Hark back to the glorious days of British sports cars. The year is 1962. The previous year Jaguar launched the stunning E-Type. It instantly became a dream car for car enthusiasts, myself included.
Then, in 1962 Lotus launched the Elan at that year's British Motor Show. It too was a hit as many saw it as a far more affordable dream car. It joined my list of aspirational cars as well.
At the time of the Elan's launch it was regarded as technically innovative with the first backbone tube chassis of any road car, a fiberglass body, four-wheel independent suspension and up-to-date styling. The car was initially powered by a 1.5-liter engine but that was soon replaced with a twin-cam 1558cc 4-cylinder engine which provided a great power-to-weight ratio since the car only weighed around 1500 lbs. It also had four-wheel disc brakes and, almost unheard of in those days, electric windows and luxuries like a wooden fascia.
Not surprisingly the Elan was a big hit with stars in the swinging sixties in London. Fans of the Avengers TV show will fondly remember Emma Peel racing around in her Elan.
Elan production finished in 1972 and the +2 Elan ended two years later. It had a production run of 17,392 cars, and the Elan family was one of the most successful in Lotus' history, surpassed only by the Elise since then.
I was fortunate enough to be able to buy a seven-year-old one-owner 1968 Elan SE myself in 1975. It proved to be totally reliable and the only thing I replaced during my nine years of ownership was the water pump. Naturally it was tremendous fun to drive around British country lanes for a few years before I shipped it to California.
As I mentioned in my review of the a few weeks ago, my Elan was one away from being the `model' for the Miata, which was designed as the spiritual successor of the Elan. The Mazda MX-5 (Miata) has become the most popular sports car ever made and it owes its existence to the Lotus Elan that was born 50 years ago.