LOTUS ELAN S4 1970

Lotus flower Note: This text was published in La Presse in December 2002. It is about the Lotus Elan S3 1967, a generation previous to mine. Apart from a few changes, the essential remains unchanged.   Lotus: aquatic plant “producing a fruit to which the ancients attributed magical properties”. Lotus is also an English brand created in 1948 by a talented engineer by the name of Colin Chapman. Six times world champion Formula 1 in the 60s and 70s, the Lotus brand is also featured on some of the best sports cars in the world. Among the many creations of the late Chapman, there is one that, for 40 years, embodies the spirit of the sports car: the magic Lotus Elan.  What is the first word that comes to mind when talking about a sports car? Power, speed, big displacement, big tires? But for some, “sportsmanship” in the automotive field does not depend on the number of horses in the engine, but on an increasingly rare quality these days: agility. Small, light and supremely agile, these are the main attributes of the one which, in the eyes of some irreducible, has not yet had an equal. If I speak to you in such personal terms, dear readers, it is because no other car has ever given me the same sensation, the feeling of being one with the car, of feeling it as an extension of self, reacting instantly to my every move. Light and graceful, yet incisive and lightning fast, the Lotus Elan is endowed with qualities that are only present if you respect an immutable law of physics that states that the lighter the object, the easier it becomes to move and to make him change his trajectory. “Weight is the enemy of performance,” said Chapman, who has devoted his entire career to applying the principles of aeronautics to the automotive industry by designing rigid, light and aerodynamic structures. Thus on track the Elan managed to beat the pawn to more powerful cars. And if you do not believe me, talk to Claude Gagné of Embrun, near Ottawa, whose garage houses not one but six Lotus, including two Elan, a Series I 1964 and a Series III 1967. De Colin Chapman and Lotus, he will be able to talk to you for days and explain to you, with precise data, when and how Chapman revolutionized the world of Formula 1 and how his techniques are reflected in the road Lotuses that continue to influence today’s automotive designers. Admittedly, like most British cars of the time, the Elan could suffer during the “English evil”, the unreliability attributable mainly to the electric circuit, but apart from the fragility of rubber “donuts” making Rear gantry office, the Elan is a reliable car. Moreover, Claude Gagné assures us that a well restored Elan and, above all, properly maintained still provides an incomparable driving pleasure. You will not be surprised to learn that in the late 80s, the designers of a certain Mazda Miata were inspired by none other than the Lotus Elan to produce the most popular roadster of all time.