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Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 4:13 am
by Famous Frank
My friend Greg and I were discussing Elan stuff today, 26R's in particular and a question entered my head. How many, if any REAL 26R's (not those made up from regular Elans) are driven on the street.

My thought was did many people in the 1964 to 1966 time frame purchase a 26R and then drove it on the street and may still be driving it on the street?

Does anyone own one that is still in the condition it was when delivered new?

Many thanks,

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:04 am
by elj221c
Famous Frank wrote:My thought was did many people in the 1964 to 1966 time frame purchase a 26R and then drove it on the street and may still be driving it on the street?


Not quite being driven on the street anymore but the first driver I was a mechanic for bought an ex Ian Walker rally prepared 26r which had been bought from Walkers by his best mate and used on the road before it caught fire. This was around '69/'70. My driver and I took the rally stuff off and put it back to race spec. It was subsequently sold to Malcolm Rickets,

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:10 pm
by tvacc
Back in 1973, I met a guy named Harold O'Day. He bought and drove a real 26R back ( I think it was number 14 as I recall) from Lotus East on the NYS Thruway to Buffalo NY. The troopers stopped him because his son who was the passenger kept looking behind. Trooper did not realize it was a right hand drive. It was an ex Jackie Oliver car. I helped Harold with that car all the way through college till about 74. He set it up for SCCA racing. I remember distinctly in the car ars over teacups working the electrics under the dash. Harold walked by me and the car and I could see the shadow him through the side of the door. Door was that thin. He gave me the hard top and side windows and dash for my car which was an Elan 66 S2. Later in 1980 he called me and said he wanted to sell it and offered it to me as I was the only one that knew the car as well as he did. $5000. I did not have $100 to my name. One of the major regrets of my life.
Last I heard the car was back with Jackie Oliver.

Tony V

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:21 pm
by Mazzini
In the 80's I owned a 26R S2 that had been first road registered in 1967 to Brian Charles 'Burt' Baker. Burt worked at the Ashmore Brothers with a young Paul Matty. I discussed the car with Simon Hadfield and Tony Thompson, they said that by '67 mid engine cars dominated the sport and nobody wanted last years race car, hence the car ending up on the road.

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:30 pm
by tvacc
I was told by someone that has a 26r that he was told by someone who is supposed to know (how is that for a long connection) that when you bought 26r's from Lotus you usually bought 2. both numbered the same. I know the person that owns the other number 14 ex Jackie Oliver car. Can anyone else shed light on what the buying procedures were for Lotus way back then?

I am sure there are lots more 26rs today than Lotus ever built, but that is the way it is. I have a 26 clone or GTS and I love it. Quite the Elan and I never get tired of driving it.

Tony V

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:38 am
by Elan45
Very interesting! Back in the early 70's there was a 26R here in Columbus. I remember it showing up for autocrosses in 1972, when I was still running my Bugeye Sprite. At that time, owned by a local dentist. It was still here when I returned to Columbus Ohio with the Elan I'd brought back from Columbus Indiana. The dentist owned it a couple of times and another friend twice too. Last I heard it had gone to Minnesota, but that was almost 30 years ago. It was also a Jackie Oliver car.

That car was driven on the street but it was not very reliable. It had 2 engines, the original and another twinck built by Gus Hutchinson. One of the sales of the car, perhaps the one that moved it to Minn, it sold w/o that 2nd engine and after I bought my 45/26R in 1984, I was able to buy the GH engine and since my 45/26R was crashed in the nose leaving the timing chest and head broken, the GH engine will slot right in.


Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:47 pm
by jabingb
I've managed to trace the ownership of my S2 back to the original owner whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago. He relates his experience of driving it down to Miami where he then shipped it to Nassau and competed in the '65 Speedweek as well as the following one in '66.

