With soft, long-travel suspension, it made the garage door opener direct drive one of the best-handling cars ever, with a fine ride too. The new Lotus was announced in October 1 For the engine, Chapman and his friend Walter Hayes at Ford conceived a dual-overhead camshaft conversion of its new oversquare small ‘four’. It was to be used in Chapman’s latest model and in a saloon that Hayes wanted to boost Ford’s image with race wins.
Former Coventry Climax designer Harry Mundy drew up the brilliant twin-cam head and JAP was contracted to build the engines; assembly moved in-house in ’ Hickman’s styling was simple yet elegant, with faired-in bumpers and pop-up headlights. A Coupe was added in ’65, styled byJohn Frayling, but Hickman again took charge of the Elan +2, a longer, wider and more sophisticated fixed-head for families. While all of this was going on, Lotus was winning F1 World Championships and moving its garage door opener direct drive wholesale from Cheshunt to Hethel. Up until the +2S of ’69, all Elans were also available in kit form for home assembly. Chassis rot was inevitable and most survivors have had theirs replaced.
Elans can be reliable if well maintained, and have even been known to clock up 750,000 miles, but not all have been so well cared for. Beware neglected cars, and sought-after models built up from parts check the history and specification carefully. Originality is now highly valued and converted cars such as chop-top +2s are becoming orphans. If a car needs a chassis, consider the ancillary work, rebuilding suspension and perhaps running gear, plus all the labour involved. Elan prices are rising, but, unless you do the work yourself, there needs to be a big margin between the purchase garage door opener direct drive and the value of a pristine car.