One of the grounding principles of Retropower, is that everything has potential, and as such we’re only too happy to work on anything, providing it features an internal combustion engine of some variety. That being said, there are certain cars we’d all love to have a chance at giving the Retropower treatment, and the Lotus Elan is right at the very top, fluttering ever so slightly in a stiff breeze.
It really isn’t hard to see why the Elan has long occupied a special place for those of us at Retropower, not to mention its place within the wider automotive world. Lightweight, beautifully ‘sprung’ and styled with a delicate balance absent from almost all modern cars, the Elan is nothing less than the distillation of Colin Chapman’s fabled mantra; simplify, then add lightness.
You could argue that our base for this project, a brand new 26R fibreglass shell and steel chassis from Tony Thompson Racing, is plenty light enough already – we were able to lift the whole assembly up and move about with just two members of staff, though one could’ve done the job without any fear of back damage. Featherlight doesn’t seem quite enough to accurately describe it, frankly.
We will be going against Chapman’s wishes slightly, albeit in a manner we feel the great man would’ve appreciated, namely our plan to fit the Elan with a 2.7l Series 2 Millington Diamond, the 500th example made by Roy Millington and co. It’ll be mounted to a Sadev sequential gearbox just like our Chevette HSR rally car, while the ‘back-end’ will be independently sprung via the Colin’s own ‘Chapman Strut’ arrangement, a configuration we’ve comparable experience of from the Murray Mk1 Escort.
This car is being built as a dedicated track car from the get-go, and as such we’ve the luxury of doing away with such fripperies as heating, a windscreen or even doors. It’s going to be raw, raucous and, if we have our way, more than a little ballistic.