By on November 5, 2019

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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13 Comments on “Report: Lotus Might Return to the Past With New Elan...”

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay


    • 0 avatar

      I believe you are correct Art. I remember reading a review of the Europa and I immediately wanted to own one. The review posited that due to the cars great handling it was actually a safer vehicle as a result. Seen a few in the wild which only made me want one more. Alas, it never came to be.

  • avatar

    I’m on my last years of enjoying my old Elan. It just keeps getting harder to get in and out of it. Not to mention I’m enjoying being comfortable more. Not to mention I’ve had to retire it early this season, to replace the fuel tank and replace some other worn out parts.

    • 0 avatar
      cimarron typeR

      Fred, hats off to you. Maybe you can step into something more luxurious like a Miata:) .
      I just hoped the next Lotus’ are still designed and built in England. Regardless, this is much more exciting than electric crossover news that dominate the auto news cycle.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      Stick with the Elan Fred.
      My Europa is needy mistress as are most Lotus’ but it gives me joy when I look at it and brings back sweet memories every time I slide into it.
      A Lotus does not have to used very much to give pleasure.

  • avatar

    “As for the possible Elan, insiders claim it sticks to the original formula”

    Fifty bucks says it’s actually a compact CUV with a big chrome grille and a 2.0T.

  • avatar
    Mc Lean

    Well and good, I’ll stick to my 1997 model. Well, it’s a Miata actually.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      The Elan had just enough structure for you to be crushed against it by whatever hit you. Simplify, and kill drivers.

      Diana Rigg was amazing in, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” back when Bond audiences weren’t confused.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    “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…

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