Lotus Elan

Lotus Elan

Having taken delivery of his brand new McLaren P1 supercar — the first US-spec version to cross the Pond — Jay Leno is probably busy driving Britain’s most anticipated vehicle for the 2014 model year as we speak. And we bet he’s grinning from ear to ear while with all 903 horsepower at his disposal.

Coincidentally, the most recent episode of Jay Leno’s Garage also focuses on a British car. One that comes from a different era and in a package that’s more about lightness and precision handling than extreme horsepower. We’re talking about the Lotus Elan 26R.

Launched in 1963, the Elan was a small sports car that measured only 145 inches in length and tipped the scales at just 1,516 pounds. To draw a better picture of what the Elan was about, the third-gen Mazda MX-5 is about 158 inches long and weighs around 2,500 pounds.

Developed using Colin Chapman’s "simplify, then add lightness" design, the featherweight Elan didn’t need more than a 1.6-liter, inline-four engine and 105 horsepower to take on public roads or race tracks at high speeds. Of course, the tiny vehicle quickly became a popular race car .

Getting back to Jay Leno, he already owned a 1969 Lotus Elan, but his garage lacked a track-prepped 26R. That hole was obviously filled recently, when Jim Hall completed the roadster you’re about to see in the video above. The project started from a regular 1966 Elan, which means we’re not dealing with an authentic 26R, but judging by the amount of work it was put into the roadster, it’s safe to assume that Leno’s right by saying this is "the ultimate Elan".

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.

Press release after the jump.

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