This is indeed my email. How wonderful to hear about my old Elan. I bought it from Pete Pulver in 1965 and drove it to Florida the morning after I returned from the UK. My then wife Sibilla was following me in our car. The following day on the Florida Turnpike I was following another car that was exceeding the speed limit and both of us were stopped by the State police. The other car went on having paid the on-the-spot fine but I had no US dollars on me, only Sterling, having just returned from the UK. The police would not accept Sterling so I was incarcerated in the Orlando County Jail, had my fingerprints and mug shot taken and was behind bars for several hours until a friend came to the jail and posted the $25 bond. My wife following in our car saw me stopped but cruised on by. I was unable to retrieve my mug shot for my Christmas card that year.
I raced the Elan in the following Speedweek and in the first race as braked and changed gears for one of the corners the accelerator stuck wide open and when I pressed the clutch the revs went wild and blew the engine. I was unable to get it repaired in time to continue that year and then Speedweek was cancelled so I sold the car.

I don't know and never asked if he drove the Elan on the street while he resided in Nassau although I suspect he did based on another unusual Lotus he owned and drove to tennis matches with a racket jammed in the cockpit!

Read the 4th paragraph from the end

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:12 pm
by redcarandco
Dear mister Vacarro..... 26 R 14 is here in my garage being almost rebuilt and was out of factory for the first belgian lotus importer mister Jean Wauters who raced and half destroys it in Monthlery in Paris gp in 1966 and from whom I bought the car at this moment... she was a little bit used on road fully belgian registered and passed at technical state control I have resgistration and chassis plate and even the technical control card of period So....
Best regards to all and sorry for very belgian english
Roger Poulet

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:37 pm
by tvacc
Sorry for the mis-recollection on the number. It was more than 45 years ago. I know the car came from Lotus East, I know the car was owned by Harold O'Day who purchased it from Lotus East. Rest of the story, as to it being an ex Jackie Oliver car came from Mr O'Day. I had no way to verify that back then and now. I doubt Mr. O'Day would have lied to me as it was not a big deal in those days. As to the number, 14 is what I remember but after talking with my friend he has 26-S2-9 (not number 14 as i stated earlier) which he was told was an ex- motor-cycle racer Eric Oliver car, if Eric and Jackie are somehow connected with the same car number, maybe the one I worked on was 09 as well. I don't really know. So with your message, my memory is obviously wrong and I apologize for that. No offense intended. I hope you get your 26R back on the track and it gets running soon.

I just spoke with my friend that owns the 26R again, I think he read this post and told me that Eric Oliver, who passed away in 1980 was a well known motorcycle racer. He retired from motorcycle racing and started with the Elan. That Elan was 26-S2-9. Jackie Oliver (don't know if they are related) has his old car back and that is also 9. So if I was working on that car back in 73, it was Number 9.

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:49 pm
by Famous Frank
Now this is some interesting reading! You just can't make this stuff up.

Jerry I love the story about the mug shot and being finger printed. Sad he couldn't get the mug shot for the Christmas card Wouldn't that have been a hoot!

Hope I can add a story in the neat future.

Thank you for sharing!!!


Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 11:28 pm
by lebrunseven
driving a 26r on the street would be somewhat difficult, mostly because of the dog-ring gearbox . they shift nice when you are into the throttle; not so nice moving slowly! I drove mine (S2-26-09)one time for about 10 miles- that was enough for me.

Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:22 am
by Famous Frank

Great thought about the dog ring gearbox. But that just brings up a bunch of other questions. I'm trying to teach myself more knowledge. I've owned numerous Lotus cars since 1972 and recently I realize there is a whole bunch of stuff I don't know. Examples of some of the questions I have regarding REAL 26R's.

1) I realize most have been raced and as such have dog ring gear sets but I thought they came with a regular Lotus Ford Close Ratio street box initially form the factory. Am I wrong?

2) I also thought they were wet sump originally from the factory with dry sumps installed later in the vehicles life. Correct?

3) They did not come with a heater. My thoughts being that you don't need a heater in a race. Correct?

4) I believe they were equipped with wipers because even in a race you might need wipers. Correct?

5) I also believe most or at least many were ordered with a hardtop. If so, did the hardtop have a headliner or was it just bare fiberglass? A headliner would have added weight. Bare fiberglass or headliner?

6) Did they have any sound deadner or was the body, floor, etc just bare fiberglass?

7) On the same thought did they arrive with the rubber flooring I call Rhinoceros hide?

8) Were there any windshield washers?

9) Were they equipped with fiberglass racing seats or standard S1 / S2 seats. I've seen both. Were the fiberglass racing seats an option from factory like asking for a different diff ratio?

