1967 Lotus Elan S3 Drophead Coupe
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 untill 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 – 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.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1967 Lotus Elan S3 Drophead Coupe (DHC).
Correspondence on file from the Lotus Archives confirm that this Lotus Elan S3 was sold new in April 1967 in the UK in component form, This was very common ‘back in the day’, where the customer was required to complete the final assembly of the car. The cars were delivered as complete as possible, whilst still complying with tax regulations. Final assembly involved installation of the engine & gearbox, front wheel hubs, springs, shock absorbers & anti-roll bar, exhaust, wheels & tyres, battery and the radiator.
The car remained with its first owner through until 1978, when it changed hands. The Elan’s second owner used the car regularly through until 1989 when it was taken off the road. The owner undertook a complete body off restoration between 2004 and 2006. The body was removed from the chassis and completely refurbished, a new Spyder chassis was purchased and the engine was completely rebuilt. New carburettors were installed together with a new aluminium fuel tank. The interior was replaced, a new hood was installed and new seatbelts were fitted. The instruments were also replaced. Finally, the car was converted from positive to negative earth and the generator was replaced with an alternator.
Over the next few years the owner was able to thoroughly enjoy the use of his completely restored Lotus Elan. It was then placed into storage and in 2014 the car was offered for sale through Richard Edmonds Auctions in the UK but it did not sell. An MOT record from 2014 showed the car had travelled 85,294 miles. In 2015 the car was advertised for sale by The Old School Garage, Classic Car Shop in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire in the UK. The car was sold to the US and its next owner a Mr Tom Ellison from Seattle in Washington. Ellison only had the car for a short time and he used it sparingly. There is an invoice on file from January 2016 noting the odometer as 85,433 miles. This well-travelled Lotus Elan then found its way to Australia in mid-2019. There is an import approval on file dated 5th February 2019.
Whilst in the UK, the car carried the distinctive registration WAR500E.
This Lotus Elan joined a significant collection of cars with its new owner in Sydney, however, a change in his circumstances has resulted in this fabulous little car being offered for sale.
Today this is a well presented and ‘great fun to drive’ little sports car. At a length of under 3.7m and a width of just over 1.4m it is indeed a small car. In fact it looks ’right at home’ sitting alongside the microcars at Oldtimer Australia! But that’s part of its charm . . . the Elan is beautifully proportioned and it’s not trying to be anything other than an out and out sports car.
Red suits the Elan perfectly and the paint work on this car presents really well. It has a high gloss and strong depth of colour. Blemishes are hard to find. Even the front and rear bumpers, which are painted, are in very good condition. All of the panel gaps are also really good on this car. All of the chrome (including the ‘cool’ hubcaps), external trim, the lights/lenses and the glass present well. With the top off (as it always should be!) you can take in and appreciate the cockpit of the Elan. Your eye is immediately drawn to the traditional Lotus badge in the centre of the delicate steering wheel and the timber dash which are all in good condition, with the exception of a small chip on the top right hand side of the glove box lid. The seats, door cards and all of the upholstery are also in very good condition with no rips or tears. Once you open the door and slide in behind the wheel you can take it all in at a closer view. The dash, instruments and controls are in very good condition. The centre console that houses the gear lever has a few nicks and scrapes and there are a few pieces of trim with holes where somebody may have a fitted a mobile phone holder or something similar at some stage. These defects are relatively minor but they could be repaired or the trim pieces replaced to take the car to the next level again. The soft top and tonneau are in excellent condition and like new. Surprisingly they both fit really well!
There’s no doubt that a Lotus Elan is ‘cute’ but these cars are all about the drive. Once you’re snugly seated behind the steering wheel and comfortable, it is time to fire up the 1600cc Lotus engine. After priming the twin Webers the engine on this car bursts into life at the first turn of the key. The car has a raspy exhaust note that is typically Lotus. After a few minutes to warm up it’s time to hit the road. First impressions on this car are excellent. It is really tight on the road with no significant rattles or squeaks. The engine pulls strongly through the rev range and the gearbox is really good. The handling of any Lotus is a feature and this little Elan is no different. It is incredibly well balanced and handles superbly. If we’re being really picky we don’t think the brakes are as good as they should be and the solution may simply be a bleed of the system. The headlight raise/lower (vacuum) system is a known weak point on a Lotus Elan, however, it works well on this car.
Under the bonnet, the engine bay is clean and well presented. It should be noted that the spring that provides tension to hold the bonnet open is worn and should be replaced. The boot presents very well and it looks to have minimal if any use.
There is some historical documentation, an Australian Import Approval, owner’s manual, spare wheel and jack that will accompany the car.
Today the odometer reads 85,548 miles.
- a factory RHD Lotus Elan that was sold new in the UK.
- being a Type 45 S3, this car has the desirable electric rollup windows with fixed frames.
- finished in red with a black interior, this is a perfect colour combination.
- whilst this car is an older restoration, it has been used sparingly since and today it presents and drives exceptionally well.
- a new Spyder chassis was installed when the car was restored in 2006.
Don’t miss this opportunity to get into this fantastic little sports car for summer.
- Lotus Elan S3 DHC
- Drophead Coupe
- 85,548 miles