Even if vintage cars survive at higher rates in the US West Coast, Lotus sightings don’t come often. Even in posh and ritzy Carmel By The Sea, an Elan out in the open is an unusual thing. 911s and BMWs, that’s a whole different thing. But Elans?
Even the most ardent fan of these will admit they’re fragile wondrous little things. Take a short ride, enjoy its light and tossable dynamics. But do stay away from long distance travelling.
Fun in small doses is definitely the way to go with the Elan.
William Garrett captured this Elan at the Cohort in Carmel. Was it on its way to Pebble Beach or just out on a weekend drive?
Cars like the Elan can bring heated discussions, detractors will refer to it as tiny and unreliable, while supporters will reply “So what?” Of course, the Miata would create an efficient Elan for the masses, far more common and easier to obtain (though early ones are getting a bit thin lately). Still, without the original Elan, would there be a Miata? The model definitely left a lasting impression.
Carmel probably raises many emotions too. In all honesty, it’s a lovely place; which is why it’s so ritzy to begin with. Have you ever seen the moneyed move in droves to a lousy location? Regardless, I visited the place on quite a few occasions and I always found myself to fit right in, even though arriving at the wheel of a 1968 Beetle. No police was ever called on me (my careful disguise in J Crew shirts must have done the trick).
As for myself, I love the Elan. Though looking at my bank account, a tired Miata will have to do.
The Elan has been covered at CC before:
Cohort Outtake: Lotus Elan – A Study In Extremes
Vintage R & T Review: 1967 Lotus Elan S/E “We’ve Never Driven A Car That Is More Sheer Fun To Drive”
As well as the show that brought it to US households on a weekly basis:
I just read a long article in the New Yorker (I think) about J Crew; I didn’t know its history and fully appreciate the ability of its clothes to make one look like part of the moneyed set at an affordable price. A winning formula, for quite some time.
Sounds interesting, I should look for that New Yorker post and get the lowdown on the J Crew history.
All kidding aside, I always enjoyed my visits to Carmel. Even though it was quickly changing and going even more upscale in the ’90s. One indelible memory: walking by the seaside curbside, ocean on our left and ever more impressive new mansions on our right. Then, suddenly, a decrepit old house sticking out like a sore thumb between the renovated hood; about 4-5 handmade signs stood in the front yard and windows: NOT FOR SALE!
Poor guy. Although if there were any inheritors, they must be doing quite well now.
Well, two of the biggest stars in Hollywood history, Clint Eastwood and Doris Day, lived there for many years. (Eastwood still alive, Day died in 2019). Funny these two stars truly were good people. I guess they moved to Carmel to get away from crazy Hollyweird.
Enjoyed seeing this, as I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks catching up on episodes of The Avengers that I haven’t watched since 1966-68. Emma Peel introduced me to that car.
Not sure when the Elan photo was taken, but the whole Monterey Bay area, of which Carmel is near the south and Santa Cruz where I live is at the North, is easy pickings for great CC’s during the weeks surrounding the summer “Historics” events at Laguna Seca Raceway, Pebble Beach and Quail Lodge. I’ve posted a few of the more plebeian cars in the past – and by Historics standards an Elan is pretty mundane. I’ve seen 1930’s Blower Bentleys and 1960’s Ferrari Lusso’s sitting in traffic. Late model exotics dot the streets like F150’s or Tesla’s.
I drove an Elan and a 914 2.0 back to back when I was in my early twenties, and I liked the Porsche much more to drive. Yeah, I know that’s heresy. But to look at, it’s no contest.
I took this pic last October, so not during car week. Pretty sure I was in the area for the day doing some hiking.
A beautiful car, inside and out, and I like the early models with frameless windows much better.
I’ve visited Carmel, and my take is that the wealthy locals are fully aware that the tourists play an important role in helping the town thrive. Those small shops and restaurants would have a tough time surviving on locals alone. So the locals have learned that it only makes sense to tolerate tourists.
Just beautiful. I’ve never seen an Elan in the fibreglass, but that seems an unusual colour for a sports car. Not an eyesore by any means, but bluish-grey isn’t a colour I would have thought of.
I’ve seen a few Elans and they are tiny. I suppose the small number of survivors reflects low production or lack of interest back in the day since they have a reputation of being infinitely rebuildable. The body is fiberglass, replacement chassis have always been available and started to be galvanized in the 90s. The mechanicals are also available apart from some twin cam engine parts.
I was conceived in Carmel, but I’ve never been back. I’m told it’s gone to the birds.
I drive my S2 around here in the Sierra foothills doing my errands. We have some similarities, neither of us have a front license plate which is required in California. Blocking the air inlet is not something I want to do.
Well, you could get an offset bracket like I have on my ’95M. Allows much better breathing, while being compliant.
What a find! Not just “any” TV car but one from a 56-year-old TV show, looooong off the air and sparse on cable & streaming, featured as the main driver for a lead actor in that show, and a car that is one tick away from becoming extinct IRL!
My inner 8-year-old is gleeful. 😏👍🏻😜
(Also, my 8 yr old self had a mad crush on Dame Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel. 🍾🥂😎)
Nice car , great location too – I have fond memories of the 17 Mile Drive.
But is the MX-5/Miata better looking than the Lotus?
It has been a long time since I have seen one. Always one of my favourites. I finally realized what seemed odd about the photos – no window frames. It was the only roadster that I remember that had frames for the windows. I guess they got rid of them for series 2.
I worked with a guy who was restoring one for ever. It was apart in his garage for all the time I knew him. I think he was stuck trying to replace the backbone frame that was bonded to the fiberglass. He never did finish it.