Lo­tus Elan

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Drive-it Day Special The 50 Greatest Drives - Mike Le Caplain

Frag­ile. Cramped. Me­chan­i­cally sim­ple. The Lo­tus Elan – be it the lit­tle drop-top two-seater that so in­spired the Mazda MX-5 or the later, big­ger + 2 – shouldn’t re­ally be con­sid­ered such an ex­otic. Even the mod­els blessed with the glo­ri­ous Lo­tus twin-cam en­gine are un­likely to scare you silly in a straight line.

But – Es­prit V8 and sundry rabid Ex­iges aside – that’s never re­ally been what Nor­folk’s finest has ever been about. Founder Colin Chap­man wanted his cars to be re­ally light, be­cause he wanted them to have world-class han­dling. Hence the steel back­bone chas­sis and feath­er­weight GRP body.

The re­sult is a car that feels much faster than the sum of its parts, mak­ing even a hum­ble Ford Kent pre-Cross­flow en­gine – which formed the ba­sis for the glo­ri­ous Lo­tus twin-cam – sparkle, and flat­ter­ing the driver’s ev­ery in­put thanks to a chas­sis that of­fers as­ton­ish­ing han­dling and sub­lime ride in one well-rounded pack­age. Gor­don Mur­ray even once fa­mously said that his only re­gret with the McLaren F1 was that its steer­ing wasn’t as good as an Elan’s.

If you want bonkers power, buy a TVR. If you want sub­lime han­dling, buy a Lo­tus Elan.

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