Lotus Elan – The Lightness Was Built In

One of the better performing sports cars of the 1960s is the Lotus Elan that was made from 1962 to 1973.  It was the replacement car for the stylish Lotus Elite.  The Lotus Elan was made in four versions – S1, S2, S3, and S4.  In the Lotus model number world these were known as the Type 26, Type 36, and the Type 45.

Lotus Elan 1969 (4)

1969 Lotus Elan S4

The Lotus approach to the Elan was similar to its other cars – provide good power in a light car.  Over the years, the Lotus Elan had engines that produced about 100 to 120 horsepower in cars that weighed 1,250 to 1,550 pounds.  Other British sports cars of that era, the Triumph TR4 and the MGB had similar horsepower ratings but were bigger and weighed (Triumph TRA – 2,000 pounds and MGB – 1,920 pounds) considerably more.

Lotus Elan 1969 (6)

The Mini-Lite Wheels Are An After-Market Addition

The Lotus Type 26 initially was assigned to the Lotus Elan S1.  The S1 was only available as a roadster with approximately 848 cars being built between 1962 and 1964.  The Lotus Elan S2 drop head coupe was introduced in November 1964 had only slight improvements over the Elan S1.  The S2 production ended in 1966.

The Type 36 (or S3) was a fixed head coupe that was available from 1965 – 1968, when Lotus built about 1,200 of these cars.  The Lotus Type 45 model designation referred to both the S3 drop-head coupe and the S4 drop-head coupe.   Approximately 1,450 S3 drop head coupes were built between 1965 and 1968.  The later S4 drop head coupe was produced between 1968 and 1973 with about 2,400 cars being built.

Lotus Elan 1969 (8)

The Retractable Headlights Were An Aerodynamic Feature Of The Lotus Elan

When the Lotus Elan first came out there were some comments in the automotive world about the quality of the fit and finish of the glass reinforced plastic body.  Some of that was true, but all of the early Lotus cars seem to have an aura of a hastily built garage car.  To a certain extent that can still be seen in the Elan.

Lotus Elan 1969 (1)

The Green Color With The Yellow “Skunk” Stripe Looks Great On The Lotus Elan

The Lotus Elan is a very good performing car.  The car would accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 7.5 seconds with a top speed of about 112 miles per hour.

Lotus Elan 1969 (2)

The Lotus Elan’s Dual Overhead Camshaft 1,558cc Engine

The base four-cylinder engine in the Lotus Elans over the years was a 1,558cc dual overhead camshaft engine that produced 105 horsepower.  Lotus did offer an optional “Special Equipment” with the same displacement but with an increased output of 115 – 118 horsepower.

Lotus Elan 1969 (5)

The Dash Is Very Simple and Function, Plus It Looks Great

The Lotus Elan was a commercial success for Lotus with a long production life and significant sales volumes.  The car was known for its spirited performance, disk brakes, and good handling characteristics.

For comparison purposes, in 1966 a TR4A roadster sold for about $2,840, Porsche 911 sold for $6,490, while the Lotus Elan sold for about $4,200.  Well priced at that time I would say.

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