View Full Version : Drove an Elan

06-21-2005, 12:09 AM
I drove a Lotus Elan today.

I went over to my friend Pete's shop to see if the crankshaft was ready for my racer (it wasn't). Anyway, when I pull in with my white Miata, I park next to a white Lotus Elan. Pete comes out, looks at the two white roadsters next to each other and says "Twins!". The original designer of the MX-5 was heavily influenced by the Elan and it's easy to see when the two are together.

Looking at the Elan, I realize how tiny and delicate it is compared to my MX-5. I had ridden in an Elan 2+2 coupe' once before, but never one of these little S2s.
"What's it like to drive?" I said.
"Do me a favor" Pete says. "I want to stay near the phone. I just tuned it up and I think it's OK. The keys are in it....take it for a spin and see if it feels OK to you? Then you'll know how it drives too."
"Ahh, OK!" I say. This isn't the first time I've driven something interesting at his shop. In the last year I've driven an MGB-GT, a wild, semi-racer 1380 Mini, a flat-rad Mog and others. Right now he's fixing a Turner that I hope to get a spin in, when it's done.

This Elan was a keen little job with 1700 cc, 16 valve, twin-cam, two big Webers, knock-off Panasport wheels and other cool stuff. It had high-lift cams and was slow under 2500 RPM but really jumped above 4000 RPM. Sort of like a Sprite on steriods. The pedals were way off for heel/toe and the brakes weren't the best either. The 4-speed shifter was OK, but not as good as the Miata or my Spridget.
But the thing really had *juice* when it came to acceleration. Much faster up to legal speeds than my "Hiroshimo Elan". This example had about 160 HP and weighed about 1400 lbs. Even with the goofy hood blister and the dorky window frames, this thing is Way Cool!
I want one.


06-22-2005, 11:52 AM
Always liked Elans! How was it compared to the +2?

06-22-2005, 10:42 PM
I didn't drive the +2; just rode in it as a passenger. I'm sure it wasn't as fast as this car, because the engine in this one was basically a race engine.
The main thing is these cars are real narrow, like a Sprite. You can easily reach beyond the passenger door. with your outstreched arm. The Miata seems like a Pontiac after driving the Elan.
I think that if you built a Sprite with a hot Ford Zetec engine, it would similar to this Elan. It gives me ideas... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/devilgrin.gif
One nice feature is that the door is cutout forward a lot, so that it's easy to get your legs into it. A Sprite door is quite short...the only thing worse is a Cobra.
I would love to take it to an autocross or track event and really wail on it. I bet it would be good.
By the way, at our first track event this year (at Summit Point, West Virgina) a guy rolled his street S2 Elan. The car has a roll bar so he was OK and the car is fixable. A weird thing with these cars is that there is almost no real metal in them. The central backbone chassis is just light-gauge sheet steel with lots of fiberglass molded to it. I'm not sure where a roll bar would even bolt in?

07-02-2005, 12:57 AM
Glad you liked it. I have basically the same setup and it does go good.

I agree about the pedals. I modified mine to space them further apart, and heel and toe are a joy, but i lost room for a dead pedal to rest my clutch foot. A good trade though..

The roll bar is a pretty complicated afair, and puts holes in the body that kind of ruin the collecter aspect of the car. Still, when you roll a fiberglass car it sounds like a wonderful investment. I wonder what was wrong with his shifter. They are always really good, short, precise and easy to move around.

The brakes are another thing. I don't like mine much either, cause I can't get them to lock up in a panic stop, so it feels like I am not getting full stopping power. I have the larger plus 2 front rotors, which are drilld, but no booster. Having now complained about all that, I must say that people who drive my car or ride as passengers when it is used in anger just can't believe how fast it hauls down from frightening speeds, and nice and straight with no fuss or drama. Maybe that's the way they are supposed to feel. I'd love to hear some more input on the brake feel on these cars for comparison.

Super 7
07-19-2005, 07:43 PM
Even a stock Elan one will outrun a Miata in acceleration or on an autocross track. I would not personally compare them to a Herald derivative, but thats just me. Rolling one on a track day sounds scarey. I wonder how that happened. Is that a Cosworth in the one you drove, or is it not Kent based at all?

07-26-2005, 07:44 AM
Even a stock Elan one will outrun a Miata in acceleration or on an autocross track. I would not personally compare them to a Herald derivative, but thats just me. Rolling one on a track day sounds scarey. I wonder how that happened. Is that a Cosworth in the one you drove, or is it not Kent based at all?

[/ QUOTE ]

The Elan that rolled hit a drop-off at the edge of the pavement. The track is brand new (Shenandoah, WV) and the grading near some of the edges had not been fully finished. Just one of those unfortunate things...bad luck.
The 1700 in this car is a Kent-based twin cam. As I understand it, the original twin cams engines in Elans are built off the Ford 1500 push rod (not a "Kent", but looks the same to me). I've heard of Cosworths being fitted and even the new Zetec. The brand-new, all-aluiminum Duratec would be even better, I think.

