Lotus Elan

66 Elan S3 History Lesson Needed

PostPost by: Chris Forrest » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:04 am

Good day from a new forum member. I've inherited with no history what I have been told is a 66 Elan S3 Se. I am not familiar with this type of car or its history, but am very curious as it is a right hand drive car and I live in the US. Not knowing where to start, I stumbled across this great forum and hoped to gather some information on this great little lotus. Any and all information welcome. Pictures attached attached for reference. Much appreciated!

Chris F. - California
IMG_2358.jpg and
IMG_2346.jpg and
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:39 pm

Hello Chris,

It looks like a wonderful car. Where in California do you live? There are several Lotus Clubs here in CA, all part of Golden Gate Lotus Club. http://www.gglotus.org/ and on FB https://www.facebook.com/GoldenGateLotusClub/

The SE means "Special Equipment" that includes uprated cams, a close ratio gearbox, and a 3.55 diff. RHD is not common, but not unusual for cars that were self imported in the '60s and 70s.

Welcome. You'll find lots of help for your questions.

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PostPost by: Chris Forrest » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:52 pm

Thanks Dan. Far Northern California where the redwoods meet the sea, also known as Crescent City. Not sure if it close to much as the Bay area of San Francisco is 7 hour drive for us. Appreciate your thoughts on the SE. Besides tearing into the engine to look for those SE items, is there another way to tell if it is an SE externally? I was hoping the weird chassis number could be tracked down some how.


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PostPost by: ericbushby » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:02 pm

Hi Chris and welcome to this forum. You will get all the help you need here as I have done ever since I joined.
Just to start, there is no engine number on the plate.
This usually means that it was supplied in kit form to a customer in the UK. Hence the right hand drive.
If you finished the assembly yourself you did not have to pay the purchase tax on the vehicle.
As Lotus did not fit the engine, they did not put the number on the plate.
The Lotus community in California seems to be thriving.
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PostPost by: Chris Forrest » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:03 pm

Car3.jpg and
Car2.jpg and
car1.jpg and

Thought I can share some more pictures.
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PostPost by: Fred Talmadge » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:54 pm

For history of your car you can start with the factory https://www.lotuscars.com/en-US/certificate-provenance/
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:45 pm

Hi Chris and welcome.

Your car was invoiced by the factory in early December 1965. It is a Series 2 Type 36 pre-airflow Elan Coupe. If it is a genuine SE, it is an early one.

If you write to Andy Graham, the Lotus factory archivist ([email protected]) he will he able to let you know the name of the first owner, if sold in the UK, or the name of the importer if sold abroad.

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PostPost by: nmauduit » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:04 pm

Welcome ! and congratulation on this very nice car, pre airflow coupe are not seen very often, and yours appears rather well preserved, steering wheel and all...

keep it on the road !
Last edited by nmauduit on Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:10 pm

The colour scheme mimics that of the much later Sprint as S3’s weren’t 2 tone. What does it say on the stripe?

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PostPost by: Elan45 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:34 pm

Welcome Chris,

Beautiful Elan Coupe. I am restoring a similar car in Florida, about 350 numbers later than yours. About the only difference I can see is your car has the S2 radiator and mine has the S3 rad. Enjoy your gift.

'67 Elan S3 SS DHC
'67 Elan FHC pre-airflow
'67 Elan S3 SE upgrade to 26R by Original owner
'58 Eleven S2 (ex-works)
'62 20/22 FJ (ex-Yamura)
'70 Elan +2S RHD
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PostPost by: donselan » Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:11 pm

What a wonderful inheritance. The car looks like it has been well maintained and driven as it is menat to be enjoyed.

I also have a pre-air flow S3 coupe, 36/5607. I am a bit far from you (Ontario, Canada) but would be happy to share information and experiences with you.

This is a great forum. There is a wealth of information in the archives and if you can't find an answer there, don't be afraid to post your question to the forum.

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PostPost by: vstibbard » Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:53 am

The original build records Tim is quoting confirms its an SE. the other items to look for were cam cover colour ( someone will chime in with the correct colour for SE, leather bound steering wheel, knock on wheels and brake booster. If you look at the camshafts near where the cam sprockets fit, you will see a single groove on both camshafts running round the circumference of the boost the sprocket bolts to. I'm not sure if S3's also had extractors fitted.

I'm not sure if close ratio gearbox was part of SE upgrades, may have been as I had one and it was fitted with CR box, the S4 SE's had standard box with 3.55 diff.

Lovely car, in many minds the S3 coupe is the pick of the bunch, in SE form its quick and responsive to drive.


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PostPost by: Chris Forrest » Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:49 am

Good evening new friends. So arriving home and seeing all the wonderful input from this forum was simply overwhelming and quite special. I have never quite experienced this and so happy a friend suggested looking into and joining a forum (thanks Mike!). Tim, Eric, Don, Roger, Steve,Ron, Fred, V, and the rest of you I am so grateful for in getting me started down the right path. I have already reached out to Andy Graham and hope soon to confirm much of what all of you suspect about this beautiful ride. Thank you all for the invitations. Look forward to joining in the near future.

Thanks for all the new verbiage also. FHC/DHC (still have know idea concerning what this acronym means), pre-airflow (help), S2 radiator, Kit Form. I am definitely a novas but I learn quick.

The stripe says Team Lotus. It has a 1965 badge(Indianapolis 500 Winners) and also a badge that says Lotus Elan Sprint, which may describe the later color scheme as suggested by Steve.

Very much appreciating all the input and will report Andy Graham's research as soon as he responds.

Very exciting.

Talk soon.

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PostPost by: The Veg » Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:59 am

Welcome Chris! Cool car indeed!
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PostPost by: SENC » Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:02 am

fixed head coupe (hard top)
drop head coupe (soft top)
pre airflow means coupes before the airflow was added in the pillar between the doors and the rear screen

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