This stunning example of the legendary Elan is a very rare, early Series 2 car. It is the 90th of approximately 100 produced in late 1964 as a 1965 model year, and features the higher quality 1 piece dashboard with integrated glove box of the Series 2 cars, but still sports the purest Elite-like Series 1 round taillights.
Purchased by Mark Bragen of San Jose around 1980, it would be his car for about 16 years. Towards the end of his ownership he disassemble the car in preparation for a full restoration. In 1996 the unfinished project would be given to his friend, Tom Dunham, of San Martin, CA. Over the next 8 years Dunham would completely restore the car, bumper to bumper. World-renowned David Bean Engineering of San Andreas, CA would help with the rebuild the engine, transmission and rear end. All of the other work would be meticulously completed by Dunham, and is documented with 8 years worth of receipts, as well as his written testimony on the driver's side door card.
In 2006 the beautifully completed car would move on to a long-term Lotus racer and enthusiast in Monterey, CA. The car was prepared for fast road use as well as the show lawn, and has only been driven 800 miles in the past decade.
About the Lotus Elan:
Lotus was just a decade old when the Elan launched, and still waiting for its first Formula 1 championship, and Indy 500 win. By 1962, Lotus founder Colin Chapman had been building giant-killing race cars for a decade. Like Enzo Ferrari, he went into road car production solely to keep his racing department funded.
The Elan isn't a race car, but it was undeniably built by men familiar with the form. At around 1,500 lbs, the Elan was a wisp. It was also staggeringly advanced, with four wheel disc brakes, foam filled “safety” bumpers, and independent rear suspension at a time when the average Ferrari carried rear drums, and a solid rear axle. In the early 1960s it was one of the quickest, best handling production cars money could buy.
Eager to test his ideas for the Elan's driveline and suspension, Chapman designed a Y-shaped frame in sheet steel. The result worked well on the road, weighed just 75 lbs untrimmed, and period estimates put the torsional rigidity of an Elan frame at six times that of a contemporary F1 car.
Power came from a twin-cam, iron-block 1.6 liter four. The aluminum head was designed by former BRM engineer, Harry Mundy. Harry Weslake and Cosworth's Keith Duckworth provided design tweaks resulting in 105 hp, and 6,500 rpm when mated to two twin-throat Weber carburetors. The engine was eminently tuneable, a ripper on the highway, and best when abused.
However, the Elan's true brilliance lay in its suspension. By combining remarkably soft springs, long wheel travel, a race cars geometry, and firm dampers, Chapman gave the Elan massive grip, a luxury sedan's ride, and a staggering ability to change direction. The package offered a genius cocktail of compliance, forgiveness, and feedback – Gordon Murray once said that his only disappointment with his McLaren was that he couldn't give it the perfect steering of the Elan.
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