1963 Lotus Elan S1 26R Tribute
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1963 Lotus Elan S1 26R tribute (Type 26). The car is a roadster with the optional removable hard top.
The story of this car starts when it was delivered to well-known Lotus dealer and importer Geoghegans, on Parramatta Road in Sydney in October 1963. According to the documentation on file the car was first sold to IM Haugue, most likely in very early 1965. At that time the car was cream with a black hard top and it was first registered in NSW as DHU 040. Hauge intended to use the car the way Colin Chapman envisioned his cars should be used . . . and that was on the race track. The car was entered into two races at Warwick Farm in April and May 1965, but didn’t make an appearance.
The car was then sold to Harry Cape from Tamworth, NSW around July 1965. Cape was a race car driver and over the next three years the car made various appearances at some very well-known race tracks around Australia, including Warwick Farm, Lakeside, Oran Park, Surfers Paradise and Bathurst.
In February 1967 a CAMS logbook was issued for the car. The car was raced extensively that year and it achieved some very good results. In March 1967 it finished 2nd in its class at Bathurst, it finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th a few times at Warwick Farm and Lakeside. At some stage it even held a lap record at the Surfers Paradise race track.
In 1968 the car was offered for sale and sold through Denis Geary Motors on Paramatta Road in Sydney.
The car is then understood to have been in the care of its next owner from 1968 through until 2004. Unfortunately, the car was sparingly used and later stored. It is understood that the car was not terribly well stored and as a result suffered corrosion to its metal parts and damage to the fibreglass body.
In 2004 the car was discovered by Richard Wilson from Canberra who subsequently purchased the car and started the journey of restoring this Lotus to its former glory. The body was removed from the chassis and the work began. The chassis was placed on a jig, realigned and subsequently restored. The body was stripped, some small cracks were repaired and a new gel coating was applied before the car was painted in Volkswagen ‘Flash Red’.
The engine required a complete rebuilt. This was done using Farndon conrods, CP pistons and a new steel crankshaft. To help the engine breath, dual 45DCOE Weber carburettors were fitted and the fuel was now supplied form a custom made stainless steel fuel tank. A new steel flywheel and a ceramic clutch were also added. The dry sump engine was then mated with a magnesium cased gearbox with Quaife gears. A Quaife differential was also installed. The cooling system was upgraded and the stopping power was provided by upgraded four 4 pot callipers.
The car was registered on historic vehicle registration in the ACT and it was used for some club events and casual track days before being sold in 2016. At that time the odometer read 1,430 miles. Its new owner registered the car on club registration in NSW and used on the road and the track from time to time. He is a well know racer who then decided to take this car to the next level.
In 2018 he replaced the chassis with a new 26R chassis purchased from Tony Thompson in the UK and then in 2019 the engine was rebuilt after one of the inner valve springs had broken. Everything was crack tested and it was determined the pistons and the exhaust camshaft needed to be replaced. New pistons were sourced from SPS (Special Piston Services) in Dandenong, Victoria and 2 new camshafts were sourced from Clive Cams in Ferntree Gully, Victoria. All bearings, mains, big ends and camshafts were replaced in the process. After all the work was done the compression ratio was now 11.05:1 and the engine was tuned to run on 98 octane fuel with an octane fuel booster. A new stainless steel race exhaust system was also fitted. At the time the odometer read 3,140 miles.
The end result was and still is a beast of a car!
The current owner acquired this Lotus Elan 26R tribute in February 2020 and being during COVID times was unable to use it. What he thought was a good idea at the time was perhaps just that and he has now decided that his track days are behind him. As a result, this spectacular little Lotus is reluctantly offered for sale.
Whilst the car has recently been road registered it is probably more race car than road car.
That view is reinforced inside the cabin. The driver’s seat is a Tillett carbon fibre seat and there is a five point racing harness fitted as well as a normal retractable seatbelt. The centre console shows various switches as you would expect in a race car and there is a roll bar fitted. The interior is well presented and in good condition.
Despite the Lotus Elan being a small car, it is relatively easy to find a comfortable driving position behind the wheel. It’s almost like putting on your favourite coat. You just slip in behind the steering wheel and ‘put on’ the seat.
The car is fitted with a battery isolator which is located behind the passenger seat. We turn it to the ‘on’ position, insert the key into the ignition and turn it on. We wait a few seconds before we push the starter button and then ‘boom’ the engine bursts into life with an almighty bark. It is immediately obvious this is not your ‘normal’ everyday Lotus engine. It sounds raw, but in a good way and immediately makes you want to test what this car can do.
