RE: Lotus Elan S2: Spotted

Tuesday 9th October

Lotus Elan S2: Spotted

Restored by Ken Myers 10 years ago and with only 4k miles since, this Medici Blue S2 already has us in the mood for summer



"I drive my Lotus Elan for pleasure - not because I have to," said world champion, Jim Clark. So the famous poster slogan goes. Clark, then a driver for Colin Chapman's racing team, might be smiling as he sits on the Carmen Red bonnet of 997 NUR in the photo, but it probably wasn't too long before he was grimacing at a his Series 1's next problem. "That never-reliable motor car, the Elan, has broken down again and is at the factory," he wrote in a letter to Team Lotus manager Andrew Ferguson during his custodianship.

No, the Elan has never been celebrated as a marvel of reliable motoring. In its earliest S1 format (like Clark's car), it was notoriously unreliable and perfectly befit of the well-known acronym: lots of trouble, usually serious. Not only that, the Elan's soft-top didn't stand up well to heavy rain - so much so that a fixed head coupe version was produced with a bonded-on hard top to appeal to customers not so keen on water ingress. Running an Elan, even the better developed later generations, required constant TLC.


But it was worth it, because the Elan felt light years ahead of its time. The ingredients were compelling enough. It was built on a seperate steel chassis, used an ultra lightweight fibreglass body and was powered by a twin-cam 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with a syncho'd four-speed manual gearbox. Chapman's company then merged these controls with a tactility that provided its driver with the means for 'pleasurable' - to use Clark's description - driving. Jump in an Elan even today and you'll quickly find that the weighting and responsiveness of the controls are still nigh on perfect.

It's all about feel and communication, of course. The gear lever throw is short and assertive and the throttle instantaneously impactful on engine revs. The brake pedal jostles feedback into your foot while the steering wheel - aside from a small amount of numbness around centre - is brimmed with information. There's no power assistance, but the wheel is light to turn because you're influencing tiny 145-section tyres on 13-inch steel wheels. Grip is therefore not particularly high, but with just 680kg to shift, the rubber is more than up to the job. And with so much feedback on tap, you're always a step ahead of what's happening.


The peak of Elan performance came with the Sprint, of course, and this is reflected in pricing. Sprints on the classifieds regularly cost more than £40,000. Prices for regular Elans can start from just over half that, unless you opt for one of a growing number of fully restored examples. Take the S2 in striking Medici Blue that we've spotted today, for example. This car was stripped and then rebuilt by highly respected Elan specialist Ken Myers 10 years ago, but it has only covered 4,800 miles since, all of which have been in the dry. As such, it looks to be one of the finest examples available, and we don't say that just because of its gorgeous paint job; among its history files are various concours award wins. It's a stunning example, awaiting only a lucky buyer and, we'd venture, the warmer weather of 2019.


LOTUS ELAN S2
Engine:
1,558cc four-cylinder
Transmission: Four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 105@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 108@4,000rpm
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
Year registered: 1965
Recorded miles: 4,800 (after restoration)
Price new: N/A

Click here for the original advert.

Author
Discussion

Kolbenkopp

Original Poster:

1,543 posts

87 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
This is pretty much sports car apotheosis IMO. But for ~ 50k GBP (!) one could build something better starting with more modern tech / safety / usability. Imagine what could be done to a G184 MX5 ND with an extra 25k of tweaking budget...

HeMightBeBanned

512 posts

114 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
The Elan had a backbone chassis, not a ladder chassis. Very different. The backbone chassis from the Elan was to be adapted to form the basis for many subsequent Lotuses.

Esceptico

1,518 posts

45 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
Kolbenkopp said:
This is pretty much sports car apotheosis IMO. But for ~ 50k GBP (!) one could build something better starting with more modern tech / safety / usability. Imagine what could be done to a G184 MX5 ND with an extra 25k of tweaking budget...
I think the difference is that whatever you did to an MX5 is that it would
not weigh 700 kg. Not look so good. It might work all the time though!


Lotobear

847 posts

64 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
"it was built on a ladder chassis"...I gave up after that bit

coppice

4,867 posts

80 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
The definitive small sports car . I can recommend watching the pace of the 26R (the racing version)which regularly plays its David to TVR . Cobra and Bizzarrini V8s' Goliath in historic racing.

I so nearly bought a Sprint , fully fettled by a Team Lotus mechanic, in 1978. Couldn't raise the cash in time - all £1100 . Weep.
Advertisement

mrfunex

444 posts

110 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
Requires proof-reading.

Come on guys, there’s an entire section that’s repeated!


snowen250

911 posts

119 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
I don't normally complain about poor fact checking and prose in articles, as I write them myself in my own job role and know its not nice to find out later you've ballsed it up from some smart alec online.

But the info on the chassis is wrong, and a whole section has been repeated. It's not like Elans are cars with a scarcity of info out there.

However, I love these. I love the looks. The engine, the handling. The history. All of it. However I cant afford one. So I bought a Mk1 MX5. Which essentially. Does all the same things. And is reliable. And I bloody love it.

