Elite-type glassfibre monocoque having proved insufficiently rigid when applied to an open car, Lotus boss Colin Chapman came up with a simple but effective steel backbone frame for the company’s new Elan sports car. So successful was this chassis design that it still forms the basis of today’s Lotus cars. Suspension was all-independent with unequal length wishbones at the front, while a wide-based lower wishbone and modified Chapman Strut, as used in Lotus’s Grand Prix cars, was employed at the rear. Rack-and-pinion steering was sourced from the Triumph Vitesse, and there were Girling disc brakes all round. The Elan’s engine was a highly-modified 1,498cc (later 1,558cc) Ford Cortina unit topped with Lotus’s own twin-camshaft cylinder head, and both gearbox and differential came also from Ford. As development progressed the Elan became more civilised, the final Series 4 – introduced in March 1968 – benefiting from dashboard fresh-air vents and improved interior trim and fittings. The bodyshell was slightly thinner – and lighter – than the S3’s and featured flared wheelarches accommodating wider wheels, side repeaters and larger Plus 2-style rear lights. Adequately powerful, light in weight and endowed with exceptional roadholding and handling, the Elan proved an immense commercial success for Lotus, slightly fewer than 9,000 being produced by the time production ceased in 1973. Even today there are few more rewarding driver’s cars around.
This particular Elan Lotus S4 was restored for the previous owners by Lotus experts Fibreglass Services of Yapton, West Sussex and was completed circa 19 years ago. It received a new galvanised chassis ; a complete mechanical overhaul including a blueprinted and balanced engine; and a full interior refurbishment including a new hood and wet weather gear. The restoration cost well over £25,000 (see supporting invoices on file). Following completion the car was used by Fiberglass Services for a 2001 Discovery Channel documentary, after which it was stored in the owners’ home. It has covered only 350 miles since this restoration. Accompanying documentation consists of the aforementioned invoices and a V5 registration document. A delightful example in an excellent colour combination.