Lotus Elan (1962 – 1973) Review

Lotus Elan (1962 – 1973) At A Glance


+Phenomenal dynamics, brilliant steering, excellent performance

-Cramped and flimsy, flaky electrics and variable build quality

The Lotus Elan was a brilliant sports car that redefined sports car dynamics and performance, when it was launched in 1962. And against all probability, it improved on the outgoing Elite - a car that came close to perfection. It was a lightweight sports car against whose handling all other would be measured for decades.

The all-independent suspension on a backbone chassis was the stuff of genius, and makes the indifferent fit and finish of the glassfibre bodies almost irrelevant. Gradually improved through four series, each of which outsold the last: S2 gained larger front brake calipers; S3 (from 1966) has frames for the windows, centre lock alloy wheels and a higher final drive ratio; S4 got a bonnet bulge to cover its twin Stromberg carbs, but reverted to Webers in late 1969. SE means 115bhp and close-ratio ‘box.

The Series 3 Fixed Head Coupe arrived the year before its soft-top brother. In line with Lotus’s intention to move upmarket and justify higer prices, fit and finish was improved over the earlier Elans, and the Coupé came with a smarter dashboard and frames for the door windows to greatly reduce wind noise. The windows themselves were now electrically operated. That upmarket move was continued with the +2 and Sprint versions.

Ask Honest John

Where can I sell a classic Lotus Elan in need of restoration?

"I have a very early 1967 Lotus Elan +2 that I bought in 1979, Chassis Number 50/0111. In 1984 I did a major renovation/restoration, fitting a new galvanised chassis etc, but got married in 1986 and ran out of time, money and inclination to work on the car. It was then put, under cover, across the back of the garage where it has remained, neglected for the past 25 years to be my retirement project. I am now partially retired, working just two days a week, but find I still don’t have the time, money, inclination or skills now to get the Elan fit and well again. Can you please advise the best way to sell her on to a good home."
www.historics.co.uk - the next auction is at Brooklands on 31 August. The last reader I advised to put a part-restored car through Historics got nearly three times what he thought he would get.
Answered by Honest John

Does the Gordon Keeble beat the Lotus Elan for the most classic cars still registered?

"Chris Knapman's article about older cars facing extinction was most interesting. He quotes your website as stating that the Lotus Elan has top spot for survival with 38 per cent still registered. I'm sure there must be some that can beat that. There is the Gordon Keeble, circa 1963/64, of which 99 cars were built. At its 40th anniversary rally in 1964 there were 75 cars still registered, and most of them were at the event. I'm sure that most, if not all, are still on the road. At that time, with a survival rate of 75 per cent, it must surely still be very near the top of the list. "
This is really one for Keith Adams who was responsible for compiling the data for our Classic Car section, so I have forwarded it to him. The Giugiaro designed Gordon Keeble is briefly featured in this entry: http://classics.honestjohn.co.uk/search?q=Gordon%20Keeble&type=classicModel. Maybe it did not feature because the original production was so small.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Lotus Elan (1962 – 1973) cost?