1973 Lotus Elan Sprint
AMMENDMENT: 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
Bidders are advised that more paperwork has now turned up. 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 and also confirming its chassis and engine number.
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.
We are led to believe that owner number two took the car back to Lotus in Hethel in the 1990s where it was fitted with a new, Lotus supplied chassis (rust treated of course) and resprayed its original Regency over White. Although not documented, its former owner confirmed to the vendor that in 1998, Maurice Storey from the Lotus archives confirmed that the engine is the original to the car.
Bidders are advised that the vendor has just located the large history file which is on its way to us, which may well add significant information regarding its restoration at this time - stay posted!
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 very 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.
There is little in the way of paperwork, much of the history information above coming from the previous owner - the car comes with a V5C and a Lotus Elan workshop manual. 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 [email protected]
Reg No: NMA85L
Chassis Number: 721108266
Engine Number: N28387
Engine Size: 1558
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