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...

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.