|Engine||In-line 4-cylinders, 1558cc|
Arguably one of the most significant models in the long history of Lotus, the original Type 26 Elan of 1962 was an uncompromising sports car whose spirit lives on in the current generation of Lotus road cars. Built on a sturdy steel backbone chassis with competition derived suspension, a Triumph steering rack and Girling disc brakes all round, the Elan was endowed with terrific handling and roadholding. The lightweight body was made from fibreglass, while under the bonnet a Ford-derived twin-cam engine gave the Elan tremendous performance. Launched as a roadster with minimal creature comforts, the Elan was sold both in kit form or fully built and was constantly improved, becoming the S2 in 1964 before a Series 3 version was launched at the London Motor Show in September 1965, with two new Type Numbers - the 36 (Fixed Head Coupe) and the 45 (Drophead), which appeared some nine months later. Heralded as the most civilized Elan yet, the S3 was more refined and better equipped and - as the name suggests - even had decent weather protection, with door window frames and a proper hood. The S3 continued to employ the rugged Ford-derived twin-cam motor, developing 105bhp (118bhp was available from the SE model) with twin Weber 40DCOE carburettors and a four-speed gearbox. Lotus updated the Elan again in 1968, the Series 4 model incorporating new switchgear, larger wheels and tyres (necessitating enlarged wheelarches), electric windscreen washer and two speed wipers. Under the bonnet a new cylinder head with Stromberg carburettors was used in some markets and twin circuit brakes adopted for US market cars. British magazine The Autocar summed up their 1967 road test by saying “There can be few faster ways of A-B motoring than in a Lotus Elan and we found there are even fewer ways in which we can enjoy ourselves so much in the process” while Classic & Sportscar rated the Elan as the “best sports car ever” in their July 2012 issue.