The Lotus Elan is one of the British marque’s most iconic models. This compact sports car was first introduced in 1962 as a convertible, but was soon offered with the option of a hardtop and coupé version. It was designed with a philosophy of minimum weight, which was embodied in the steel platform chassis and fibreglass body, making it an extremely lightweight car, weighing just 680 kg.
The first Lotus Elan was equipped with advanced technology such as a 1558 cc twin-cam engine, four-wheel disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension.
In 1967, Lotus introduced the Elan +2, with a wider wheelbase and two additional rear seats. This model continued production until 1975, while production of the original model ended in 1973. In total, it is estimated that around 17,000 units of the original Elan and Elan+2 were produced.
The Lotus Elan was Lotus’ first commercial success, beating the less commercial Elite, and winning races for the next ten years. The Elan also played an important role in pop culture, especially when the television character Emma Peel from The Avengers drove an Elan.
Ron Hickman, who also designed the first Lotus Europa as part of Lotus’ GT40 project, was the designer of the first generation Elan. In 2004, Sports Car International magazine named it sixth on its list of the best sports cars of the 1960s. In addition, the design of the original Elan also inspired the successful 1990 Mazda MX-5, known in North America as the Mazda Miata.