Thursday 4 July 2013
Lotus Elan is the name of two convertible cars and one fixed head coupé produced by Lotus Cars. The original Type 26, 26R Racing version (of the S1 Elan), 36R Racing version (of the S2 Elan), 36 Fixed Head Coupe, 45 Drop Head Coupe, and the "Type 50" +2 Coupe, circa 1962 to 1975, are commonly known as the '60s Elans. The Type M100 from 1989 to 1995, is also commonly known as the 1990s Elan.
The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version in 1965. The two-seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite.
It was the first Lotus road car to use the now-famous steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1,500 lb (680 kg), the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. The Elan was technologically advanced with a twin-cam 1558 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, and 4-wheel independent suspension. The Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine was based on Ford's Pre-Cross-flow 4-cylinder 1500 cc engine, with a Lotus-inspired Cosworth alloy twin-cam head. This Lotus-Ford 4-cylinder engine would go on to be used in a number of Lotus production and racing models.
An Elan +2 was introduced in 1967 with a longer wheelbase and two more rear seats. The Elan +2 embodied the Lotus spirit: It was a fast and agile sport coupe, with very elegant lines. It combined the performance and reliability of the Elan "Coupe" with genuine 2+2 passenger comfort. Tested maximum power: 108-126 bhp (net) (depending on the model); top speed: 120 mph (190 km/h), 0–60 mph in 7.9 seconds, 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made: fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain in the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.
The Elan ceased production in 1973 and the Elan +2 in 1975. An estimated total of 17,000 original Elans and Elans +2 were built. Because of its successful design and technological sophistication, the Elan went on to become Lotus' first commercial success, reviving a company stretched thin by the more exotic and less commercially successful Elite, and enabling funding of the Lotus success in racing over the next ten years.
This generation of the two-seater Elan was famously driven by the character Emma Peel on the British television series The Avengers. In 2004, Sports Car International named the Elan number six on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s. The original version of the car was designed by Ron Hickman, who also designed the first Lotus Europa as part of Lotus' GT40 project bid and made his fortune having designed the Black & Decker Workmate.
The original Elan is usually credited as being the design inspiration for the highly successful 1989 Mazda MX-5 (Mazda Miata in North America). Two Elans were intimately evaluated by Mazda in the process of designing the MX-5.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1558 cc
- horsepower: 126 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 167 km/h