, and examples in excellent condition can command high prices at auction. The car’s classic design, exceptional handling, and important place in automotive history make it a beloved classic sports car.

Here are some additional points of interest about the Lotus Elan:

  • The Lotus Elan was known for its beautiful and aerodynamic design, with a low, sleek profile and curved lines that still look stylish today. The car was also one of the first sports cars to feature pop-up headlights, which became a popular design feature in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The Elan was considered a breakthrough in sports car design because of its light weight and efficient handling. The car’s curb weight was just 1,500 pounds, which made it very quick and agile. The Elan’s suspension system was also innovative, with a four-wheel independent design that provided excellent handling and a smooth ride.
  • The Lotus Elan was featured in several popular films and television shows, including the British TV series “The Avengers” and the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” In “The Spy Who Loved Me,” Bond drives a Lotus Esprit, but the film’s producers reportedly considered using an Elan instead.
  • The Elan was produced in several different variants, including the Series 1, Series 2, Series 3, and Series 4. Each version had its own unique features and improvements, but all were known for their excellent handling and performance.
  • Lotus also produced a special version of the Elan called the Elan Sprint, which featured a more powerful engine and several other upgrades. The Elan Sprint was considered one of the best versions of the car, and is highly sought after by collectors today.
  • The Lotus Elan has been praised by many automotive journalists and enthusiasts over the years. In a 1963 review, Car and Driver magazine called the Elan “a triumph of automotive design” and “one of the best cars we’ve ever driven.” Today, the Elan is still regarded as one of the best sports cars of its era, and has a dedicated following of enthusiasts and collectors around the world.

Here are a few more interesting facts and tidbits about the Lotus Elan:

  • The Elan was designed by Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, who was known for his innovative and unconventional approach to automotive design. Chapman was also a successful race car driver and engineer, and his designs were heavily influenced by his experiences on the track.
  • The Elan was originally intended to be a replacement for the Lotus Elite, which was another highly regarded sports car produced by Lotus in the 1950s and 1960s. However, the Elite was more expensive to produce than Chapman had anticipated, so he decided to create a new car that would be less expensive and easier to build.
  • The Elan’s engine was a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder unit that was based on the engine used in the Ford Cortina. Lotus modified the engine extensively, adding dual overhead camshafts, larger valves, and a high-performance intake and exhaust system. The result was an engine that produced up to 126 horsepower, which was a lot for a car of the Elan’s size and weight.
  • The Elan’s lightweight design and excellent handling made it a popular choice for racing and rallying in the 1960s and 1970s. The car was successful in a variety of racing events, including the Monte Carlo Rally, the Sebring 12 Hours, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • The Lotus Elan was also sold in the United States, where it was well received by enthusiasts and journalists. Car and Driver magazine called the Elan “one of the great sports cars of all time” and “one of the most entertaining automobiles in the world.”
  • The Elan’s production run ended in 1973, but the car’s influence can still be seen in modern sports cars. The lightweight, agile design of the Elan has inspired many other sports car manufacturers, and the car is still considered a classic and highly desirable collectible today.

Here are a few more interesting facts and tidbits about the Lotus Elan:

  • The Lotus Elan was known for its exceptional handling and balance, which was achieved through its lightweight design and innovative suspension system. The car featured independent suspension at all four corners, with a front wishbone setup and a rear Chapman strut layout. This gave the car excellent handling and stability, particularly in corners.
  • The Elan was also known for its removable top, which was made of fiberglass and could be easily detached and stored in the car’s trunk. This feature made the Elan popular with drivers who enjoyed open-air motoring, and it also contributed to the car’s lightweight design.
  • Despite its reputation for excellent handling, the Lotus Elan was not without its flaws. The car’s fiberglass body was prone to cracking and warping, particularly in hot climates. The engine also had a reputation for being somewhat temperamental, and it required careful tuning and maintenance to perform at its best.
  • In addition to the coupe version of the Elan, which was known as the S2 and S3, Lotus also produced a convertible version of the car, called the Elan Drophead Coupe. This version featured a more traditional convertible top, rather than the removable hardtop used on the coupe.
  • The Lotus Elan was also produced in limited numbers as a race car, with the most famous example being the Lotus Elan 26R. This version of the car featured a lightweight body, a close-ratio gearbox, and a modified engine that produced up to 180 horsepower. The Elan 26R was highly successful in racing, and it won many championships and races throughout the 1960s.
  • The Lotus Elan was also produced under license in other countries, including South Africa, where it was known as the Big Seven. The car was also sold in kit form, which allowed buyers to assemble their own Elan at home.


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