Lotus Elan turns 50 years old

In the 1960s, some of the most beautiful sports cars were the Jaguar E-Type, AC Cobra and the Ferrari GTO. However, those were all big, expensive and powerful muscle sports cars – but somewhere hidden in all the hype was this lightweight, small sports car that went by the name of Lotus Elan.

Launched in 1962 at the British Motor Show, the Elan turns 50 this year and at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Lotus will be hosting a party for the very special sports car.

At the time, the Lotus Elan came with a fiberglass body, four-wheel independent suspension, electric windows, carpets, a heater and the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds.

Word has it that Lotus has plans to produce a new-generation of the Elan when it gets its act together.

Hit the jump for a little more history on the Elan from Lotus.

Lotus Elan History:

First introduced in 1962 as a roadster (Drop Head), an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé (Fixed Head) version in 1965. It was the first Lotus road car to use the a steel backbone chassis, a technology that continued until 1995 on all Lotus road cars including the Europa, Excel and the Esprit supercar, when it was replaced by the Elise’s amazing extruded and bonded Aluminium chassis sub frame with a glass reinforced composite body.

It was also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. Although a kit was not really the best description of these cars – they could easily be assembled in a weekend, as only a few key components had to be mated together.

The Elan was technologically advanced with a twin-cam 1558cc engine (early Elans in 1962 came with a 1.5 litre engine), 4-wheel disc brakes, and 4-wheel independent suspension.

Mirroring the changing lifestyle of Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, an Elan +2 was introduced in 1967 with two rear seats. These rear seats were compact but by no means occasional and it’s not coincidence that it perfectly accommodated Colin’s growing family – a car boss has to be able to use his own cars after all!

Elan production finished in 1972 and the +2 ended two years later. With a production run of 17,392 cars, the Elan family was one of the most successful in Lotus’ history, surpassed only by the Elise. In the 1970s with Lotus’ unprecedented success on the racetrack, especially in F1, Colin Chapman introduced the now legendary Lotus Esprit, Elite and Eclat ranges, taking Lotus into the higher value market and introducing the brand to the glamour and sophistication of supercar territory.

– By: Omar Rana