The Lotus Elan road-test

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I have been in favour of your road-test policy, as explained in February’s edition, for many years and usually agree with your outspoken remarks concerning the antique specification and unreliability of many of our production cars. However, I feel you were a little too critical of the Lotus Elan tested last month. It is perhaps unfortunate that it should have been on test so soon after the undeniably fabulous 4.2 E-type Jaguar, but I think it rather unfair to draw comparisons with the E-type, which, after all, is more than twice the capacity and costs over £600 more.

Admittedly the Elan tends to run out of steam at over the ton, but surely the time taken to reach such a speed is absolutely shattering for a production sports car of only 1.6-litres (compare with M.G.-A and Sunbeam Alpine, etc.). The car is ideal for Britain’s inadequate roads where high cruising speeds are not often possible and the criticism of high noise is only apparent at such speeds. (Besides who wants to listen to a radio when handling a thoroughbred such as the Elan?) The Elite, incidentally, really was noisy at speed as drumming was transmitted throughout the body shell, but the Elan is relatively quiet— although one would need one hell of a clock to hear it at 60 m.p.h.! It takes very little practice to get used to the feel of the flexible universals, and I find one can drive through rush-hour traffic smoothly and without any undue strain.

You say the Elan is relatively economical on fuel; surely if you compare it with cars of similar performance it is outstanding—compare with E-type!

I have fortunately not been able to test your scepticism about the Elan in an accident, but I imagine one would have as much chance of survival as others do, since the chassis is substantial and the steering column collapsible. The door sills, incidentally, are not of normal body section, as suggested in your test, but contain a certain amount of tubular metal reinforcement. Seat belts are always available and can be rigidly fixed to chassis members.

I find the Elan exciting, safe, so far trouble-free, and my only justifiable criticism can be overcome by having black Vynide applied to the facia.

John A. Taylor – Welwyn Garden City.

[Another correspondent who was in a bad accident in an Elan confirms the strength of the backbone chassis, making it a relatively sale car in which to hit trees at high speed–Ed.]

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