10) If there was no heater, was the an Intake grill in front of the windshield or just bare fiberglass with the indentation where a grille opening would have been made.

11) Here is one of my favorite questions. Was the frame painted red oxide like a standard Elan or was it painted grey or some other color when it left the factory?

12) What color was the block and oil pan painted when they left the factory and when they came back from either Cosworth or BRM?

13) Was there a spare wheel and tire when they were delivered?

14) Did they come with a tool kit?

15) Did that big alloy radiator have a fan? If so, was it electric, or a standard 2 blade, or ???

16) Were the front upper and lower control arms black or some other color?

17) What color were the rear lower A-arms?

My gosh I got carried away. Sorry but knowing some of these answers would be informative.

Thank you,


Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:54 am
by trw99
Frank, I hope this goes some way to helping you out. It is the draft of an article I have in preparation:

In writing about the Type 26R Elan, we have to issue a strict caveat that it is amazingly tricky to reach back over fifty years and record with any great accuracy precise details about these cars, around which a certain folklore has emerged, where fact has often been lost in stories, tales, misinformation and the fog and passage of time. I shall attempt to record, as correctly as I can, my understanding about the 26R as it pertained from its introduction in 1964 to final delivery in 1966. Once the car was delivered to the first owner, all manner of changes could and often were made to the cars, such that rarely did a standard, as factory prepared, 26R emerge for the first time on a track. Over the intervening years 26R clones have been produced by individuals or race workshops, often to very high standards. We refer to these generically as GTS cars. They are one reason for the increased values of Series 1 and 2 Elans, since they all remain eligible for current race series around the world. Unfortunately, a very small number of chancers attempt to pass off their GTS as the real thing. This is a problem that is not exclusive to Lotus race cars, other sporting marques have similar dilemmas. Sometimes the effects are felt wider, even ending up in legal battles fought in courts of law. Let us put these issues aside and concentrate on what we know about the 26R.

It took a while for the factory to realise that a racing Elan would sell. Colin Chapman apparently indicated that the Elan was never intended to go near a race track. But new owners thought otherwise and private racing teams saw the potential of the newly introduced Elan as a race tool during 1963, notably Graham Warner of the Chequered Flag team. The 1965 Lotus press release for the 26R S2, which was very similar to that used in January 1964 for the 26R S1, had this introduction: ?The standard Lotus Elan as produced by Lotus Cars Limited is a production high performance luxury sports car designed to give the owner value on a price/performance basis hitherto unequalled in the small capacity market. It is not suitable for racing. Many of our customers, however, like to take advantage of the outstanding performance, road holding and braking customary with our cars and use them for competition. Because of this, Lotus Components Limited, the company within the Lotus Group who build all Lotus racing cars, have produced a Lotus Elan competition model, the specification of which is listed below. This specification should however, be read in conjunction with the standard specification for the Lotus Elan as we have endeavoured to show here the major difference in the competition version.?

Chapman had bowed to the inevitable and sanctioned the 26R. Lotus Components first let it be known they would produce a Type 26R at the January 1964 Racing Car Show and the first press release was indeed dated January 1964, quoting a price then of ?1,645 ex works in component form. The first 26R was delivered to the customer on 25th February 1964, finished in Cirrus White and fitted with a 3.9:1 final drive and Hewland LSD. In early 1965 the Elan S2 road car was coming on line with added refinements. At the same time the S2 Elan 26R was worked up and shown at the 1965 Racing Car Show. The first one was delivered on the 5th May, coincidentally going to the same customer who had bought the first S1 26R.

The 26R Elans had many significant differences to the road cars and were in fact produced by Lotus Components on a separate line. Since Chapman was heavily involved with Team Lotus? Formula One and Indianapolis 500 efforts at this time, he felt supporting sports car racing was stretching things too much. Instead in 1964 Lotus heavily supported Ian Walker's ?Gold Bug? Elan team, which built on the ground work carried out by Graham Warner and his Chequered Flag team during 1963. However, Ray Parsons, a Team Lotus mechanic, did compete in three races during 1965 in an S1 26R, registration HJH 171C, entered by Team Lotus Ltd. The first was in the Sussex Trophy at Goodwood on 9th April. The second was the International Car Race Meeting at Crystal Palace on 7th June and the third was in Class C of the Redex Trophy at the Guards International meeting at Brands Hatch on 30th August 1965.

