Lotus Elan

ARE ELANS UNDER VALUED?

PostPost by: HAIRY » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:40 am

The national press has recently announced a 'Lightweight Competition' E Type Jaguar, one of 12 made, has been sold for ?6,000,000.00. A fine car and no doubt the new owner will be delighted with his purchase, but it is a lot of money: the same money would have bought either 100 or more Elans?. quite a few 26Rs!

It is not being suggested that Elans are directly comparable to all classic sports cars, but there are enough similarities between E Types and Elans to ponder their relative values.

This poses the question: are Lotus Elans under valued?

The list below is an attempt to show some of the likely drivers that contribute to the value of Lotus Elans:

1. Racing heritage
2. Illustrious / prestigious brand
3. Limited production: rarity
4. Sublime styling: from all angles
5. Fun to drive with road-holding that is second to none
6. High specification and practical classic, with low running costs
7. Well supported by parts suppliers, service agents, enthusiasts and owners' clubs
8. Race proven engine with opportunities to upgrade for competition or fast road use
9. Innovative chassis design that influenced future F1 cars: chassis exhibited in London's Science Museum
10. Influenced design of Mazda MX5, Toyota 2000GT and Mclaren F1
11. 1960's icon
12. Film & TV appearances and a mention in a Beatles song!

This may not be the definitive list but there are some parallels with that of the E Types', with some attributes that may exceed that of the E Type and others where the Elan falls short.

So, no attempt is made to draw any conclusions other than note that Elan owners do seem to get a lot of 'bangs for their bucks', plus a lot of change from ?6,000,000.00.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:42 am

I've had 3 E types and many Elans, and whilst I sold my last E Type last year, I still have Elans in the garage. That probably says more about my relationship with the cars though, rather than an evaluation of what's best.

First thing that many folks don't like about the Elan is that it has a fibreglass body. That is still seen as being somehow a cheap option to produce, and therefore must be a cheap car. It also genuinely frightens folks with regards what would happen in an accident, especially being hit from the side.

Second thing is the use of the Ford and Triumph parts bin, and that lessens the appeal of the car to many.

On the other hand, the E Type is one of the safest sports cars of the 1960s in which to have a crash!, It is also made from all Jaguar components, which gives it more of a thoroughbred appeal. Both the XK and the V12 engines are genuinely the best of Brit engineering for their respective era.

Both Elan and E Type were racing in the 60s, but neither had a big presence. However, the E Type was conceived as a road going version of the D Type, a serious and successful race car. The E Type's construction is very much an evolution of the D type, and that all adds to the perception of the car's 'DNA'.

As for looks, the E Type is seen by most (including Enzo Ferrari) as one of the most beautiful cars ever to be built. Well, the series 1 car is at least. The Elan has a very different appeal, and whilst it's perhaps not as beautiful as the Elite that it replaced, it has a cheeky and cute appeal that the E Type doesn't have.

For me, the Elan wins over the E Type when driving the car. The E Type is a fabulous GT for it's time, and eats miles with ease. But the Elan wins hands down when it comes to a dash across the countryside for a few hours, with lots of twisty bits!

As for values, I don't think that the lightweight E Type comes into the equation. A mint Series 1 E type with full provenance is now valued at around ?150k, whilst the equivalent Elan is around ?40k. However, a project Series 1 E Type now costs around ?30k to buy, and a full professional restoration starts at ?150k. An Elan project is around ?15k, and a professional restoration around ?60k. I think that those numbers alone begin to explain the difference in values.

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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:56 am

I believe that we only have to look at production numbers for a reason for this apparent inequality.

Some 38,400 E Types of all configurations were built, whilst only some 14,500 Elans of all configurations were made. Now of course I know Jaguar were a larger firm than Lotus so there was bound to be some imbalance. The point is that todays classic car buyer is often someone who grew up in the 1960s and lusted after a particular car. At that time, that future owner would have been exposed to seeing very many more E Types than Elans. I know, I can remember!

So what? Well, like most markets classic car values are determined by supply and demand. There is, it seems, a greater demand for the E Type than there is currently for the Elan. It is that demand that pushes up values.

By the way, I do not think my reasoning above applies to exotica. Ferrari et al produced small numbers of gorgeous cars, which received much exposure, especially amongst enthusiasts, but tended to be priced at the time way out of reach for the majority of folk. The Elan and the E Type were much more affordable in comparison.

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:10 pm

72, 529 E Types built Tim!

