Lotus Elan

26r identities and other info

PostPost by: garyeanderson » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:13 am

If you missed the show on Sunday in the "for sale" section than this is the encore performance. The start of the discussion was the posting of a link on ebay for the sale of a 26r with LHD, it quickly turned into a spitting match and finally calmed down a bit. The LHD Elan in question is at the bottom of this page...

This is a proper place to continue this discussion and if it dies, so what

I did some searching through the records the Frank Bertrang posted and came up with a list of 52 unit numbers that had only the unit number and no engine or invoice date. Kind of an interesting number and fairly close to the 47 listed in Eds letter. The unit numbers are mostly in the S1 range and only 8 of the 52 in the S2 unit number range.


maybe someone can help me here? :)


http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Lotus-El ... dZViewItem

Lotus Elan 26R
Vehicle Description

Lotus Elan 26R,race car,always being used for trackcar and hillkliming

standing still for moore then 20 years,dry sump,magnesium uprights front

and rear,big Dif,drives and runs,the restoration was started but has to be finisched

Any one know this Elan? some one ought to find out more...
26-4576 s.jpg and
26-4576 r2.jpg
26-4576 r2.jpg (9.68 KiB) Viewed 239036 times
26-4576 r.jpg and
26-4576 lf.jpg and
26-4576 l.jpg
26-4576 l.jpg (11.33 KiB) Viewed 239018 times
26-4576 f2.jpg and
26-4576 f.jpg and
26-4576 e.jpg and
Last edited by garyeanderson on Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:40 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:28 am

And this is helpful too in this on-going discussion and all on this very site!

http://www.lotuselan.net/publish/elan_h ... n_ap.shtml

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PostPost by: elancoupe » Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:35 am

Good idea, Gary.

Not related to anything in particular, just a page I found the other day

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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:42 am

And some additional perspective, which is helpful:

For Lotus the year 1962 was arguably the most important in the company's history. In short succession they launched the revolutionary monocoque 25 Grand Prix car and the equally ground-breaking 26 'Elan' road car. The former helped the British company to win its first Formula 1 championships while the Elan firmly established Lotus as a serious manufacturer of road cars. Additionally the specialist company introduced the 23 sports racer and a number of single seater machines. So company founder Colin Chapman could be excused for not building a competition version of the Elan. This however did not stop his customers from taking their road going Elans to the track.

While the featherlight Elan road car received universal praise for its handling, it did require some work to prepare it for the track. Privateer teams like Walker Racing and Chequered Flag took up the gauntlet and carried through various modifications to the steering and braking. Chapman followed the private efforts with great interest and even allowed his works drivers to race the competition Elans. Considerable success was had in the 1963 and 1964 seasons and the machines were piloted by the likes of Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Sir John Whitmore. Ever the businessman, Chapman recognized that there would be a market for a works built Lotus Elan racing car.

Chapman gratefully incorporated the modifications made by his customers. Additionally the suspension was extensively modified with thicker anti-roll bars and adjustable competition wishbones. The wheel arches of the fiberglass body were widened to make room for bigger wheels and tires. The Lotus twin-cam four cylinder engine was offered with a Cosworth or BRM tuning package. Interestingly customers later figured out that the engine work best with a Cosworth block and a BRM head. Dubbed the 'Elan 26R' the competition car was offered with a roadster body, a roll-over bar and a separate hard top. Although no two cars were alike most 26Rs featured cowled headlights and knock-off wheels.

During the 1964 season the Elan 26R was fully homologated. The completed racing car weighed in at around 600 kg while the 1558 cc could produce anywhere between 160 and 175 bhp depending on the state of tune. Its closest rival was the Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ that also sported a potent 1.6 litre engine in a lightweight but slightly heavier package. In true David and Goliath fashion the racing Elan was also more than capable of taking much larger engined machines. This resulted in fascinating battles, which saw the Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins rush away on the straights with the Elan hunting them down again on braking and through the corners.

Lotus never raced the Elan 26Rs themselves but instead heavily supported Ian Walker's team, which had greatly contributed to the development of the cars in the first place. Walker fielded his golden Elans all over the UK and also in the rest of Europe. Together with several other teams, they dominated their class. The most successful 26R driver was future Lotus F1 driver John Miles. In 1966 he used a Willment prepared example to win the Autosport Championship with 15 race wins. He finest drive came at Brands Hatch when he fought with a V8 engined Sunbeam Tiger for victory. His bonnet started flapping and he had to visit the pits to have it removed. Bonnetless he clawed back up the field and finally passed the Sunbeam on the last lap.

