Lotus Elan S4 1971


"The Elan remains the definitive small-bore sportscar, the standard by which all others have come to be measured." (Car & Driver magazine, December 1989)

The brainchild of Lotus design and development engineer Ron Hickman, Lotus's Elan was introduced at the 1962 Earls Court Motor Show as a replacement for the beautiful but unreliable Elite. Based around a steel backbone chassis (a.k.a. the 'Chapman Bracket') clad with lightweight glassfibre reinforced plastic bodywork, it boasted such niceties as all-round independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, pop-up headlights and integral bumpers. Powered by a 1,600cc (initially 1,500cc) 'twin-cam', Ford-based, four-cylinder engine mated to four-speed (later five-speed) manual transmission, the diminutive and featherweight (1,500 lb) Lotus redefined its class in terms of ride, handling and performance. One of the most desirable Elan derivatives, the S4, arrived in March 1968. Characterised by its wider wheelarches, revised interior and brake servo, the variant was reputedly capable of sprinting to 60mph in 7.8 seconds and on to a top speed of over 120mph.

The 1971 S4 SE example on offer is a righthand drive model finished in yellow with black vinyl interior. It had apparently remained a one owner car until just two years ago. Since late 2008 the Lotus has benefited from a degree of restoration including: new CV joints, new wheel bearings all round, new brake pads front and rear, plus the replacement of a range of other mechanical, body and cosmetic items. The total cost of these improvements was approximately £1,700. The car has also recently been treated to new weather equipment. GVO 458J is MOT'd into May and taxed until the end of June. The vendor describes the coachwork as 'good', the paintwork as 'generally good', the engine, transmission and electrical equipment as in 'good working order' and the interior as being in 'good original condition'. The neat design of the Elan has an ageless quality about it and the Chapman philosophy of producing minimum weight designs is every bit as relevant today as it was in the '70s. With a production run of just six years, it is not surprising S4s are keenly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Image and description kindly supplied by H&H Classic Auctions

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