An 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 well restored S4 Elan has only had three owners from new- the current vendor having purchased the car in 1986. At this time the engine had been overhauled with bigger valves fitted, a new water pump and clutch assembly. The car has since had an extensive chassis and body restoration with the bodywork stripped and “Myers” and prepared thoroughly. We are informed that all the body shutlines were “cut and glassed” to give outstanding panel fit before final preparation and painting by SMS. At this time all the chassis components were stripped, inspected and renewed as necessary to rebuild the car to original Lotus specification, costing £13,500 in 1991!!!
The car has since been run, serviced and maintained continuously covering about 500 dry miles a year. Fresh MOT in October 2016, no advisories, now at 65000 miles, valued by Club Lotus at £35000 in November 2014 the car is offered with a full tonneau.