What’s the Story – Why the Lotus Elan is a True British Icon

Picture of By Craig Ranson
By Craig Ranson

Managing Director – Bridge Classic Cars

The Lotus Elan – An iconic piece of British design which has inspired and helped to form its competition since its introduction in 1962.

Lotus is known for lightweight, nimble and beautifully handling sports cars which the Elan has come to personify. Beginning production in the early 1960s, the Elan became a favourite of enthusiasts and racers alike. Its single-minded approach to pure driving enjoyment is what has stood the test of time for generations of drivers.

The early cars were built at the old Cheshunt factory before the move to the birthplace of our 1972 Elan +2, the legendary Hethel. The base of operations for Lotus since 1966 where everything from the Elan to the brand new Emira and all-electric Evija hypercar is built.

The Elans were built deep in the Norfolk countryside in the earliest iteration of the Hethel facility. The cars, which were assembled in then modern workshops, were tested in and around Hethel to make sure they are up to the driving standards that were set for a Lotus, and that still remains true to this day. Each Lotus is taken out from final assembly to be driven around the in-house test track which also served as the test track of Formula 1 and GT racers all the way back to the 1960s.

But what makes the Elan so special and have a following which spans across the globe? With cars being recorded in over 30 different countries.

The fibreglass body sat atop a steel backbone which formed its chassis. This process, which began with the Elan, would be the order of business for the next 30 years in Lotus road car production. This simple but effective way of creating a driving platform, allowed its creators (including the legendary Colin Chapman) to work on developing what many have claimed to be the benchmark of sports car handling.

The Elan’s 4-wheel independent suspension was paired with a 4 wheel disc brake set up to keep the beautiful twin-cam engined sports car settled and confident. The steering on the Elan was so legendary in fact, it has been set as the standard against which some truly incredible machines have been measured. Light and talkative, the steering in the Elan is just what you would want in a small, fun British sports car.

Such a machine has to be experienced to be understood. The lightness of touch, the purpose of expression and the visceral feeling of being at one with a car.

And, you could still win it! Click here to enter the Bridge Classic Cars 1972 Lotus Elan +2 competition.

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