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Lotus Elan

Lotus Elan Published: 10th Jul 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Lotus Elan
Lotus Elan
Lotus Elan
Lotus Elan
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Almost 60 years on, the Elan remains the blueprint for the modern sports car – you only have to look at the world’s best selling Mazda MX-5 to confirm that. As desirable as ever and, thanks to half a century of development and experience, Elans are now a far more durable design than when contemporary and are fast appreciating for the best examples.

Driving

Like the Seven, the Elan was the first sports car that demanded to be driven with fingertips and set new standards for handling although, like all thoroughbreds, they need watching a bit in the wet. But what makes the Lotus Elan entertaining is not just its Veracity or even its great handling (if not ultimate roadholding on skinny Cortina-sized tyres), but rather its light weight and compact dimensions, both of which ensure there’s much more ‘road room’ and agility to play with, in safety.

B-roads show up car best as, later five-speed versions apart, they can be fussy on motorways.

Values

Elans are continuing to prosper and the 100K model isn’t very far away – witness the very average ex-Peter Sellers car selling for some £60,000 at auction a few years back – reckon Lotus experts. Earliest cars command a premium due to their FIA racing eligibility.

Big Valve engined Sprints are worth the most and £50-£60K for top examples is common with decent cars for half this. Fairly tidy Plus 2s can be found for £25,000. Projects need careful budgeting as Elans can cost an exorbitant amount to bring back to life properly and in many cases it is better to buy the best you can run to than resurrect a basket case. Elans also greatly vary on the road and you need to drive a few (or trust a good specialist) to set a working datum.

Timeline

1962 Launched, initially with 1.5-litre engine, subsequently upgraded to 1558cc

1964 S2 appears with better brakes and plusher interior

1965 Series 3 coupé has standard electric windows and a closer ratio gearbox was also made available. Other tweaks included a longer boot lid (to cure leaks)

1966 Special Equipment model became available, with 115bhp, close-ratio gearbox and servo-assisted brakes. Series 3 convertible appeared in June

1967 Larger, plusher Plus 2 coupé goes on sale

1968 S4 hits the streets with a claimed 50 improvements; Plus 2S added to range


1971 Elan Sprint and Plus 2S (130) has 126bhp engine and five-speed option for the latter

1973 VAT kills Elan off but Plus 2S survives for 1974

Best models

Elan

Dropheads the most desired, S4 the least due to Stromberg carbs although their foibles are now mostly history. Sprints the fastest; five speeds optional

Plus 2

Worth considerably less but thanks to bigger chassis is the better handler and much more luxurious, especially 130/5. Some unofficial convertibles also made

Spyder

Spyder Cars first developed a superior space-frame chassis and latterly updated Elans with Mondeo engines and Sierra running gear. Works well

Top five faults

Chassis

Fragile; even kerbing can distort it so scrutinise plus rot like mad (areas to check are the front suspension pick-up points) but replacements are available (including stiffer 26R type) and were galvanised after 1979. A refit costs up to £10,000 by a specialist BODY Look for crafty quick resprays to hide cobweb cracking and poor past repairs. Panels and shells available however

Engine

Technology is now far better than when newe, and a rebuilt engine will now soldier on for 140,000 miles. Check water pump and timing chains for wear and they do leak and drink oil plus exhaust manifold split

Suspension

The chassis isn’t the only thing to suffer after a kerbing; the wishbones can bend, too. The giveaway is dodgy handling but get underneath and see if there are any kinks in the metal. If the car tries to steer itself it’s because the wishbone bushes have worn

Running gear

If car still uses Rotoflex there’s a chance that the couplings will have started to break up. Modern alternatives may already have been fitted

 



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