The Type 26 Elan was first seen at the London motor show in 1962, and went on sale in 1963. The original Elan was a two seater, front engined convertible. Continual development over the next 12 years resulted in additions to the model range. These additions included a 2 seater coupe and a 4 seater 2+2 coupe. In total 12,224 Elans were built, making the Elan the most sold car from Chapman's era.
Following on from the Elite, with it's expensive to build fibreglass monocoque bodyshell. The Elan maintained Lotus' use of fibreglass for the vehicle body, but utilised a steel backbone chassis. It was the first production car to employ 'pop up' head lights. The car was styled by Ron Hickman who later designed the Black and Decker workbench.
The first 22 Elans were equipped with a 1.5l Ford engine block (109E) and a Harry Mundy designed head. When Lotus introduced the more powerful 1.6l Ford engine (116E) all the original 22 cars were upgraded. During the production life of the Elan it's engine power was increased from 100bhp to 126bhp. The 4 speed Ford gearbox was only replaced by a 5 speed Austin gearbox at the very end of production.
The good source for Elan information on line is Best Elan (see link below).
Other good sources of information are:
'The Lotus Book' book by William Taylor (ISBN 1-902351-00-2)
'Lotus the Legend' book by David Hodges (ISBN 0-75252-074-1)
Please see below for the Elan's statistics. Please note that the source of the performance data is sometimes official Lotus Cars data and sometimes independent magazine review data.
|Name||Production Years||Max. Power bhp||Max. Torque lb.ft||Top Speed mph||0-60mph sec||Comment|
|S1 1.51||1962-1963||100@5700rpm||102@4500rpm||115||9.0s||All 1.5l cars were upgraded to 1.6l.|
|S1 1.6l||1963-1964||105@5500rpm||108@4000rpm||115||7.1s||Increased engine capacity give more bhp and lb.ft|
|Type 26R||1964||140@5500rpm||?@?0rpm||115||9.0s||Competition/racing version|
|S2||1964-1966||105@5500rpm||108@4000rpm||109||7.5s||Improvements to brakes and updated interior.|
|S2 SE||1966||115@6000rpm||108@4000rpm||118||7.5s||More powerful engine and close ration 4 speed gearbox.|
|S3||1965-1968||105@5500rpm||108@4000rpm||112||7.4s||Fixed head coupe.|
|S3 SE||1966||115@6000rpm||108@4000rpm||120||6.8s||More powerful engine and close ration 4 speed gearbox.|
|+2||1967-1968||118@6250rpm||104@5000rpm||120||7.9s||Extended chassis allows a 2+2 seating arrangement.|
|S4||1968-1968||105@5500rpm||108@4000rpm||112||7.4s||Squared off wheelarches and a bonnet bulge to clear the carburrettors.|
|S4 SE||1968||115@6000rpm||108@4000rpm||120||6.8s||More powerful engine and close ration 4 speed gearbox.|
|+2 S||1968-1971||118@6250rpm||112@4600rpm||121||7.7s||Squared off wheelarches and a bonnet bulge to clear the carburrettors.|
|S4 SE Stromberg||1968-1969
||110@6000rpm||104@4000rpm||122||7.8s||Use of Stromberg carburettors for US emission regulations|
|S4 SE Weber||1969-1971||118@6000rpm||108@4000rpm||121||7.5s||Use of Weber carburettors|
|Sprint||1971-1973||126@6500rpm||113@5500rpm||121||6.7s||Most desirable model with the 126bhp large valve engine.|
|+2 S 130||1971-1972||126@6500rpm||113@5500rpm||121||7.4s||+2 with the large valve engine.|
|+2 S 130-5||1972-1974||126@6500rpm||113@5500rpm||121||7.4s||Finally a five speed gearbox.|