Report: Lotus Might Return to the Past With New Elan

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
report lotus might return to the past with new elan

A strange coincidence today — as exotic-obsessed auto journos took to Twitter to drool over Caterham’s latest iteration of the classic Lotus Seven roadster (and rightly so, as motoring doesn’t get any purer), Lotus itself may be planning to resurrect a famous nameplate from the past.

This model’s a little more modern than the Seven, but only just. According to sources who spoke to Autocar, the British automaker, now flush with cash from its Chinese parent, has its eye on a new Elan.

An icon of British motoring, the Elan was an instant hit when it appeared in 1962, offering a simple, curvaceous body, flip-up headlamps, and room for two. Power was sent to the rear wheels from a 1600cc four-cylinder, and the roof could be had in fixed or foldable form. The automaker soon garnered valuable exposure from the TV show The Avengers, in which sexy spy Emma Peel drove around the UK in an Elan, often while wearing tight-fitting leather.


Elan production dried up in 1975, though a second-generation appeared in the late 1980s in a similar two-seat/FR configuration. South Koreans know it best as the Kia Elan, but that’s another story.

According to the sources, there’s a strong likelihood of a third-Generation Elan, this one based on a new, rivet-bonded platform aimed at replacing the aging architecture found beneath the Elise/Exige and Evora. One more Evora will roll out of the UK before the model line goes dark, Autocar reports.

As for the possible Elan, insiders claim it sticks to the original formula, offering more room and refinement than the Elise and positioning the model as a challenger to Porsche’s Boxster. In this vein, the Elan could be seen as a rival to numerous other premium two-seaters. British pedigree, light curb weight, and the associated handling characteristics afforded by its unique platform would be key selling points.

Given that the platform could handle a number of models, Lotus brass aren’t shutting the door on reviving other classic nameplates. Those include the Europe and Esprit. As part of its 10-year product plan, Lotus is planning a wide range of vehicles; the brand’s first-ever SUV will top the range, while technology borrowed from parent Geely Motors will help modernize the company’s offerings while keeping costs down. Engines and electrification form part of this grab bag.

Recently, Lotus listed Porsche as is key rival.

As for when the Elan might arrive, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. In the meantime, expect a new Evora late next year.

[Image: Lotus Cars]

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Nov 05, 2019

    Emma Peel. Oh yes, I have a DVD of the Avengers early episodes with her. Smokin' in that Elan, even to modern eyes and sensibilities. The later this century Avengers is schlock by comparison, IMO. The original Elan weighed about 1700 pounds. The Miata is a grossly corpulent replacement for it in the absolute sense, but probably as lightweight as you can go while meeting modern safety standards.

    • See 1 previous
    • PeriSoft PeriSoft on Nov 05, 2019

      I considered getting an Elan until I saw a picture of one without its bodywork. ToddAtlasF1 is on the money - from a safety perspective it was a bit like riding side saddle on a motorcycle, except without the maneuverability. I drive a Miata in competition so I'm not exactly risk-averse, but the Elan was truly a bridge too far.

  • "Elan production dried up in 1975, though a second-generation appeared in the late 1980s in a similar two-seat/FR configuration." There's a rather significant error here...

  • CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
  • Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.