The Lotus Elan was the true mother of all sports cars. You see, a true sports car does not require extreme power or a big engine with tons of cylinders pounding away – it doesn’t hurt though. A true sports car is about precision handling, peppy acceleration, and the ability for the driver to feel like he is in control of what’s going on.
The Elan is all of that wrapped up in a sexy looking, 2-seat roadster package. Well, this old girl recently had her 50th birthday and she is looking just as stunning as she did the day she rolled off of the production line back in 1962.
The Elan was a driver’s car and spawned many other spin-offs and reproductions, like the Alfa Romeo 124 Spider, BMW Z3/4, and most notably, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The original Elan had a fairly successful run, lasting 13 years before getting the axe. In 1989, Lotus chose to resurrect the Elan, with the Elan M100. While the M100 was a mechanical success, it was not nearly as popular as the original rendition and it lasted just seven years.
In 2010, Lotus introduced us to a new version of the Elan that it anticipated seeing showrooms in 2013, but that release date was later adjusted to 2017. With the recent restructuring going on at Lotus, we anticipate seeing this date getting adjusted once again.
So, how can we give the Elan a special birthday this year? Well, by giving her a full historic review, of course.
Click past the jump to read our complete historical review on the 50-year-young Lotus Elan.
At the 2010 Paris Auto Show, Lotus unveiled the impressive Elan concept with the full intention of bringing it back in production form by 2013. Be it blind passion or just a mere oversight, Lotus failed to notice that their new concept bared a strong resemblance to their Evora model, so the company is putting the concept on hold indefinitely.
This may sound a little familiar considering we had already heard that the Elan was headed back to the drawing board for looking too much like the Esprit Concept revealed at the same auto show. This begs the question as to whether or not the Esprit will also be delayed because of the same issue, but apparently that is not the case. The Esprit and the Elite will share many of the same components, including a V8 engine that is rumored to deliver around 550 horsepower. This engine will be mated to either a standard dual-clutch transmission or an optional manual.
However, before those puppies are born, Lotus will be working on updating the apparently inspiring Evora with some aesthetic changes and new trim levels to align it with the rest of the "Lotus New Era" range. The Elise and Exige will also be seeing the light of day, but will do so with newer versions "more usable for every day". The production Exige will finally be revealed at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
What’s with automakers bringing out two concepts of the same car all of a sudden? First with the FT-86 and the FT-86 II and now Lotus with its Elan and the Esprit concepts. Both concept vehicles were presented at last year’s Paris Auto Show, so one would think that the next logical step would be production models for those vehicles. Not so.
It seems that Lotus is tossing the two models back and starting fresh from the drawing board because the two concepts just looked too similar. Now, it’s up to Head Designer, Donato Coco, to work on a more optical differentiation between the two sports cars, which makes darn good sense considering the Esprit supercar is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine and the Elan sports car only gets a 4.0L V6 engine.
The next generation Lotus Elise is also getting bad feedback due to its enormous weight gain. The current generation weighs only 876 kilos (1931 lbs), but the next generation model will weigh up to 1,100 kilos (2425 lbs). Lotus has yet to decide the fate of the Elise, but the Elan and Esprit will have to undergo some massive changes before getting launched onto the market in 2013.
The last model in Lotus’ display at the Paris Auto Show is the Elan, a 2+2 sports car that will go on sale in the autumn of 2013 at a price of £75,000 ($118,000 at the current rates).
The 2013 Elan is powered by a 4.0 liter V6 engine that delivers 450 HP and 465 Nm of torque. The engine will be combined with the new KERS system and will sprint the car from 0 to 60 mph in 3,5 seconds, while top speed will be 192 mph.
"If there was ever a car to make you drive the long way home, it’s the Elan. Perfect for both road and track, the Elan not only ticks all the boxes, it creates new ones too. The Elan will convert people to Lotus, I would challenge people not to become addicted to driving it. It will also go a long way towards dispelling the old misconceptions about this class, that in order to have high performance you must sacrifice usability – those days are gone."
Updated 10/13/2010: Lotus has unveiled today new images of the new Elan concept car. Check them out!
Updated 12/22/2010: Lotus has revealed today new studio photos of the Elan. Check the picture gallery!
UPDATE 01/25/11: If there ever was any doubt about Lotus’ intention to become more upscale to compete with the big boys of the auto industry, this spy video - courtesy of PaulTan and the boys - of the Elan Concept’s instrument panel should hush all those skeptics. Even if its not a full-blown production ready vehicle yet, the Elan’s instrument panel features a large LCD screen flanked on both sides by two smaller components. It’s pretty nifty, if you ask us, one that paints a pretty clear picture as to where Lotus’ heads are at these days. No more small sports cars, people. Lotus is playing with the big boys now. Video after the jump.