The late 1960s marked a turning point for Colin Chapman and his Lotus Company; the car racing manufacturing business had grown dramatically since he raced his Lotus Mk II for the first time in Silverstone in 1950.
Typically light and simple, the Lotus 49 of 1967, with its new Cosworth Ford DFV unit, was campaigned with great success by F1 icons Jim Clark and Graham Hill. But it was outshined by the triumphant wedge-shaped Lotus 72 of 1970, which, in the stylish black and gold John Player Special livery, took the young Emerson Fittipaldi to his first F1 World Championship in 1972.
From the tiny, poised Coventry Climax-powered Elite of 1957, Lotus road-going cars were efficient and fast, offered exceptional handling and cornering power but did not compromise on comfort and ride. The Elan Sprint coupe was one of the most desirable fast cars of its time, and time has in no way diminished its appeal. Powered by a rugged Ford-based twin-cam straight four, Elans had put on a little weight, as creature comforts such as fitted carpets and improved ventilation systems were introduced. The promising young Tony Rudd was asked to find more power from the engine. His response was the smooth, seemingly unbreakable 126-hp unit with “big valve” cylinder head. Top speed was maintained, while acceleration from 0-60 mph was a fleeting seven seconds.
The present owner acquired this Lotus in 1988. During his ownership it has seen relatively limited use, but has been attended to when necessary, and work carried out has included restoration of the chassis and engine rebuild since when it has been run in, covering a mere 1,000 miles. The paintwork and interior are in good presentable condition throughout.
Although renowned as an Achilles’ heel of the model, the electrics are reported to be good, including the windows, and electronic ignition is fitted.