The original Elan was introduced in 1962, as a replacement of sorts for the Elite, which was plagued with problems, expensive to maintain and just plain complicated for a company the size of Lotus. The Elan remained in production in one form or another until 1975, but the model that concerns us here today is the 1970 Lotus Elan Sprint. Built using the steel backbone chassis and fiberglass body, the Elan was light and agile, and equipped with a typically Lotus suspension (‘Chapman Struts’) it combined driver comfort with superlative handling and nimbleness.
The Elan Sprint was equipped with a Ford-based four-cylinder engine, with a displacement ranging from 1499cc to 1588cc. It was based on the Ford iron block, but had a special twin cam head, developed by Lotus, and delivered from 100 to 126 horsepower, depending on specifications. Needless to say, in a small car like the Elan, it made for a very fun car. 0-60 was a mere 6.7 seconds (for the bigger engine, of course), and top speed, 123 miles per hour.
Of course, the Elan Sprint wasn’t perfect; there were always lingering doubts about its reliability and build quality, but the fact that it was so fun to drive made many look the other way. With few of them having been built and even fewer surviving, the 1970 Lotus Elan Sprint is today a very collectible car.