The Lotus Elan ranks as one of the best handling cars of its era. But not only was it among the most poised cars money could buy, it was also a thing of beauty. Conceived by engineering genius Colin Chapman to replace the race-bred Lotus 7, the Elan sat on a steel backbone chassis, clothed in a slippery fiberglass body, and powered by a 1600cc Ford twin-cam engine.
Despite a high price tag, critics and public raved and the Elan became one of the most charismatic sports cars of its decade, selling over 12,000 examples. Over an 11-year production life, with five different model series, it evolved into a very desirable and speedy machine, culminating in the Elan Sprint, a 121 mph (195 km/h) banshee with a sub-seven second 0–60 (96 km/h) time. As one car magazine of the time remarked, “The Elan Sprint is one of the finest sports cars in the world.” Praise indeed.
The duo-tone paintwork with dividing strip was a popular factory option for the Sprint. The red and gold combination had racing associations—the same look as the Gold Leaf racing team cars. Everybody agreed that the diminutive Elan had an elfin charm.
The Elan was popular as a touring car because, despite housing the battery, its trunk was larger than average.
The Sprint’s interior was refined and upmarket, with all-black trim, wood veneer dashboard, and even electric windows.
Perfectly proportioned from any angle, the Elan really looked like it meant business.
Front bumper was foam-filled fiberglass and the Elan was one of the first cars to be equipped with bumpers that followed the car’s contours.
Servo-assisted disc brakes provided tremendous stopping power.
The “Big Valve” engine in the Sprint pushed out 126 bhp and blessed it with truly staggering performance. The twin 40 DCOE Weber carburetors were hard to keep in tune.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Lotus Elan Sprint (1970–73)
BODY STYLE Two-seater drophead.
CONSTRUCTION Steel box section backbone chassis.
ENGINE Four-cylinder twin overhead cam, 1558cc.
POWER OUTPUT 126 bhp at 6500 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Four-speed manual.
SUSPENSION Independent front and rear.
BRAKES Discs all around.
MAXIMUM SPEED 121 mph (195 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 6.7 sec
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 15 sec
A.F.C. 24 mpg (8.5 km/l)