Classics Monthly - - Interchangeable parts -

Lo­tus is one of the ac­knowl­edged masters of sus­pen­sion de­sign – its sports cars are fa­mous for com­bin­ing su­perb road­hold­ing, han­dling and feedback with a supple and com­pli­ant ride. In fact the firm’s real bread­win­ner has never been its cars but other man­u­fac­tur­ers beat­ing a path to Hethel to em­ploy Lo­tus to fine-tune their own work. And the sem­i­nal Lo­tus Elan of the 1960s shows Lo­tus’ skills at their very best. This was a sports car built on the same prin­ci­ples as a Lo­tus For­mula One car, over­seen by Colin Chap­man him­self, who made such a con­tri­bu­tion to sus­pen­sion de­sign that he has an en­tire mode of spring­ing named af­ter him, the Chap­man Strut. So what does the Elan use as the ba­sis for its sus­pen­sion? The hum­ble Tri­umph Her­ald, beloved of driv­ing schools and maiden aunts.

That is, of course, be­ing a lit­tle un­fair on the Tri­umph, which boasted front sus­pen­sion fea­tur­ing com­pact coil springs and dou­ble wish­bones that were very ad­vanced for their time. In the event the Lo­tus only di­rectly used the Tri­umph’s up­rights be­tween mod­i­fied wish­bones, as well as the steer­ing rack and many of the steer­ing parts such as ball joints. Early Elans with bolt-on wheels use Her­ald up­rights and later ones (and Elan+2s) with knock-off wheels use the ones from the Vitesse and GT6. It’s pos­si­ble to source sev­eral Tri­umph up­rights for the price of one gen­uine Lo­tus one. The Tri­umph Her­ald’s ball joints were still do­ing ser­vice on the last of the Lo­tus Es­prit V8s in 2004!

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