Lotus has long been revered for its ability to create lightweight, highly-engaging, impossibly fun sports cars. The marque dominated on track with a mindset focused on reducing weight as much as possible, allowing smaller displacement engines to outperform heavyweight competition. The company's first production car, the Lotus Elite, was a highly advanced 2-seater coupe with a fiberglass monocoque construction. Unfortunately, the bespoke and highly specialized nature of its construction led to high production costs, and Lotus lost money on each Elite sold. The solution came in 1962 as the Lotus Elan. The new roadster used a similar fiberglass body now supported by a steel backbone frame. This both increased structural rigidity while reducing manufacturing costs. Lotus moved away from the previous Coventry Climax-sourced engine in favor of a modified Ford Kent engine with a specialized Lotus DOHC head. This engine, named the Lotus Twin Cam, would remain Lotus' primary powerplant for over a decade. The Elan was initially powered by a 1,498cc DOHC I4 Twin Cam engine and touted an impressive build sheet including four-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and fully independent suspension. The engine was enlarged to 1,558cc the following year, but the excellent handling characteristics left little room for improvement.
This 1968 Lotus Elan SE was originally ordered to full American specification with European delivery at the Lotus factory in England. It was equipped with the Special Equipment package, which offered a higher output 1.6L DOHC engine that produced 115 horsepower. This provided a noticeable increase in performance for such a lightweight car. Originally painted white, this Elan is now finished in a classic British Racing Green, outfitted with factory-correct trim and a black vinyl interior, both of which are in fantastic condition. Both paint and upholstery were redone within the last two years. The numbers-matching 1.6L Lotus Dual-Cam "SE" engine performs flawlessly and sends power through the original Corsair 2000E-sourced 4-speed manual transmission. Get behind the wheel of this well-sorted Elan, and it will be immediately apparent why Lotus became a legendary constructor of performance cars. Steering is immediate and tight, gear changes occur effortlessly, and the suspension keeps the lightweight body planted to inspire confidence. The Lotus Elan offers the purest driving experience of any production sports car, and this car is an excellent example of the chassis.