Wapcar Automotive News – 60 years ago, on Wednesday 17 October 1962 and as the ’60s began to shake, the Lotus Elan (Model 26) was made its public debut at the British Motor Show, at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre.
To put the car into some global automotive scene, Jaguar launched the E-Type last year, and AC has Cobra and Ferrari as GTOs. They are big, powerful muscle cars. The Elan is very different and quintessentially Lotus – ultra-modern, light, fast and fun to drive, with information from Lotus Malaysia.
Add to that Colin and Hazel Chapman’s Lotus business, which is only 10 years old and has won eight F1 Grand Prix races and several at Le Mans. It’s easy to see how the car industry has been turned upside down by this small company based just north of London.
However, the British Motor Show was not the actual debut of Elan. It happened a week ago at the main Ford Motor Company showroom and headquarters at 88 Regent Street. It was attended by VIPs, media and Lotus and Ford executives and was a truly exclusive and private event.
Why was the Elan unveiled at Ford HQ? A letter from Ford’s parts and accessories operations in Romford, Essex to its dealer network further explains, specifically that the Lotus Elan “is powered by a modified Lotus 1500cc 122E Consul Classic engine. [also known as Kent.
Elan also incorporates Ford gearboxes, differentials and carrier assemblies and some small components. Ford ads have been posted in the Daily Mail, Autocar, Motor and Autosport mentioning the “racing winning partnership between Ford and Lotus” and congratulating “Colin Chapman and his design team” on an outstanding achievement that we are proud to associate with the Ford name.” Meanwhile, the weekly auto magazine Autocar also provides an in-depth technical summary and preview of the Elan.
Introduced in 1962 as a roadster (Drop Head), an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupe version (Fixed Head) appeared in 1965. It was the first Lotus road car to use. Steel frame, technology continued until 1995. all Lotus road cars, including the Europa supercar, Excel and Esprit.
The Lotus Elan is technically improved with a mid-frame, fiberglass bodywork, four-wheel disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension. The design was done by Ron Hickman OBE, who designed the Black & Decker WorkMate.
At launch, it weighed 640 kg and produced 100 hp thanks to a 1,499 cc twin cam engine. This displacement was immediately increased to 1,558 cm3 and power increased by 5 hp to 105 hp. All early Elans with 1,499cc engines were upgraded to larger units.
The Elan Sprint, a more powerful 1973 alternative, could hit 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, even now considered relatively fast, but in 1973 it was spectacular. Marrying the car’s low displacement, it’s almost undefeated on country roads.
Reflecting the changing lifestyles of Colin and Hazel, an Elan +2 was introduced in 1967 with two rear seats. These are compact but by no means ordinary, and it is no coincidence that they fit perfectly into the growing Chapman family.
Culturally, it was an icon as the Swinging Sixties adopted a great new design. On TV it was piloted by Diana Rigg in The Avengers, Peter Sellers owned one, giving another to his then-fiancee Britt Ekland. Jimi Hendrix posed on someone else’s hood, and it even inspired the lyrics of The Beatles’ song “A Day In The Life.”
Four different Elan series have been produced since 1973, and +2 ended the following year. With a production run of 17,392 vehicles, the Elan family is one of the most successful families in Lotus history, second only to Elise.
Sixty years after its debut on Regent Street, more than 60 models have been assembled for the Classic Lotus Elan Register (CLER) ‘Picnic at Hethel’. Cars from the beginning of the Series 1 to Elans’ latest, the +2S 130, participated from all over the UK.
This is one of the largest gatherings ever held by Lotus Elans alone and is a friendly, intimate way to honor the legendary sports car that not only changed Lotus but forever changed the sports car market.