1973 Lotus Elan Sprint

A super example; Hethel restoration in 1990s; original Big Valve engine; extensively recommissioned after 16 years storage; good history file; a great example of the right car

Lotus launched a legend in 1962, the Lotus Elan. Following on from the previous Elite model, the new Elan offered improved handling and performance and had a less fragile feel to its overall design.

It was the first Lotus road car to use the now famous steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1,500lb all up, the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman 'less is more' design philosophy, paring weight to a minimum in a quest for the ultimate driving experience. Below the bonnet sat an engine that would become a legend in its own right, the Lotus-Ford twin-cam with a Cosworth alloy head which went on to power other classic Lotus models including the Cortina sports saloons.

As development progressed the Elan became more civilised, the final Series 4 – introduced in March 1968 – benefiting from dashboard fresh-air vents and improved interior trim and fittings. The bodyshell was slightly thinner and lighter than the S3’s and featured flared wheelarches accommodating wider wheels, side repeaters and larger rear lights. It could sprint to 60mph in 7.8 seconds and hit 122mph flat out. Light, powerful and with sensational handling, the Elan proved an immense commercial success for Lotus, slightly fewer than 9,000 being produced by the time production ceased in 1973. Even today there are few more rewarding driver’s cars around.

This genuine Type 45 DHC has had a total of five registered keepers since first registration, although two of those are understood to be the same person with a house move which added a keeper onto the V5C for some reason. Our vendor is therfore its fourth owner.

Its second owner was to keep the car for a full 28 years, from 1978 to 2006 when it passed to the third, who was to keep it for another 16 years, the car covering just a few miles in his ownership. Our vendor purchased it at the start of this year with some recommissioning jobs to do, work which has been undertaken to an exacting and high standard.

Notes on file tell us of a ground-up restoration taking 10 years between 1978 and 1988. This is when the chassis was replaced and it also refers to an engine rebuild. There are notes on file from Lotus regarding the Hethel respray to its original Regency over white and also confirming its chassis and engine number are correct and as manufactured.

Looking for a project, the vendor purchased the car at the start of this year and has been busy. The bills total a shade under £4,000 for parts alone and include the following: a new aluminium radiator and electric fan; two new wiring looms; a new bespoke alloy fuel tank; a complete overhaul of the brakes including new pads and discs; a CV joint conversion for the rear half-shafts (£750); a new air cleaner; new Everflex hood and Everflex tonneau; a complete set of new tyres and a wheel refurb and a full overhaul of the front suspension.

When acquired, the car came with a Lotus supplied NOS wooden dash which has duly been fitted, making the interior both original and looking super, the vinyl on the original seats and centre console remaining in good order and the correct steering wheel carrying Mr Chapman's signature.

The panel fit is very good and the paintwork remains presentable, with just a few minor blemishes one would expect of a car with a factory repaint in the 1990s and which has seen very little use since. The vendor expected it to need a new set of Elan side decals and in a fit of enthusiasm purchased a set which are included, but not really needed as the ones on the car look fine.

The car comes with a V5C and a Lotus Elan workshop manual and it is believed that the 72,000 miles indicated are correct.

Since arrival on site, the car has been starting and running nicely and is one of the best Elans Sprints we have had the pleasure to offer.

For more information - contact matthew.parkin@brighwells.com


Reg No: NMA85L
Chassis Number: 721108266
Engine Number: N28387
Engine Size: 1558
Docs: V5C,

Sale Section & Buyers Premium (ex VAT): Car 12%, Minimum £150

Estimate: £34,000-38,000

Lot 111

Lot ended

Wednesday 03/08/2022

Hammer Price (inc. buyers premium)

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