1970 Lotus Elan: Exceptional handling

1970 Lotus Elan: Exceptional handling

Engine Inline 4 Horsepower 105 BHP (77.28 KW) @ 5500 RPMTorque 108 Ft-Lbs (146 NM) @ 4000 RPMEngine Location Front Drive Type RWDWeight 1500 lbs | 680.389 kg Transmission 4-step manual

After the unprofitable Elite, the British Lotus brand launched a simpler but more affordable and no less attractive model – Elan. This fiberglass body roadster with a classic layout was way better than rivals – Porsche and Alfa-Romeo in handling.

Source: Classic Driver

The legendary Colin Chapman’s testimony of  “simplify, then add lightness” was perfectly fulfilled in the first Lotus automobiles, such as Elan, created by the company’s founder. After the company’s first roadster, the Elite failure, the brand decided to design a more reliable and cheaper vehicle, the prototype of which was already presented in 1957. In 1962, the new model sent the Elite into history. This was a successful, well-handled sports model, which went on sale as a two-seater convertible. Three years later – in 1965, the model received a coupe version. Interestingly, like Elite, the first automobiles were delivered to customers in disassembled form (kit-car concept). Still, over time, Elan was already sold in a finished version on the condition that the buyer paid the transport tax.

The origins

Source: Car-from-UK

The kit-car Elite, which was very fast and maneuverable but extremely unreliable, was replaced in 1962 by the successful Lotus Elan. The new automobile received a separate frame and a company-assembled engine. A separate simple steel frame had several advantages: they were easy to design, maintain and repair. In addition, the automobile’s engine and the gearbox were installed at the front end of the spinal frame, and the main gear and rear suspension – were at its rear end. This innovative scheme allowed placing the seats lower than usual since the main load-bearing frame element ran along the axis of symmetry of the vehicle. However, the vehicle’s technological breakthrough was the new Lotus engine, which former Coventry Climax employee Harry Mundy developed. The basis of the new unit was the five-bearing crankcase of the Ford Cortina engine with an aluminum block head with two camshafts, which had hemispherical combustion chambers and two valves per cylinder. The company used this engine for ten years. Also, it was used on three other cars – Lotus Cortina Mk 1, Lotus Cortina Mk 2, and Escort Twin-Cam. The second series, S2 (1964-1966), received larger front brakes, oval taillights, a wooden instrument panel, and added wheels with a central nut. The third series (1966-1968) received a coupé version, frames around the side windows, and a different engine with a power of 115 hp in the SE (Special Equipment) package. The fourth series, S4 (1968-1971), was marked by wider fenders, rectangular tail lights, and a revised instrument panel with buttons instead of toggle switches.

The 1970 model year

Source: Source: H&H Classics

This 1978 two-seater vehicle belonged to the S4 series. It had several undeniable advantages, and most importantly, it got rid of several shortcomings, including a cracking fiberglass body and rubber hinges roaming the vehicle at high speeds. In addition, the roadster received exceptional handling. Also, the electrical systems and instruments, including the headlight lifting mechanism, were improved. The 1970 release received reinforced brakes, extended wheel arches for new low-profile tires, a protrusion on the hood, and a modified instrument panel. It was equipped with a naturally-aspirated Inline 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual gearbox. As a sports roadster, almost all automobiles of different model years, including the 1970 release, participated in various sports competitions. The assembly of Elan roadsters and coupes continued until 1973, and the Elan + 2 modification until 1974. In total, 12,224 cars left the assembly line during the production period, and the latest versions of the 70s became one of the most striking Lotus in the company’s history. With its progressive design and refined driving properties, the car was ahead of its time, forcing competitors to equal it. The roadster was replaced by a completely different second-generation model and a new Esprit.

Did you know?

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This outstanding roadster which bore the famous logo on the hood created so many unforgettable screen moments. It appeared in such movies as “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) and “The Persuaders!” (1971-1972 TV series). These appearances helped to raise awareness of the Lotus Elan and showcase its performance and handling capabilities. In addition, the automobile recently appeared in Fifth Gear – a British motoring television show broadcasted.

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1970 Lotus Elan: Exceptional handling

Engine Inline 4 Horsepower 105 BHP (77.28 KW) @ 5500 RPMTorque 108 Ft-Lbs (146 NM) @ 4000 RPMEngine Location Front Drive Type RWDWeight 1500 lbs | 680.389 kg Transmission 4-step manual

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