A delightfully original example of a rare Elan ‘S1½’, finished in red with a black interior and soft-top. Having just over 100,000 kilometres on the clock, the car has seen very little use since being purchased in 1984 by a successful Austrian racing driver for his private collection. It’s a wonderful example of a ‘much copied but never equalled’, classic British sports car.
Launched in 1962, the Lotus Elan is an iconic reminder of Lotus sports cars, the Swinging Sixties and Colin Chapman. The Elan epitomised Chapman’s radical thinking and was technologically ahead of its time: a fibreglass body on a steel backbone chassis; a punchy, double overhead camshaft engine; independent front and rear suspension and disc brakes all round. True to Chapman’s design philosophy the car weighed a mere 726kg and its go-kart-like handling made it both fun to drive and successful on the track.
Our car is a rare example of the transition period between the Elan 1600 and the Elan S2. Sometimes referred to as an ‘Elan S1½’, the car is one of the very first S2s but retains the round rear lights and early-type sliding windows of its predecessor.
The car was delivered, new, in 1965 by the official Lotus distributor in Vienna, Austria, and still carries their dealership plaque on its dashboard. As its comprehensive history file shows, it passed through the hands of a number of enthusiasts, before being purchased by Erich Breinsberg in 1984. Erich was a well-known Austrian racing driver who had raced with teammate Niki Lauda in the Kaimann Team, competing very successfully in Formula Super Vee during the late 1960s. The Elan became part of Erich’s private collection, seeing little use but, as its condition shows, receiving a lot of care and attention.
Since buying the car from Erich in 2016 we’ve recommissioned it for everyday use: it’s been thoroughly inspected and serviced and we’ve fitted a new soft-top and tyres. A previous owner fitted wide steel wheels and had the wheel arches professionally flared to allow the car to compete on hill climbs but, although these modifications would be very easy to remove, we feel they add to the period flavour of this fabulous little car.