The Classic Lotus Elan Could Average 69MPH Without Exceeding 70MPH

The Classic Lotus Elan Could Average 69MPH Without Exceeding 70MPH

During the 1960’s through to the late seventies sports cars were designed by engineers with one thing in mind, to provide high erformance with good handling & brakes, good looks, and an exciting driving experience with lots of grin factor…read, pure unadulterated driving enjoyment behind the wheel.

Sure, there are some great cars around today that still provide driver
enjoyment, but many cars are being redesigned, and over engineered in
such a way that the old enjoyment factor is being taken out of the
automobile, even some high performance marques have computerised
management systems installed to stop you from getting a little out of shape while cornering, which means you don’t have to apply opposite
lock any more… heaven forbid…where’s the fun in that.

What ever happened to the car control skills learnt by sports drivers in days gone by? And what happened to the comunication between you and your car felt by the sensations you often felt through the seat of

your pants…. now that’s what real driving was once all about.

In the sixties there were many different makes of sports cars on the road, the most common and affordable was the MG, and the square
rigger type TC – TD – & TF and the later MGA & MGB were considered
fun sports cars of the time, they were not particularly fast, but gave the
driver enormous enjoyment along with wind in the hair motoring. There
were also lots of big Austin Healeys…the Bull dog of English sports cars
and ever so popular with the bigger budget drivers. Triumph TR2, 3 & 4s
were also plentiful on the roads, they enjoyed a great following by many
sports car enthusiasts.

If you had a lust for very fast sports cars you would naturally look at
buying a Jaguar E-type, or a Ferrari, Porsche, Morgan Plus 8, etc.

But there was a small sports car designed by a happy go lucky Englishmen with a degree in aeronautical engineering who started designing and building unique, agile little sports cars in his spare time.
It was not long before these little cars were finding success on the racetracks, and they continued to challenge and embarrass the more established marques, racing fraternity people of the day were all-aghast and wanted to know the name of the builder of these funny little racecars called Lotus.

As the years went by, the Lotus name become synonymous with numerous World Championship F1 victories on many of the world’s great race circuits. Such was Colin Chapman’s Design Genius and uncanny knack of selecting great drivers such as the late Jim Clark who drove the Lotus cars to a number of F1 victories.

The magnificent Lotus Élan was first revealed during the early 1960’s Earls Court motor show in London, it caused an absolute sensation among sports car enthusiasts. The design of this wonderful little sports car featured a very sophisticated all independent wishbone coil over suspension front & rear, with four-wheel disc brakes fitted all round.

The engine was based on a free revving high torque four cylinder Ford power plant fitted with a special Lotus designed twin overhead camshaft alloy cylinder head, the engine breathed through twin 40mm weber carburettors, and was coupled to a close ratio four-speed gearbox.The engine delivered about 125BHP in big valve tune.

But unfortunately the élan had a weak spot in the drive line, the drive shafts were fitted with rubber donut couplings, as the couplings aged they became weak and unreliable, it was not unusual for an élan to break a donut while on a trip somewhere.

The élan weighed about 745KG, thanks to its lightweight sheet metal backbone chassis and lightweight fibreglass body, these little cars could zoom from 0 to 100 kph in less than eight seconds, and that was forty years ago, and even today, a well-tuned élan is much quicker than that! That’s not bad for a sports car over forty years old.

Many a modern day driver has found that the performance of a well maintained élan is more than a match for the popular hot hatches driven today and promoted as sports cars, few cars can match the Lotus élan for agility and handling on twisty mountain roads. It was often said that the élan handled like it was on rails, which meant, they went where they were pointed.

The next time you are tooling down an alpine road in your hot hatch, keep your eyes on the rear vision mirror, because a hot classic lotus élan could arrive on your tail any minute, don’t bother to try and keep up with the élan, just enjoy the sight and the delightful aural sound of a well-tuned twin cam engine fitted with twin 40mm Weber carburettors as the elan howls past on a short mountain road straight.

Today, lotus élans are much sought after by collectors of fine thorough- bred sports cars, if you ever see one for sale, grab it if you can. The Lotus élan was frequently quoted in marketing press releases in England as the kind of car “where you could average 69MPH with out exceeding 70MPH”, and that about sums up what the Lotus élan is about.