The production of 26Rs spanned both Series 1 and 2 Elans, being manufactured between 1964 and 1966. Unit numbers were recorded for the S1 as 26-R-# and for the S2 as 26-S2-#. Lotus Components built 52 26R S1 Elans and 49 26R S2 Elans. I am aware that there was duplication of Unit Numbers by the factory during the Series 2 run and we know which cars were so affected. It is my belief that this was nothing more sinister than either human error at the recording stage of those particular cars, or a reflection of mis-orders, or misunderstandings thereof. It should also be noted that the 26Rs were not built in sequential numbers; for example 26-R-5 was invoiced in the first month of production, as was 26-R-45.

Let?s now turn our attention to the specification of these cars. The lists here are not intended to be exhaustive or definitive, but they reflect the information put out by Lotus themselves at the time. Series 1: Engine - Cosworth Mk15 1594cc, 140bhp with twin Weber 40 DCOE2s and a Bendix electrical fuel pump. Stiffened chassis. Alloy drive casings. Competition wishbones. Rose jointed rear wishbones. Thicker antiroll bar. Magnesium hub carriers. Alloy front callipers, with special discs. 3.9 diff with 4.1 and 4.4 option. Alloy radiator. Rollover bar behind driver. Dunlop 550/13 R6 racing tyres fitted to especially designed full wheels. Lightweight body and bucket seat, black leather covered steering wheel, wider wheel arches. Most were fitted with the optional hard top.

Lessons learnt during the 1964 season led to the incorporation of improved equipment into the Series 2 for 1965: Engine - BRM type 84 phase III, 1594cc, 150bhp with twin Weber 45 DCOE13s, an electric fuel pump and a large bore four branch exhaust. Stiffened chassis. Alloy drive casings. Adjustable competition wishbones, rose jointed rears with a thicker antiroll bar. Roller spline driveshafts with UJ's. Alloy front callipers with special discs. Dual master cylinders and brake balance bar. Same diff options as above. Larger alloy radiator. Diff oil cooler. Rollover bar behind driver. Varley battery. Headlamps under Perspex covers. Dunlop 600/13 R7 on cast magnesium ventilated wheels. Additionally an optional sump guard and larger capacity fuel tank were available.
The completed racing car weighed in at around 600 kg and were all made in right hand drive. During the 1964 season the 26R was fully homologated. Interestingly customers later worked out that the best engines had a Cosworth block and a BRM head.

Inevitably there was some crossover of specs, particularly between the late 1964 S1 and the earlier S2 cars. At some time during 1964 the body was changed from being narrow and fitted with standard front bumpers, to being wider, fitted with a smaller, shorter front bumper. Wheel arches were slightly flared to accommodate the wider tyres fitted. Small Perspex headlight covers, now known as Chinese covers, were fitted to S2 cars, though some S1 cars had larger covers over the usual headlight opening. Many owners fitted a scoop on the rear of the nearside sill to aid cooling to the diff. Some even ran with the boot lid slightly raised for the same reason.


Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:01 am
by trw99
Tony, I believe the number you seek to recall is 26-R-17 if it was a Series 1 car.

However, if it was a Series 2 car, it would have been 26-S2-9a. Jackie and Eric Oliver were brothers; Eric used to ride with Dennis Jenkinson (Jenks of Motorsport magazine fame) in sidecar motorbike racing before trying car racing. Eric bought 26-S2-9b. I use a and be to distinguish between the two cars; Lotus never distinguished them in any way that I am aware of. The current location and state of both cars is known!


Re: Street driven 26R

PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:06 am
by trw99
Frank, in addition to the above, we have photographic evidence of as original a 26R as we shall ever have in the form of the S1 car that was owned by Tojiro Ukiya who drove it at an event at Funabashi circuit, Japan, in 1965. Tragically he died a month or so later, in a different car, at Suzuka. His family were said to be devastated and decided to keep the 26R in his room, at home, as a memorial. Apparently, no one has touched the car since then, other than move it to the Toyota Museum in Tokyo, where they have a small display in his memory.