Lotus Elan

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peterdannock  •  17 Sept 2023   •    

The Lotus Elan was developed as a two-seat roadster with a fibreglass body mounted onto a steel backbone. Designer, Colin Chapman, called this a “Fold on the dotted line” steel chassis. This type of construction strengthened the car’s load-bearing structure to support the engine and suspension components. In addition, the lightweight bodyshell fitted to the rugged steel backbone chassis enhanced overall performance while optimising the car’s handling attributes.

The Lotus Elan is the benchmark for modern sports car design. A “real” sports car doesn’t have to prove the point with massive engine displacement and numerous cylinders. The robust 1558cc in-line 4-cylinder Lotus Twin Cam was reliable if adequately maintained. The Lotus Elan used three different carburetion variations from the factory during its production. 12,224 were built from its inception in 1962 until the final Sprint exited the assembly hall in 1973.

Its spirited performance and exquisite handling attributes maintain its popularity today. The Lotus Elan was far ahead of its time and bristled with technology. It is unsurprising then that the Elan became Lotus Cars’ first commercial success and the inspiration for the Mazda MX-5 in the late 1980s.


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