Parking Lot Prize: Series 1 Lotus Elan

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Considering that I’m a huge fan of Lotus cars and that I even own an Elan (in pieces waiting for me to win the lottery so I can start putting it back together) we haven’t posted many photos of classic Loti (Chapman preferred “Lotus cars” as the plural of Lotus, btw).  There was a Elite prepped for vintage racing on display at the SAE World Congress, and a ’61 Seven at the Packard Proving Grounds’ Cars R Stars show earlier this year. Of course, we’ve also featured Jim Clark’s Indy 500 winning Lotus 38 that’s on display at the Henry Ford Museum, but while it’s a 1960s vintage Lotus, it’s not exactly a production road car.  That’s about it. Lotus cars are just not that common. Less than 15,000 two-seat Elans were made by Lotus, plus a few thousand more +2 models. Ford builds more F-150s in a week than all of the Elans that were assembled from 1962-1973. You’re more likely to see something like an Isetta or a Messerschmidt at a car show than an early ’60s Elan. As a matter of fact, this beautiful Series 1 right hand drive Elan, in a dark shade of BRG, wasn’t even at a car show, technically, at least inside the show grounds. It was in the parking lot at this year’s Eyes On Design show. I always expect to see some photo-worthy cars in the EoD lot – last year there was a pristine Jeep Comanche truck and a couple of V16 Cadillacs – but I never expected to see my favorite car. This Elan wasn’t perfect. None of them are – the fiberglass was never particularly ripple free and the doors rarely a perfectly flush when they’re closed – but this was a nice Elan.

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It even has the original rather slender walnut gear shift knob common to all early Lotus road cars. From the simpler tail lights and the bolt on wheels with Lotus hubcaps (Lotus hubcaps??!!!) I’m pretty sure that it’s a S1. The Series 2 cars came with knock off wheels (and a soft copper hammer to loosen the locking nut) and had amber turn signals. Some of the last S2s (mine was the 10th from last to be built) had the S3’s tail light cluster, which was an off the shelf Lucas lamp borrowed  from a higher production British car (as many Elan parts were), the Vauxhall Victor. Series 4 Elans and Europas used Jaguar E Type tail lamp units, flipped vertically and swapped left to right.

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