With many of the cars sold to customers in kit form, it is hard to say how many Elan 26Rs exactly were produced. Most estimates state 97 as the most accurate number. In 1966 it was replaced by the mid-engined Lotus 47 that was based on the Europa road car. Today the 26R is still very popular with historic racers who still regularly display the Elan's giant-killing skills. Many of the standard Elan road cars have since been converted to competition spec so at times it is difficult to distinguish the real deal from the pretenders. The most obvious tell-tales are the open headlights and the knock-off wheels. Although to complicate things not all of the 'originals' were equipped with these.

With acknowledgement to Wouter Melissen and ultimatecarpage.com

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PostPost by: jkatthehelm » Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:41 pm

This is really interesting guys!
The number 26R-S2-33 is not apprarent on the car in question, it's 26-4576, listed in the Lotus archive as "Racing Elan" in May 1965, and verified by Chris Brown at Lotus as being "built as a 26R".
What is the accepted definition for a 26R?
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PostPost by: ppnelan » Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:50 pm

elancoupe wrote:http://www.xlrefrigerators.com/lotus.elan.26R.htm

At the bottom of the page: Lotus 26R S1 22 - for sale at around ?95K :shock:

jkatthehelm wrote:26-4576, listed in the Lotus archive as "Racing Elan" in May 1965, and verified by Chris Brown at Lotus as being "built as a 26R".

So the answer to the question in the original thread 'is this a bargain 26R?' appears to be 'yes'...? 8)
Looks like someone had $35K+ to 'gamble' as it has been removed from EBay ('no longer available for sale') :wink:

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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:50 pm

jkatthehelm wrote:Thanks Gary, I didn't think you were!
THe question refers to the car that started the thread (and other cars like it), which bear a conventional chassi number (in this case 26-4576) and which appear in the Lotus records without invoice and the comment "Racing Elan". In the case of this particular car, possessing many if not all correct bits.
Hope that's a bit more clear!

Hi James

I looked a little more at the records and from the start of production of the S1 to the end of the S2 production there are 183 unit numbers without invoice date, or engine. Of these 5 were before the unit number listed in Ed's letter from Lotus, 126 were after and the 52 during those numbers.

If we read Robinshaw and Ross, they say 52 S1 26r and 45 S2 26r

Funny there 52 number matches the number of engineless uninvoiced unit numbers durring the time period in Ed's letter. My Guess these are the S1's 26r's.
That leaves the 126 unit numbers after the Unit number in Ed's Lotus letter, maybe the 45 units are something that lotus admitted to at one time who knows, but the other 80 unit numbers are probably only known by Fred Bushell and Colin. I am sure there were cash for cars and and parts leaving without being recorded, but they are just that. They are back door cars that may have been assembled at lotus but left without a pedagree so to speek, they may have been complete 26r's or just a trimmed chassis body unit to replace a crashed one. As such I don't think that a back door car is as valuable as on of those that left lotus through proper chanels.

James where did the info come from?
"(in this case 26-4576) and which appear in the Lotus records without invoice and the comment "Racing Elan".

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PostPost by: jkatthehelm » Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:39 pm

Hi Gary
Thanks for your summary.
The info is from the page in the book of wisdom that Lotus keep for all their cars - I got interested and asked the archivist.
He told me that any car that has this entry certainly went to Lotus Racing Devs and was built as a race Elan, and of course the only Lotus built Elan race cars were built to 26R spec. But does this make it a 26R?
I think I'm getting too far down the line of my day job which is regulatory affairs, albeit in pharmaceutical medicine, but this stuff always hooks me. :roll:

Last edited by jkatthehelm on Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: cabc26b » Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:40 am

If I am not mistaken Colin Chapman had the company divided up into three entities at the time that the 26Rs were being made -

There was Team Lotus - they mostly did the F1. with an occasional deviation to work on other factory cars - they did not mess with customer cars and the factory did not officially race the elan.

There was Lotus components, they did the customer racing cars, and would have been the entity assembling the 26R. It is also said they would assemble lotus sevens AND Elites in their spare time, or in some cases the guys would make their own specials from what ever was laying about because they were not paid enough to afford the cars they helped make.