But I'd swap both of mine for that blue Elan above. Just automotive perfection.

mooseracer

387 posts

106 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
I'd really like to know whether the throttle is instantaneously impactful on engine revs or not?

kambites

55,378 posts

157 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
I nearly bought one instead of my Elise. The Elan is, IMO, a better driver's car but since it was going to be a daily driver I decided I couldn't live with the leaks and the rust. I'd still love to own one as a weekend car at some point but they've almost doubled in value since I was looking at them. frown

coppice

4,867 posts

80 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
Me too - all that's missing is a 'rifle bolt gearshift' (or gearchange , in old money) and some guff about rotation

RobaBarker

13 posts

37 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
Esceptico said:
I think the difference is that whatever you did to an MX5 is that it would
not weigh 700 kg. Not look so good. It might work all the time though!
Agreed on the looks (and I've got a '98 MX5 myself). You might be able to cut that much weight out of the first gen and still get the reliability. Sadly the weight of modern cars is (mostly) increasing thanks to all of the extra safety features.

I'd still take the Lotus though.

GranCab

1,267 posts

82 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
To whom it may concern .....

1/ Typical Ladder Chassis



2/ Lotus Elan Backbone Chassis



If you need any more help in distinguishing them ...

  1. 1 looks a bit like a ladder and

  1. 2 looks a bit like a backbone.
Edited by GranCab on Tuesday 9th October 10:37

Turbobanana

1,181 posts

137 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
snowen250 said:
I don't normally complain about poor fact checking and prose in articles, as I write them myself ...
Followed by

snowen250 said:
...Which essentially. Does all the same things. And is reliable. And I bloody love it.
Riiiiiight.

On a separate note, is there really any point comparing a 50 year old Lotus with something more modern with a broadly similar value? Nobody doubts that the modern will do everything better, faster and more safely, but you either want an old car or you don't.


james_gt3rs

4,497 posts

127 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
mrfunex said:
Requires proof-reading.

Come on guys, there’s an entire section that’s repeated!
hehe I thought I was going mad

Nerdherder

337 posts

33 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
Kolbenkopp said:
This is pretty much sports car apotheosis IMO.
Indeed. Love the colour too, Imho Mazda should not only have taken the idea but also the design philosophy. If a manufacturer decided on a true tribute (Focused lightweight, graceful style, spectacular handling and spirited performance) car I think there will be plenty of demand.

jnoiles

64 posts

92 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
Nerdherder said:
If a manufacturer decided on a true tribute (Focused lightweight, graceful style, spectacular handling and spirited performance) car I think there will be plenty of demand.
<looks at Elise sales numbers>

Hmm

hondansx

3,257 posts

161 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
Such great cars. I was looking for an S2 earlier in the year and they seem to be particularly rare no, so no surprises a nice one is decent money.

I am lucky enough to have been racing a genuine 26R this season and have loved it. Such a divine little thing to raise; makes everything else of that era seem very clumsy.


snowen250

911 posts

119 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
Turbobanana said:
Riiiiiight.

On a separate note, is there really any point comparing a 50 year old Lotus with something more modern with a broadly similar value? Nobody doubts that the modern will do everything better, faster and more safely, but you either want an old car or you don't.
Not sure what you are getting at here? I liked the article, but it was quite plainly badly proof read, with sections repeating. I was merely pointing out I wouldn't normally comment, but this time it needed to be pointed out so that next time the entirety of the posts would be about the car, not the article.

And I compared it to the MX5 as the original MX5 is essentially a modern copy, and the closest I could afford.

Hope that clears it up for you smile

s m

16,914 posts

139 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
jnoiles said:
Nerdherder said:
If a manufacturer decided on a true tribute (Focused lightweight, graceful style, spectacular handling and spirited performance) car I think there will be plenty of demand.
<looks at Elise sales numbers>

Hmm
Yes, I'd say the S1 Elise was as close as anything - lightweight , great handling and very lively performance

Simon Owen

161 posts

70 months

Tuesday 9th October
quotequote all
jnoiles said:
<looks at Elise sales numbers>

Hmm
Lotus need (well I can dream) to make a new Elan, not an Elise, with the size, weight, roof design & packaging of the ND MX5 but with the dynamics and performance of a Lotus. It doesn't need to be 700kg to be a fine handling well balanced sports car.

1,050 kg works fine !!

Practicality in the Elise is pants, we've spent 10+ years 'fast road' touring in a 7 and looked at the Elise on numerous occasions thinking it would be more practical, every time we decided the 7 was better ... bigger boot and easier to throw a half hood on & off !!

We have just done an epic 1,700 mile trip around the highlands in very changeable weather, the car of choice ... a BBR ND MX5, yes for that magic moment I missed the focus of the 7 dearly and an Elise would have been just as epic to drive but both would have been utterly miserable in the fast changing weather.

The ND allowed us to drive roof down for about 85% of the trip, roof up, roof down all of the time and with enough space & creature comforts to deal with "4 seasons in one day". Most of the time it is brilliant fun ... but when you get to that magic road when everything comes together its limitations show. Yes we could have chosen a Boxter but we wanted something smaller & lighter with more modest grip levels, a new Elan could tick all our boxes and I think would sell reasonably well, perhaps even work with Mazda to tick the NA box !!! Ha yes I know dream on ...