In-Motion Classic: 1967 Lotus Elan S/E Coupé – Chapman’s Zesty Masterpiece

Yesterday, we saw how Lotus were sadly co-opted to breathe some life into the second-generation Isuzu Gemini. This was during the time when Lotus (and Isuzu) were owned by General Motors – not exactly the British firm’s zenith. Lotus circa 1990 was a shadow of its former self. So here’s something from the marque’s sunnier times.

We’ve not seen too many Elans on CC – our Editor has been chasing one about his corner of the world, seemingly without success, for the past half-decade. I guess this will not serve as this beautiful machine’s deserved long-form CC write-up: although I was fortunate enough to catch this one in vivo, interior pics were (obviously) an impossibility. And what’s a proper CC without one of those?

So this post is just going to be picture-based, mainly. Lemon-flavoured eye candy.

Lemon because of the colour, and because it’s a Lotus. There’s something of a citrusy aftertaste in anything Colin Chapman touched. Just ask John DeLorean. (About which, more soon…)

Now that I’ve caught this, two Europas and an Excel in twelve months of Tokyo, I think I’m ready to proclaim Japan as the most Lotus-obsessed nation this side of Norfolk.

A couple of historical pointers might help pass the time, though. So here goes. The Elan, launched in 1962 as a roadster, was the second “proper” car (as in not in kit form) devised by Lotus. The coupé only joined the range in 1965, followed by the +2 (which was almost a different car) in 1967. Production lasted until 1973; over 12,000 units were made.

The backbone chassis was made of steel and the body was fiberglass. Suspension was independent all around, with Lotus-made “Chapman struts” at the rear and double-wishbone front end, with Triumph-derived steering components. Brakes were Girling discs front and rear. This particular car has period aftermarket alloys, which I understand are a sought-after item among Elan owners.

The engine and transmission came from the Ford UK parts bin, with certain modifications. The engine on our feature car is the Kent 4-cyl. used in the Ford Anglia, albeit bored to 1.6 litres and crowned with a Lotus-designed twin cam head, providing 108hp @ 6000rpm. That’s plenty given the car’s weight, which in this S3 coupé guise would be 694kg (1530lbs.) – the 0-60mph time on these is 7.6 seconds.

Didn’t prevent me from catching up with it, though. Tokyo traffic was my friend, on that particular day. Probably my most successful drive-by shooting experience.


 Related posts:


Cohort Outtake: Lotus Elan – A Study In Extremes, by PN

Vintage R&T Review: 1972 Lotus Elan Sprint – The Best Elan Yet, And The Last One, by PN