1965 Lotus Elan S2

1965 Lotus Elan S2
Courtesy of Bonhams

Introduced at the Earls Court Motor Show in October 1962, the Elan roadster followed the Colin Chapman principle of lightweight aerodynamic coachwork coupled with the suspension, brakes and transmission of a race car, and a remarkable new Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine to provide the power.

To put this into perspective, this was a time when disc brakes were still two years off for a Porsche, and Ferraris were fitted with a live rear axle. The attention from buyers and the motoring press was immediate, and Chapman quickly realized that a new factory was required to meet the demand. Full production did not start until May of 1963.

With 105 horsepower on tap, light in weight and endowed with exceptional road holding and handling, the Elan would prove an immense commercial success for Lotus. Slightly fewer than 9,000 were produced by the time production ceased in 1973, of which only 1,250 were S2 models.

As denoted on this car’s chassis plate, 264530 was an original North American market/U.S.-delivered car. It migrated to Canada in 1980, at which time it still wore its original brown paint scheme, albeit in need of some attention as it entered its third decade of existence. At this juncture, a comprehensive restoration was begun, and as the car was disassembled, its owner worked with the most incredible attention to detail and design, taking copious notes and design drawings, and researching each aspect while maintaining receipts for many parts acquired.

As time marched on, it would actually be some 20 years before the beautifully restored rolling chassis and superbly painted body in Lotus yellow were reunited. But ultimately, owing to its owner’s death, the car was not completed. Three years ago the Elan and all the spares and parts passed into the hands of a close friend and near neighbor, Tom Munro, a master engineer and top restoration specialist based in Victoria, Vancouver Island, who finished the project in 2015.

Close inspection of the car shows very fine attention to detail in both the fit and finish. The Lotus Yellow paint is immaculate, with no evidence of the common GRP body issues. Equally, the underside is very clean, and the suspension and brake components are well detailed. The chrome has been expertly replated and the interior refurbished properly to a very high standard. It comes with the original factory hard top, as well as soft top and tonneau cover. As well as its cosmetics, the mechanical aspects are reported to have been rebuilt and a new stainless-steel exhaust fitted. It could best be summarized as a true nut-and-bolt restoration. Further, the factory hard top is rather more than a pretty weather accessory, as it improves the aerodynamic punch through the air, and provides faster acceleration and better fuel economy.

Chapman’s Elan is recognized universally as one of the truly great sports cars of all time, and perhaps the concluding remarks of the road test report in the February 1964 issue of Car and Driver say it best: “The Elan very simply represents the sports car developed in tune with the state of the art. It comes closer than anything else on the market to providing a formula car for ordinary street use. And it fits like a Sprite, goes like a Corvette and handles like a Formula junior.”

This superb Elan is an enthusiast’s car, a driver’s car, and it is ready to deliver unique performance for rally, tour, club event or just simply as a delightful road car.

Jeff Zurschmeide

SCM Contributor

Jeff is a lifelong automobile enthusiast with a penchant for sports and racing cars. He has raced SCCA, local circle track, and stage rally as a co-driver. He makes his living as a freelance automotive journalist and is the author of six books on automotive topics. As a rule, he practices catch-and-release fishing when it comes to collectible automobiles, trying to leave each one in better condition than he found it. Enduring passions include his MGA and Austin Mini, and his 1969 Corvette. He recently purchased a 1920 Ford Model T Touring because “you just have to have one of these once in your life.”

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