This week we have decided to feature a video from one of most any car guy’s heroes, Jay Leno. This episode from Jay Leno’s Garage is entitled “Restoration Finished: 1966 Lotus Elan 26R”. As might be expected, it features a walk-through of the magnificent Lotus elan that Jim Hall rebuilt – this ultimate Lotus of his dreams is a tribute to one of the most wonderful eras in racing.
The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version in 1965. The two-seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite.
It was the first Lotus road car to use a steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1,600 lb (726 kg), the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. The Elan was technologically advanced with a DOHC 1557 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and 4-wheel independent suspension. Gordon Murray, who designed the spectacular McLaren F1 supercar, reportedly said that his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that he couldn’t give it the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan.
The Lotus M100 Elan, launched in August 1989, was a two-seater, convertible sports car designed by Lotus, with a reliable Japanese engine and manual transmission supplied by Isuzu, and built with the development and testing resources of General Motors. The M1100 Elan is a different story altogether from the one featured in our Video of the Week.