Super 7
07-26-2005, 07:20 PM
The 1500 is a Kent too. The thing is that Ford 4 cylinder bell housings have a common bolt pattern from 1000cc Kents in Anglias to the Zetec not including the American 2.3 liter. Even the 2000cc OHC bolts up. The Duratech is a Mazda, and its different. That said, the big Lotus 7 Clone makers are going to the Duratec. It can be easily adapted to the normal Ford based transmissions. I was wondering because you noted that it had 16 valves. Cosworth made a lot of Kent based 16 valve headed engines, like the BDA in Type R's Elan. The lotus Twin Cam is an 8 valve engine.

Its popular in England to drop a Zetec into an Anglia. Bolt in (almost; there a fire wall cut) kits are available. www.105speed.com (https://www.105speed.com) I would like to put a fuel injected Zetec into a Cortina.

07-29-2005, 03:34 AM
Actually the Duratec is an all Ford Engine, used by Mazda here in north america. It was designed in conjuction with Cosworth Engineering, and as such is a worthy successor to the old BDA's for a power upgrade. It is however quite a bit taller than even my Zetec motor, and would never fit in an Elan without a dry sump.

Weighs about 40 pounds less than even the lightest Kent engine, so there is some advantage there as well. When someone figures out a decent transmissiion for them ( the Mazda ratio's are not the best ) for swaps, they will really be interesting.

Super 7
07-29-2005, 09:16 PM
Caterham is allready mating them to the type 9 transmission, so I was told by a dealer quite a while ago. Of course that is also where I heard it was a Mazda. It would make a fantastic upgrade for a Cortina, so would a Zetec.

Thanks for the information.

07-30-2005, 02:32 AM
I could have sworn I read that the Duratech uses the Kent bellhousing flange too, the V6 included. Heck, if that’s true then the Aston Martin V12 should also.

So, if it does then you’d think a number of Ford boxes and Quaife Boxes and whatever would be adaptable.


Super 7
07-30-2005, 12:46 PM
I'll have to find out for sure. It would be cool if the Duratech bolted in.

09-17-2005, 07:41 AM
So I'm sittin' inna garage on a Saturday morn, leaned up against my S-3 Elan lurkin' about in here onna GPU (Garage Processing Unit) and I see this thread... KEWL! I've always wanted to get a photo of a Miata and an Elan side-by-each.

As for the brake feel: mine has always felt like puttin' yer foot on a rock. No heel 'n toe problems (but I have a size 7 foot), and lockin' up the brakes is not that hard to do, tho for the life of me I'd not see a reason to do it ;-}

I have owned a Lotus Cortina MkI in the past (wish now I still had it-- *sigh*) and the idea of a Duratech shoe-horned into that chassis is intrigueing to say the least. Certainly would keep the pedestrians up onna sidewalks where they belong. I've always fancied the idea of an early Escort (or did they call 'em Mexico's?) with a BDA or suchlike stuffed in it for a street car. Duratech would be perfect... with accomodation for height: likely even that chassis would need a "bulge" inna bonnet. But OH MY would ~that~ combo raise the boy-racres' eyebrows as is leapt away from their *cute* li'l nip-sleds!?! "Wot-th-****-wazzat???" BEFG!

12-15-2005, 11:45 PM
Mexico was a type of Escort.

You could always put some real horsepower in a Mk.1 Cortina....and yes, it handles very well. (See attachment link)

12-16-2005, 11:54 AM
Yes the Duratec uses the Kent bolt pattern for the bellhousing, but using a type 9 trans or one of the earlier 4 speed trans is a bit of a step back, and I would have to be worried about how well they could stand up to the power ( you can get 300 hp out of a Duratec, and much more with a turbo..)

I imagine that the mustang 4 cyl tranny and bellhousing would fit, but those ratio's bite... Mind you a few nice close ratio transmissions are available for the T5 trans users..)

I just love the V8 job.. Always a possibility, but maybe with the next Cortina.

As for the brakes, I don't need them to lock up, and I agree you wouldn't want to do that, but the thought is that if i can't lock them up, then I can't modulate them at their braking extreem. I don't know if the car could stop faster or not. It's not a big deal, the pedal is nice and hard, and with no boost it still is pretty easy to stop fast without a lot of pedal effort.

I should stop complaining.. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/driving.gif

02-03-2006, 03:04 PM
I drove a Lotus Elan today. The 4-speed shifter was OK, but not as good as the Miata or my Spridget.

[/ QUOTE ]

I'm not sure if there is any car out there that can beat a '99 5spd Miata shifter for feel, accuracy and quickness. After racing in one, every other shifter feels too slow, too sloppy and too long. My '91 is nice, but not as buttery-smooth as the '99.

02-03-2006, 06:28 PM
Yes the Duratec uses the Kent bolt pattern for the bellhousing...

I think you're confusing the Duratec with the Zetec (which does have the EnFo Kent bellhousing bolt pattern). The Duratec also requires a special bellhousing for the T5, available from https://www.quad4rods.com and Raceline.

02-05-2006, 12:05 AM
Where in Seattle are you, and what car(s) do you have?

I'm originally a Seattle guy, but my wife dragged me to Olympia!