Tuesday, November 17, 2015

35 Year Owned: 1965 Lotus Elan S2

The original Lotus Elan is one of those classics that on paper should be extremely expensive, but is actually not that expensive.  You won't find them for the price of a Datsun SP311, but for a European classic with low production numbers, nimble chassis, twin-cam engine, and Colin Chapman seal of approval -- they are cheap.  Dirt cheap when compared to a big Healey or Porsche 911...and while you might claim it can't compete with those 6-cylinder powered cars, you might have forgotten about the 1500 lb curb weight.  Find this 1965 Lotus Elan S2 here on eBay bidding for $18,700 reserve-not-met with 3 days to go, located in Fulshear, TX.

The Elan was commercially very successful for a Lotus during the 60's and sold more than 17,000 units over its 8 year lifespan -- most of them the simple 2-seat roadster version seen here (there was a 2+2 model that added rear seats for short people and a coupé version that added a hardtop).

Under the hood is a Lotus Twin Cam 1.6 liter inline-4 that puts out something around 105 horsepower into a 4-speed manual gearbox.  A minimized vehicle curb weight allows a 0-60mph time of around 7.5 seconds (that was really fast for the era) and perfect steering at every turn apex.

The seller imported this car from the United Kingdom in 1983, so it features right-hand drive, which might make it a non-starter for a few bidders.  It does have a few needs, cosmetic, mechanical and otherwise -- but if you are looking for a survivor, it fits the bill for a small billfold. 

See another expensive but not ridiculously priced classic? tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. These are sublime cars. Having owned 3 of them over the years, they are among the small group of cars where a flawless drive along a beautiful road is passionately seared into one's brain. Not unlike the beautiful women who are impossibly difficult, but compensate otherwise.

    This is NOT this guy's driveway. Unless he is staging the shots, or just moved in before the photos. These cars epitomize the all too true stereotype of British self-lubing chassis systems. Just saying.

  2. @Tom....LOL...I was with you on it not being his driveway, until I looked further at that last shot, and there's a piece of cardboard visible in the pic on the garage floor.......so probably authentic. ;-)

    Curious Tom, I have only tried to sit in one in high school in the early 80's, when I was working at a Land Rover Dealer and the owner had one. I recall it being a tight fit, even then at 6'3' and 150 lbs. Guessing it would be all but impossible to sit in one comfortably now....are my memories accurate of the cockpit size?

  3. Lovely car and would be neat to own and drive, or you could just buy a newer Miata as described here recently with parts readily available.

  4. When I was young growing up in San Francisco the young couple across the street had a BRG Elan, bought it new I think (yes, that long ago.) Then they had a baby and traded the Elan for a Beetle.

    I've always liked them, but it's a few lines down the list from where 'Sunbeam Tiger' and 'Pantera' live and I haven't owned either of those yet either.

  5. Probably one of the purest sports cars ever. And such pretty cars, especially with the rounder wheel openings of these earlier ones. When I was getting into slalom racing (Now called Solo II, I think) back in the early 70s, the guys with the Elans were the "cool guys".

    1. The reality is that in a bunch of years, when we're mostly dead and our spawn are riding around in Google Ubers and contact with a steering wheel is (lacking an Amendment that preserves the Right to Drive) more strictly regulated than firearms, the Lotus Elan will be the history book picture of a 'Sports Car' right alongside the picture of Lewis and Clark's canoe.

      I'm going to go cry for the future of our culture now...

    2. But in the late Seventies, with no major wars, cancer cured and social welfare straightened out, the politicians needed a new cause and once again they turned toward the automobile. The regulations concerning safety became tougher. Cars became larger, heavier, less efficient. They consumed gasoline so voraciously that the United States had had to become a major ally with the Arabian countries. The new cars were hard to stop or maneuver quickly, but they would save your life (usually) in a 50-mph crash.

      click here for the rest of the story, i think you'll enjoy it ;)


      and this video of it

    3. FTB - I am 5'10 and never had an issue, so I'm not a good comparison. After you get in one, like so many cars of the era, it feels like you are wearing it. Incredible experience of Think-Happen responses that can scare one crapless until it becomes the sensation you then crave and fail to replicate in so many other cars.

      My guess is that every car that a person gets really infatuated with, has some very visceral connection. The Elan is either deeply loved, or becomes a flimsy money pit. Depends on how much one derives from the drive I believe.

      The comparisons to a Miata, which is great car, but very different than the Elan that are sushi to bangers & mash. No where nearly as precise and connected to one's brain stem, but nowhere as wickedly fragile. It is all about the result you want. I still drive an old car, but only to places I don't necessarily to places I NEED to get to, and certainly not in the heat, not into the city, not in snow..............modern cars are incredibly appliance-like. But I appreciate a fridge that keeps things cold and a washer and dryer that washes and dries.

      My DD is a 2010 Mini Clubman S with JCW engine management upgrades. I just finished a trip from Portland, OR to NYC. It was a blast. For me it connects aspects of the Elan and the Miata.


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