Video: Jay Leno Reviews A 1966 Lotus Elan 26R
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".