Lotus Elan: red cabriolet

Lotus Elan is the name of two separate ranges of automobiles produced by Lotus Cars. The first series of cars was produced between 1962 and 1975 as a rear-wheel drive vehicle. The second series was produced between 1989 and 1995 as a front-wheel drive vehicle.

First generation

The first range of cars (1962–1975) comprised:

Two seater sports cars:
Lotus Type 26 drop head coupé (DHC) marketed as the Elan 1500, Elan 1600, and Elan S2 (Series 2).
Lotus Type 36 fixed head coupé (FHC) marketed as the Elan S3, the Elan S4 and, lastly, in a higher performance model, the Elan Sprint.
Lotus Type 45 drop head coupé, replacing the Type 26, delivered in parallel with the Type 36 in S3, S4 and Sprint form.
Lotus Type 26R racing version of the Type 26.
Four seater sports car (rear seats suitable for children):
Lotus Type 50, fixed head coupé, marketed as the Elan +2.

The Lotus Elan was the first Lotus road car to use a steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. This style of construction was to be repeated in subsequent Lotus models for nearly three decades. At approximately 1,500 lb (680 kg), the Elan embodied Colin Chapman’s minimum weight design philosophy. The Elan was technologically advanced with a DOHC 1,558 cc engine, four-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and 4-wheel independent suspension. Gordon Murray, designer of the McLaren F1 supercar, reportedly said that his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that he could not give it the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan.

The 1,558 cc “Lotus TwinCam” engine was based on the Ford Kent Pre-Crossflow four-cylinder 1,498 cc engine, with a Harry Mundy-designed two-valve alloy chain-driven twin-cam head. The rights to this design was later purchased by Ford, which renamed it the “Lotus-Ford Twin Cam”. It would go on to be used in a number of Ford and Lotus production and racing models.

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