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The all-fiberglass Lotus Elite of 1957 was a stunning first achievement for Lotus Cars and its founder Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman. Quick, composed, and extraordinarily light, the Elite was also expensive to build and maintain. In 1962, Lotus Cars replaced the Elite with the Elan, simplifying the fiberglass-body design and sourcing more mass-production parts to cut costs.
The 105-hp iron-block 1558 cc twin-cam engine and 4-speed gearbox were based on the Ford Cortina model. A rigid steel backbone chassis carried the fiberglass body and some running gear was supplied by Triumph and Girling. In 1966, Lotus introduced the Series 3 (S3) Elan and added a fixed-head Coupe model and an S/E package (Special Equipment). The S/E models included a 115-hp high-lift cam version of the 1558 cc engine, a taller 3.55:1 rear axle ratio that resulted in a 120-mp top speed with better fuel economy, new body trim, knock off wheels with radial tires, seat belts, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and a 'dipping' rear-view mirror. Lotus built a total of 12,220 Elan models, dubbed by journalists as the "finest wine in a plastic bottle". Production on the Lotus Elan model ended in 1973.
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