Lotus Elan


Lotus Elan

Infobox Automobile


name = Lotus Elan
production = 1962-1975 and 1989-1995
assembly = Hethel, England
engine = Lotus 1558 cc

Lotus Elan is the name of two convertible cars and one fixed head coupé produced by Lotus Cars. The original "Type 26", "26R" Racing version, "36" Fixed Head Coupe, "45" Drop Head Coupe, and the "Type 50" +2 Coupe, circa 1962 to 1975, are commonly known as the '60s Elans. The "Type M100" from 1989 to 1995, is also commonly known as the 1990s Elan.

1960s Elan

Infobox Automobile generation


name = First generation
body_style = 2-door coupe
2-door roadster
layout = FR layout
engine = 1,558 cc I4
production = 1962-1975

The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version in 1965. The two seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite. It was the first Lotus road car to use the now famous steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At Auto lb|1500|0, the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. The Elan was technologically advanced with a twin-cam 1558 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, and 4-wheel independent suspension. The Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine was based on Ford's Kent, with a Lotus-inspired Cosworth alloy twin-cam head. This Lotus-Ford 4-cylinder engine would go on to be used in a number of Lotus production and racing models.

An Elan +2 was introduced in 1967 with a longer wheelbase and two more rear seats. The Elan + 2 embodied the Lotus spirit: It was a fast and agile sport coupe, with very elegant lines. It combined the performance and reliability of the Elan "Coupe" with genuine 2+2 passenger comfort. Tested maximum power: 108-126 bhp(net)depending on the model); top speed: convert|120|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on, 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds, 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. Even after more than 30 years, few cars on the road can match the Elan for sheer driving pleasure. 5,200 Elans + 2 were made: less than 1,200 of these cars remain in the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.

The Elan ceased production in 1973 and the Elan +2 in 1975. An estimated total of 17,000 original Elans and Elan +2's were built. Because of its successful design and technological sophistication, the Elan went on to become Lotus' first commercial success, reviving a company stretched thin by the more exotic and less commercially successful Elite, and enabling funding of the Lotus success in racing over the next ten years.

This generation of the two seater Elan was famously driven by the character Emma Peel on the British television series "The Avengers". In 2004, "Sports Car International" named the Elan number six on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s. The original version of the car was designed by Ron Hickman, who also designed the first Lotus Europa as part of Lotus' GT40 project bid and made his fortune having designed the Black & Decker WorkMate.

The original Elan is commonly credited as being the design inspiration for the highly successful 1990 Mazda MX-5 (Mazda Miata in North America). In fact, two Elans were intimately evaluated by Mazda Fact|date=February 2007 in the process of designing the MX-5.

1990s Elan

Infobox Automobile generation


name = Second generation
production = 1989-1995
body_style = 2-door roadster
layout = FF layout
engine = 1,588 cc I4
The second Lotus Elan (known as the M100 Elan), released in 1989, was a technical tour de force and defined Lotus' "performance through light weight" tradition, although the base car was heavier, and had a lower power to weight ratio than a Mazda Miata. Its styling by Peter Stevens, who was also responsible for the redesign of the Lotus Esprit, was also controversial. Lotus Engineering had spent five years in tuning other cars and they put the knowledge from that into the new Elan. They wanted a very rigid chassis and used their gained knowledge to create a roadster chassis as rigid as a coupé.

The idea of a front-wheel drive Lotus, powered by an Isuzu turbocharged engine and motivated by an Isuzu five speed transmission, was a brave concept and its cornering performance was undeniable (on release the Elan was described by Autocar magazine as "the quickest point to point car available"). However the handling was negatively compared to the original Elan by the press, often being accused of lacking driver feedback.Fact|date=August 2007 According to Lotus sales literature, "The ride and handling engineers at Lotus found that for a given vehicle weight, power and tyre size, a front wheel drive car was always faster over a given section of road. There were definite advantages in traction and controllability, and drawbacks such as torque steer, bump steer, and steering kickback were not insurmountable." [http://www.gglotus.org/ggtech/m100-lcu-manual/m100lcu.htm] This was the only front wheel drive vehicle made by Lotus. Every model made since the M100 Elan, such as the Lotus Elise, has been rear wheel drive.