You are spot on about them being more seen in period, and in the mid 70s, they could be bought for a couple of hundred pounds. A lot of folks of my parents generation didn't seem to like them at all, seeing them (and many other Jags) as appealing to the more dodgy members of society. Which of course, was absolutely correct. Look at how many 'S' types were smashed to bits in 'The Sweeney' !!
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PostPost by: JimE » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:14 pm

If the conclusion here had been yes they are under valued, what would that have said about Plus Two values which are even further behind the E Type? Popularity during the period is not necessarily a strong indicator. Towards the end of Elan production Lotus customers wanted the Europa which is why there were unsold Sprints, but its the Elan today that fetches the higher premium. In the early 70s it would have been the Plus Two that was competing with E Type sales, so the caption could have read 'Are Elans (especially Plus Twos) under valued'.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:19 pm

Mark, I stand corrected, thank you! I trusted Wiki but then thought, ah, well Mark will know if I've got it wrong!

Yes, I remember the reputation. Boys picked up from school in the then new Mk X were called 'swanky'. The E Type was known as a particular religion's canoe. Didn't stop them all being nice cars, though!

Talking of which and by the by (in other words, quite off topic), we had a Padre join our battalion in Tidworth around 1976. He was very Welsh, small and dark. But he poled up in a red E Type Coupe! We then learnt that whilst he had been a civy vicar in some run down area of London, he'd tooled around in a DB4! He came with a friend and me to visit the Earls Court Motor Show. We went our separate ways and met up after a couple of hours to go and have a drink and compare notes.

'So what car took your fancy, Padre?' I asked.

'Well' he said, in that Welsh way, 'I rather liked the Daimler Limousine, like all the Lord Mayors have.'

We laughed.

'I know just the spot for a good drink, follow me' chimes the Welsh wizard. Half an hour later we were sat in the roof top bar of the Park Lane Hilton Hotel.

'And what would you like to drink, sir?' asks the waitress.

'I'll have a Singapore Sling, please' came the Welsh accented reply!

Two years later, by which time the battalion had moved to Germany, we learnt that he had been de-frocked - for bigamy!

All quite true, I assure you.

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PostPost by: nmauduit » Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:53 pm

JimE wrote:If the conclusion here had been yes they are under valued, what would that have said about Plus Two values which are even further behind the E Type? Popularity during the period is not necessarily a strong indicator. Towards the end of Elan production Lotus customers wanted the Europa which is why there were unsold Sprints, but its the Elan today that fetches the higher premium. In the early 70s it would have been the Plus Two that was competing with E Type sales, so the caption could have read 'Are Elans (especially Plus Twos) under valued'.


is the elan plus2 with respect to the 2+2 E type so much far off than the elan with respect to the E type?

I too got the feeling that elans were undervalued, but it was when looking at Triumph prices of late...
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PostPost by: Craven » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:49 pm

Apparently Blue chip cars are played out and investors/speculators are looking for new territory.
Order your Sunseeker now guys.
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PostPost by: The Veg » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:02 pm

Back to the original post, how did the ?lan influence the F1? Thinking about the F1, it's not obvious to my feeble brain.

And what Beatles song?
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PostPost by: The Veg » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:05 pm

Rarity vs. demand is an interesting area too. Fewer Plus 2s but way less demand. Reminds me of how here is USA a Sunbeam Alpine is way-rarer than an MG but still way more affordable in this era of pricey old cars because hardly anybody over here knows what they are, therefore limited demand.
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PostPost by: JimE » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:10 pm

It's backbone chassis was the inspiration for the Lotus 25 monocoque. The beatles song was 'A Day In The Life' from the Sgt Pepper Album. Lennon sings "he blew his mind out in a car". Jim
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PostPost by: The Veg » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:17 pm

Oh right Jim, thanks for that. Turns I had read that story about the song, but as I said, my brain is feeble! :mrgreen:
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:30 pm

To answer the question for all of us on here........

"Only in monetary terms"
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PostPost by: mbell » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:06 pm

For me it because the E Type is a "Cult" Classic. If you ask people, especially none car people, to name a car that defines 60's Brittan it pretty certain the top two option will be the E type and Mini.

So the E type is a symbol of that era and a lot of demand comes from that rather than whether it a good car or not. Which creates a much broader appeal for it which includes purchaser with more means that drives prices/demand up.

Each decade/period has a car (or two) that defines it and there prices are defined by that connection rather than how good they are or their pedigree.

Personally I think Elan'ss and most classics are over priced at the end of the day they are grown up toy's. The fact that your "toy" car cost more than a lot of new not cheap family cars just seems a bit wrong to me.
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PostPost by: Bill » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:22 pm

Well Gents!

Last year an S2 that was well restored very close to correct on Vancouver Island sold at auction in USA for $60,500 (aprox, $+80,000 Can.).

My casket (26/0538) is getting damned expensive!

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