And lastly there was Lotus Cars. making elites elans and europas etc.

Lotus components was the first entity to close - in around 1971. Asking Group lotus , yet another company , about components records should have yielded exactly what you got here via ed... we think the old lotus cars company sent them some stuff, maybe they made some race cars with it , no here knows for sure ( guy even though "team" did the cars.. wrong, they didn't ) .

However - the unit numbers might make a smoking gun for those trying to see it they might have the real deal. Or spawn another run of impostors.

As an editorial comment , the 7, 11, 23 and 26R have to be the most suspect group of racing cars out there. At RRR this past Dec a fellow racer knowing I am a fan of lotus and like the elan told me he knows the location of a real 26R in need of restoration at a shop etc etc - was I interested ? I thanked him for the info and headed back for another plate of BBQ and a beer.
Last edited by cabc26b on Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: tvacc » Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:56 am

I worked on a 26R during college and the mid 70's. The car is very distinctive from a normal elan.

Most notably they had very thin door panels. You could easily see the light through them. The suspension was heim jointed....they were all right hand drive.

More will come to me as I think about it....
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PostPost by: hatman » Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:03 am

With regard to Team Lotus, the F1 sub group, I remember reading several years ago (can't remember where, however) that Colin Chapman's instruction to the mechanics involved with building and preparation was that everything, parts, measurement, fit etc had to be 'spot bollock' (a rather charming Chapmanism that I haven't encountered elsewhere) rather than the 'near enough' approach applied in other parts of the operation, suggesting that he was probably fully aware of the somewhat iffy reputation that attached to Lotus build quality. 8)
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:14 pm

cabc26b wrote:And lastly there was Lotus Cars. making elites elans and europas etc.

I apologize at the outset for moving a bit off topic. Some Elites have Lotus Cars chassis plates and others Lotus Components. For a time it was thought that Elites sold in kit form had Lotus Components plates. However my Elite, 1771, has a Lotus Components plate and was clearly sold on 21 September 1962 as a complete vehicle. The invoice is on Lotus Cars letterhead. We suppose it was a matter of which group needed the revenue in a particular month. I'll step aside now and let the 26R discussion continue.
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PostPost by: cabc26b » Wed Jan 21, 2009 5:08 pm

Hi Russ -

Sorry for not giving the elite it's due and mentioning the components assembled/tagged elites as well . one more move off base before I return - did the elites ever get the lotus engineering tag ?

Now on subject -

It's not the first time I have mentioned this but it seems to me that the first litmus test is to identify the the body number and the frame number(s) If they show up in lotus cars books with a date and ship to , then you don't have a factory 26R. real simple. If you have the body and frame of a unit number that is noted to have been sent to components you are looking good, dead on if it shows on the books plated with a 26R number. if you have one of the missing un-noted unit numbers , maybe , maybe you have a hope , but you better get going on documenting the chain of ownership etc etc.

If you don't any identifying numbers, no records, no mentions etc then maybe you don't have enough to state definitively the car is a 26R

My S2 looked the part, I had an unbroken chain of ownership , pictures of the car in period, on track racing, in the pits, on the grid, with logbooks, mentions in oldracingcar.com via related car history from people who remember it. Car had not been re-bodied or reframed - The car is documented , it shows up in lotus's books being shipped to a north american distributor. Not represented as a 26R.
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PostPost by: twincamman » Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:51 pm

guys with all due apologies --aside from my letter and Gary's list all I'm seeing is reminiscence and opinions ----If you worked on one car how can you state -all cars were RHD ? DOES ANY ONE HAVE HARD EVIDENCE ?? Dealer lists or option lists distributor lists ?? ANY HARD EVIDENCE AT ALL??? - :( --ED
dont close your eyes --you will miss the crash

Editor: On June 12, 2020, Edward Law, AKA TwinCamMan, passed away; his obituary can be read at https://www.friscolanti.com/obituary/edward-law. He will be missed.
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PostPost by: cabc26b » Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:24 pm

Ed, I have to agree with your points here re RHD vs LHD . I would also point out that hard evidence is a knife with two edges and it cuts both ways.

For example most people would assume or think that 47 was also an RHD only deal, it was not. However, the few (2-3) LHD cars are well known including their current dispositions. so If you see a LHD 47 in North America excellent chance that it is bogus, because the last one known to be here was sent to Japan awhile back.

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