We give the engine a little bit of time to warm up and then we press the clutch and select first gear. You immediately notice how short the gear shift is . . . a sign of some exciting things to come. Out on the road this little Lotus Elan just blows you away. From the moment you drive off you can hear the straight cut gears whining in the gearbox, just urging you to go faster. It is that sort of car. The gear changes are quick and very direct. So is the clutch, yet all in a very controlled way. The car handles, steers and stops as you would expect and whilst we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our test drive, to be fair you have to get it onto the track to really appreciate what it can do. The numbers help tell the story. The car weighs less than 700 kg and the car is currently fitted with a, to dry sump converted, engine that has been dyno’d at around 200hp. It is fast and it handles like a roller coaster!
Having extensive race history it is not unusual to find that the original engine has been replaced at some stage. The engine currently in the car is a 711M 6015 BA engine.
Today the car presents really well. Whilst you will find the odd stone chip here and there, the paintwork is in good condition. In fact, it is particularly good, considering that the car has been raced a number of times since it was repainted. The car retains its original bumpers and external trim, which are also well presented and in good condition.
The car is currently fitted with a set of Minilite wheels that suit the car really well. They are shod with medium compound Yokohama Advan A050 175/60/13 tyres, which are best suited to the track. There is another set of Minilite wheels with the car which are fitted with Falken 175/60/13 road tyres that are date stamped 1018 (week 10 2018).
Whether you choose the road or the track, this Lotus Elan S1 26R tribute is one fabulous car that will offer its new owner unlimited opportunities and great fun!
The car comes with a spare set of wheels fitted with road tyres, a stainless-steel exhaust system for road use, some spare parts, the original soft top (will need to be restored), a tonneau cover (in average condition), a good history file, an engineering report (issued in 2018) and the original CAMS vehicle log book.
- Australian delivered, factory right hand Lotus Elan S1.
- Upgraded as a Type 26R tribute.
- Documented history from new.
- Weighs around 700 kg and has been dyno’d at 200 hp at the rear wheels.
- Ready to use and enjoy.
Colin Chapman built his first car in 1948. Built on an Austin 7 chassis and with its running gear, the car was known as a Lotus Mark I. Chapman built further ‘specials’, however, it wasn’t until 1952 that Lotus Engineering was formed by Chapman and colleague Colin Dare. It was at this time that Lotus built its first production car the Lotus Mk VI. The legend was born and Lotus grew to become one of the world’s most respected and successful manufacturers of sports and racing cars. Over the years Lotus race cars claimed many victories and world championships. Their road cars used much of the technology and experience from the race cars and were equally as successful.
In the early years Chapman focussed on race cars, however, he soon realised that in order to be able to afford his racing efforts he would have to be successful in building commercial sports and touring cars. In the mid-1950’s Chapman presented his first road car – the Lotus Type 14 or Elite – which was first shown at the 1957 London Motor Car Show at Earls Court. The Elite was quite revolutionary, featuring a monocoque, fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP) body rather than a chassis. It was powered by a Coventry Climax FWE all aluminium single overhead cam 1.2 litre engine providing 75bhp. The car was very well received and ultimately very successful with just over 1,000 cars built through until 1963, however, it was not the commercial success that Chapman was hoping for. Not surprisingly the Elite was also a very successful race car, winning its class at Le Mans six times.
In 1959 Ron Hickman, who was brought into the company by Colin Chapman to further improve the troublesome GRP unibody design, started working on a new production car, the Type 26 or Elan. The initial plan was to continue to develop the fibreglass monocoque used on the Elite, however, that proved too difficult for a two-door sports car with an open top. The Elan was ultimately built with a backbone steel frame chassis and a fibreglass body.
The Elan was introduced at the 1962 London Motor Show at Earls Court and stayed in production through until 1975. The model range consisted of five different models, the Type 26 (a roadster with an optional hard top – sold as the Elan 1500, Elan 1600, and Elan S2 or Series 2), the Type 26R (a race version), the Type 36 (a fixed head coupe – sold as the Elan S3, Elan S4 and Elan Sprint), the Type 45 (a drop head coupe – sold as the Elan S3, Elan S4 and Elan Sprint) and the Type 50 (a longer wheel base 2+2 – sold as Elan +2).
The Lotus Elan is one of the most popular and successful sports cars ever built. It is not known exactly how many Elans were built; however, it is somewhere between 15,000 and 17,000 cars.
Chapman became famous for his engineering philosophy to ‘add lightness’. His cars were incredibly well engineered and always pushing the boundaries of the technology of the day
- Lotus Elan S1 26R Tribute
- 4,213 miles