The relatively high price of the M100 Elan (vs. e.g. the Mazda Miata), along with the mixed reviews and the downturn in the global economy in 1992, particularly in the USA, meant it was not a sales success, list price being around $40,000 similar to that of the Elise when launched in the USA over 10 years later.

Production numbers are a highly debated topic. Ann Talbot of Lotus Cars USA cited US sales of 1,500 units in 1991, and Lotus Cars USA issued a statement that they sold more than 2,000 Elans in the US in 1991 and 1992. However Lotus UK archives indicate total production of 3,855 vehicles from November 1989 - July 1992. Included in the 3,855 total is the series 1 production of 129 normally aspirated examples built for the UK market only. In 1991 the only year the vehicles were available in the USA, Lotus UK records indicate that 559 Elans were sold into the US market.

US market vehicles featured a 'stage 2 body' which had a different rear boot spoiler arrangement together with a lengthened nose to accommodate a USA compliant crash structure and 16" wheels instead of the UK car's 15". Far East market cars combined the UK/Europe nose and wheels with the US boot arrangement.

* Engine: The M100 Elan used a 1588 cc twin-cam 16-valve turbocharged engine, sourced from the Isuzu Gemini (a third generation of this engine was later used in the Isuzu Impulse), which produced convert|162|hp. 0-60 acceleration time was measured by Autocar and Motor magazine as 6.5 s, and a top speed of convert|137|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on was recorded. In June 1992 Elan production ceased due to economic conditions and a desire by the then owner of Lotus, General Motors, to reduce losses which amounted to some 36 million UK pounds over the period the Elan was in production. In 1996 and 1997, Kia Motors built the Elan under license as Kia Elan for the Korean market, using a convert|151|hp 1.8 L engine instead of the Isuzu made 1.6.

* Series 2 M100 Elan: A limited edition (of 800) Series 2 (S2) M100 Elans was released during the Romano Artioli era (produced June 1994–September 1995) when it was discovered that enough engines were available to make this possible. According to Autocar magazine, the S2 addressed some of the concerns over handling, but the 0–60 acceleration time allegedly increased to 7.5 seconds, which they thought was probably due to the legislative requirement to fit a catalytic converter in all markets. In overall performance the S2's have very similar performance to the USA vehicles, having an identical engine management system calibration and a slightly lower overall vehicle weight.

References

* Arnold, G. 1981. The Lotus Elan and Plus Two Buyers Guide 1962 - 1975. Club Lotus
* Clarke, R.M. Lotus Elan Collection No.2 1963-1972. Brooklands Books. ISBN 0 907 073 689
* Harvey, C. 1982. Lotus: The Elite, Elan, Europa. Oxford Illustrated Press. ISBN 0902280 85 6.
* Lotus Cars Limited. 1974. Lotus Elan +2 Workshop Manual. Lotus Cars
* Read, Robin (1989), "Colin Chapman's Lotus (The early years, the Elite, and origins of the Elan)". Haynes/Foulis, ISBN 8 85429 703 0.
* Robinshaw, P. and Ross, C. 1995. Authentic Lotus Elan and Plus 2. Motor Racing Publications LTD. ISBN 0 947981 950.
* Robinshaw, Paul & Ross, Christopher (1989), "The Original 1962-1973 Lotus Elan (Essential Data and Guidance for Owners, Restorers and Competitors)"; additional notes by Ron Hickman. Motor Racing Publications Limited, ISBN 0 947981 32 2.* Taylor, M. 1990. Lotus Elan, The complete story. The Crowood Press Ltd. ISBN 1 86126 0113
* Taylor, W. 1998. The Lotus Book, a complete History of Lotus Cars, 50th Anniversary Special. Coterie Press Limited. ISBN 1 902351 002.
* Wherret, D. 1993. Lotus Elan. Osprey. ISBN 1 85532 377 X
* Wilkins, Miles (2003), "Lotus Twin-Cam Engine". Motorbooks, ISBN 978-0760316924.

External links

* [http://www.lotuselan.net LotusElan.net]
* [http://www.lotuselancentral.com/ LotusElanCentral.com]


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