Most pretty British sports cars of the 1960s and '70s have appreciated
beyond the means of entry-level collectors


The original Lotus Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hard top was offered in 1963 and a coupe version in 1965. It was the first Lotus road car to use the now-famous steel backbone chassis with a fiberglass body. The Elan was technologically advanced, with a twin-cam 1,558-cc engine, four-wheel disc brakes, and four-wheel independent suspension. An Elan 2+2, called the Plus 2 or +2, was introduced in 1967 with a longer wheelbase and two rear seats. An estimated total of 17,000 original Elans and Plus 2s were built.

Sports Car International named the Elan number six on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s. The original Elan is commonly credited as being the design inspiration for the highly successful 1990 Mazda Miata. In fact, two Elans were intimately evaluated by Mazda in the process of designing the Miata.

This 1970 Lotus Elan Plus2 coupe is a classic example of Lotus success, excellent performance, and amazing handling. The car has been completely restored off the frame and shows its quality very well.

The engine is a 4-cylinder, DOHC unit, with cast aluminum cylinder head. The original 1,558-cc engine with twin Strombergs puts out about 108 horsepower and purrs like a kitten. The exterior is finished in a bright red with black fixed top, and both show obvious signs of a detailed and careful restoration.

The interior is restored to original in black and is in great condition, with matching black carpeting and a very rare option-power windows. The engine bay is detailed to show standard, as is the underside. The undercarriage and body are extremely solid. Overall, this Elan Plus 2 Coupe runs and drives extremely well and is ready to show or to take to any vintage event, where this car would be happily accepted.

(Introductory description courtesy of Worldwide Group.)

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2000/1962 Chevrolet Corvette C5/C1
Number Produced:248,715 C5s (54 by CRC)
Original List Price:$37,495 ($135,000)
Tune Up Cost:$500
Distributor Caps:N/A (8 ignition coils @ $72.12 each)
Engine Number Location:Pad ahead of cylinder head on right side
Club Info:Corvette Club of America, P.O. Box 9879, Bowling Green, KY 42102-9879
Alternatives:Lynx D-type, CSX4000 Cobra, Perfection Autosport Hemi Challenger Recreation
Investment Grade:C-

This 1970 Lotus Elan Plus 2 Coupe sold for $20,900 at the Worldwide Group auction in Hilton Head, South Carolina, on November 3, 2007. With beauty being a huge factor in collectibility, good examples of truly pretty British sports cars of the 1960s and ’70s have appreciated beyond the means of entry-level collectors.

The few exceptions to the rule tend to be coupes of relatively modest performance like the undeniably pretty MG B-GT and Triumph GT6. The Elan +2, however, bucks this trend, as it offers good performance and stunning looks, and still falls within the realm of affordability.

Lotus’s underappreciated stunner

In perhaps the only documented case of the 2+2 being prettier than either the two-seater coupe or the open car, Lotus produced an underappreciated stunner in the +2, a car both low and slim and with great details like two vertical vents on the fixed roof, a neat integral grille surround and bumper, and three-eared Dunlop knockoff disc wheels like a D-type Jaguar. The rear three-quarter view is especially nice, and the +2 is sexy where the roadster is toy-like. That the car is not more widely recognized as beautiful is perhaps a testament to the fact that few people have actually seen one.

On the road, the Plus 2 Coupe handled nearly as well as the Elan roadster, and the longer wheelbase gives it a better ride; extra weight made the +2 only slightly slower. Road & Track summed it up as a more practical Elan that gave up little, although the rear seats were admittedly of limited use.

This particular 1970 Lotus Elan Plus 2 Coupe was restored by a Canadian shop in 1998 and came with much photo documentation. Originally a green car, the red and black colors in my opinion don’t do the +2 any favors, as the cars tend to look better in light metallics and dark colors. In any event, the paint was done to a reasonably good standard, and the photos showed the proper attention to the backbone chassis.

The seats were reported to be original, appeared to be in the correct vinyl, and showed well enough. The polished walnut dash and Smiths gauges looked to have been professionally done to a very good standard. Strangely, the headliner was left undone, and this was jarring.

Everything works, including the headlights

The Lotus twin-cam was rebuilt by Dave Bean Engineering, a well-known Lotus expert on the West Coast. The long-time SCMer who purchased the car reports that it runs quite well and that everything works, including the headlights and power windows.

The Plus 2 Coupe could use a detail and replacement of the headliner to look fresh. The restoration was certainly done to a standard higher than original assembly, although when referring to a Lotus, that phrase has a far different meaning than when one is referring to a Porsche.

As is often the result when a good example of an unusual car crosses the block, somebody steps up and pays in excess of what the guidebooks say. Interestingly, it sold in April 2007 for $12,774 (see Comp), though I still say no harm done at this price. It’s hard to imagine any real appreciation in the future for what is still an unloved model from a marque whose production cars have yet to light any collector fires. But perhaps the car can be driven and enjoyed and disposed of with a small profit, in due course.

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