Lotus Elan

Continental Commentary

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Continental Commentary
Magazine Title: Road & Track
Published: July 1963
Author: Henry Manney III
Road n track 63 7 1.jpg

At Long Last, I have finally driven the Lotus Elan roadster introduced at the last London show. As my visits to England are not all that frequent. this sort of snippet test has to lie matched in with other business and of course the car is never ready and/or "only a pre-prototype, old boy."

Anyway the twin-cam DOHC Ford (1558 cc in production) hauled. It is quite a respectable rate of speed with no apparent fuss or bother. This, one would expect. What was interesting though, was the flexibility (aided Of Course by the Elan's light weight), flat torque curve, docility and general quietness of the car, attributes which are a lot more important than sheer mph to the stateside driver. Road manners, as far as I could tell on a dampish road, was immaculate; it leaned not nor did it squeal, and the steering was as one would expect from a race-bred machine-a nice feeling of tautness and breeding which I liked better than in the Elite.

The only black spots were the hard-used BMC gearbox which hissed and rattled (a Borg-Warner unit is supposed to be in production examples) and a certain amount of flutter and bang from the top braces, etc., which is inevitable in convertibles. The suspension was a bit jiggly, as it was set on the alternative hard specification, but race drivers will be thinking instead about how far they can get ahead of other competition in the 1600 class. I can't see (assuming reliability for the dohc Ford) any stock-bodied GT giving them much trouble. Even as the 1600 Alta Giulia scores over the parent Giulietta by reason of abundant bottom-end torque, the Elan should walk away from the Elites. A longer test will be coming and I will then tell You more. I also had a short ride in the car which I call the LotusCortina but the factory calls something else considerably longer. This felt and sounded like one of' the NASCAR stockers --not surprising, really. They promise to give the Jags a tussle in the Popular production car races in England. I do hope so, as a little competition is a wonderful thing. The new Mini Cooper of 1100 cc should be well in that batter too. not to mention the various twin-engine ones that have been appearing.

While on the Subject of Lotus, Mr. Chapman moaned and groaned to me about the ward-politics manner in which his 1500 Super Seven (plus Cosworth variant) has been left out of the production car category- presumably includes GT-by the SCCA. Now the Super Seven is sort of a hot rod, doesn't comply (I don't think) with the FIA's bodywork, and is certainly not in the same "spirit" of a GT car as, say, the MG-13 or Porsche.

On the other hand, the Super Seven has been in production with various engines for six years, has sold in large numbers, is a good road- (advt) machine for the aspiring driver, and certainly is no less further from the "spirit" than the Cobra or Chaparral, say. In addition, it has been produced in considerably larger numbers than the GTO Ferrari or Simca-Abarth, neither of which has reached its homologation minimum yet. It seems that there must he a certain amount of justification on each Side but viewing once again the SCCA's well- high-handedness in these matter,,,. perhaps the scale is tipped in favor of Mr, Chapman for once.