Sports Car International’s “Top Sports Cars of the 1960’s” saw the Lotus Elan sit rather comfortably in 6th place, placed above cars such as the Ferrari 250 SWB, and the Porsche 356C - quite an impressive title to behold given the prestige of the vehicles it was placed up against!
The Elan was one of Lotus’s first cars to use an all steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body shell sat overtop, a construction style which Lotus latched on to firmly for the next 3 decades - the goal was simple for Lotus, keep it as light as possible and stick to Colin Chapman's famous design summary - “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”. And they did. Weighing in at approximately 680kg, the Elan is less than half of your modern saloon car. Propelled by a DOHC 1558cc engine, and equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering and independent suspension, it was rather technologically advanced for its era. Even the designer of the Mclaren F1, Gordon Murray, praised the little Elan, stating that his only disappointment with the Mclaren F1 was that he could not give it the perfect steering of the Lotus. A tremendous car which received tremendous praise, and out-classed it's much more expensive rivals of the time.
The current owner managed to get his hands on this lovely Elan roughly 4 years ago, after selling his beloved E-Type jaguar through the North Yorkshire based auction called Bangers and Cash. Shortly after the sale of his Jaguar, the little Elan came up for sale through the same auction house who the current owner is good acquaintances with and managed to purchase it before anyone else could - a great replacement for such a prestigious car, and one that has kept the current owner grinning from ear to ear ever since.
Believed to be previously owned by an older gentleman who seemed to be a Lotus enthusiast based off of the North Yorkshire Lotus Owners Club plaque in the glove compartment, it is assured that it has been well taken care of as enthusiasts usually always do - their vehicles are an extension of themselves and they are treated as such with no regard to cost.
Paperwork available with this Lotus include the original owners manual - which is a little worse for wear however it is still present with the vehicle, as well as the V5C showing the registration of the car ready to be transferred to the new owner. There is also a plethora of receipts and invoices for any work carried out on the vehicle such as repairs, MOT’s, services etc. A well documented lifetime this little Lotus has had - and it’s almost guaranteed that it’s been a fun one, too!
Small, but excellently driver focused. The interior of this Lotus Elan is a beautiful place to be, thanks to the comfortable seating position, the lavish wooden dashboard panel and the engraved steering wheel which features Colin Chapman’s signature embedded into the middle spoke of the wheel. The stitched leather steering wheel is still in good condition showing moderate signs of usage, however there are no tears or rips. The wooden dash panel looks to be excellently kept as are the gauge clusters - it should be noted that the speedometer does not work, we’re told a cable is broken and it should not be a difficult fix. The rest of the gauges are in full working order however.
The screen printed text is all still visible throughout the dashboard and the buttons and switches all still work as they should - including the power windows! The radio is all still original and well presented. The gear stick is made of the same wood as the dash panel and presents a Lotus badge positioned top and centre for both the driver and passenger to see. Boh door cards are in presentable condition with only some minor sagging apparent in the perforated leather section - all stitching appears to be intact throughout and the handles still function as they should.
Being a Lotus - there aren’t many creature comforts, but that’s not what these cars were about. Lightweight, driver-focused fun was the aim of the game and this little car delivers to its full potential. The leather bucket seats hug you and conform to your waist in those tight backroad twisties. There are some signs of wear on the driver’s seat, stitching has come loose and there is a minor tear on the back portion however this does not affect the functionality of the seat itself. Carpets are present in the vehicle with the drivers side one being quite worn through on the once rubberised portion - new carpets can be sourced from specialist companies.
Being a DHC (Drophead Coupe) model, the detachable roof can be found in the vehicle's trunk - we’re told that this is in good condition with no leaks or rips and can be easily installed back onto the vehicle at any time suitable. The leather shelf behind the front seats is in lovely condition too with no signs of any tears or damage.
Finished in beautiful Bahama Yellow, this Elan stands out from a crowd regardless of its petite size. Thanks to the car sporting a lightweight fibreglass shell, there is absolutely no concern for corrosion on the shell itself, so the arches front and rear are pristine and will continue to stay that way. There are some small blemishes on the front bumper of the Elan both on the silver portion as well as the lower half of the front bumper, such as stone chips and scuffs which can be seen in the photographs. These are very easily fixed however and the fibreglass body shows no signs of any cracks or damage which is very desirable.
The Elan sits on its original wheels which are all in very presentable condition, all painted silver with chrome centre caps and show no signs of any damage or curb rash - which is a testament to how well cared for the car has been and shows great care has been taken any time the car has been taken out on the road.
Noticed along the side of the car are the black badges fitted by Lotus - these black badges only seem to be apparent on a very small number of Elans from a certain year, and the reason why still eludes people to this day as Colin Chapman took the explanation of the black badges to his grave. There are theories as to why these cars sported black badges which are whispered around the owners forums, and one that stands out the most against others is that it is to commemorate the death of Lotus’s race car driver Jim Clark, who unfortunately passed in a crash at Hockenheim in April of 1968.
This little Elan is an absolute wonder. It fires up no problem at the turn of the key, letting off a smooth and deep growl through the exhaust system - there’s just something about classic 4 cylinder cars that sound so much better than they do today. The original 1558cc engine, producing 105bhp, propels the lightweight sports car - this might not sound like it would put a smile on your face, but given that the car only weighs around 700kg, that comes close to 150bhp per tonne! Thanks to the car's very close gearbox ratios, the car sprints surprisingly quickly through the gears, pinning you to the back of the seat upon the release of each new gear change.
What a surprise this car is in the bends too - thanks to the car’s technologically advanced independent suspension, it handles like an absolute dream. Very minimal body roll is ever apparent and the suspension is actually very forgiving over bumps and dips in the road, making this Elan a very drivable car from day-to-day! The perfect summer car. It’s easy to see why this car got the amount of praise that it did.
No unwelcome knocks or bangs are apparent while driving along in the car, and no creaks at low speeds. The only thing you’ll be wanting to listen to is the glorious soundtrack of that 4 cylinder burbling away as you enjoy yourself on some wonderful backroads.
This car is the embodiment of Colin Chapman’s design criteria and the absolute benchmark of car handling. Such astounding performance from such a small car out-rivalled those worth 10x its price tag, a staple of Lotus history this car has become and that way it shall remain.
After all - who wouldn’t want to own a car worthy of such praise from some of the best car designers in the world?
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