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Field of Dreams: $300 1970 Lotus Elan

Sometimes, what’s in the background is more interesting (or at least, just as interesting) as the car itself. In the case of this very sad 1970 Lotus Elan, it seems to be one of several sports cars languishing in a junkyard of dreams for anyone who’s ever pined for a slingshot import to call their own. This Elan reminds me of the very ambitious Elan project that Classic Motorsports took on a few years ago and turned into a stunning Concours-grade product. Could this Elan end up the same way? Hard to say, but for $300, a Lotus enthusiast may be sorely tempted to find out. Find the Lotus here on Facebook Marketplace in West Chester, PA.

You should really check out the Elan restoration that Classic Motorsports pulled off – see a video overview here. What’s amazing to consider is that the Elan they found had heavy damage to the rear that this car doesn’t; it’s actually a better candidate for restoration, truth be told. Regardless, this Elan will still need pretty much everything to be restored, and it doesn’t appear to come with the doors, hood, or trunk lids, along with any of the interior, the windshield frame, or the headlight buckets. Of course, the engine is gone as well, and likely the transmission, too.

Have Elans gotten to the level of desirability yet that basketcases like these will be restored by people other than those with all of the resources in-house that are needed to restore a car like this? I’m not sure. The team at Classic Motorsports obviously is set up by design to do a lot of the work themselves, and that’s to their credit. But for those of us that may have to rely on a specialist or two (or three) to get all this work done, the costs can add up fast. This Elan is certainly cheap enough that you can easily justify buying it, even if just to hold onto it while you see how difficult it is to track down the missing body panels. Did I mention I like Range Rover Classics? Because I really like Range Rover Classics.

Really, it’s incredible to see what’s scattered around this yard. There’s an Alfa Spider, a Triumph TR6, two MGBs, and a car I can’t identify in the background of this one. In the other photos, you can see a Mazda RX-7, Fiat X1/9, a W126-chassis Mercedes-Benz, and possibly a Bugeye Sprite. Whoever brought these cars in when originally scrapped clearly had an eye for which ones to hold onto, as I bet they could find a buyer for most anything in these pictures. But in the meantime, the big question is whether you would be willing to rescue this sad and forgotten Lotus Elan?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    If that frame is any good the $300 is a steal. The body doesn’t look like it has any damage and the suspension is all there. Interesting find.

    Like 10
  2. alphasud Member

    Colin Chapman’s philosophy was to add lightness to a chassis. I think his design philosophy is legendary and anyone who has driven a car with this philosophy can attest to the feel. It’s kind of hard to put into words but I would best describe it as delicate and very communicative. Almost like you are one with the car. Now drive a car that weighs a ton and a half with the same weight to horsepower ratio. Those feelings are muted somewhat even with good chassis control and tires.
    I think this car in the picture has taken that philosophy to the extreme. Time to put some weight back in like the powertrain, doors, and other important bits.

    Like 4
  3. Steveo

    Open gas cap, insert car.

    I swear I can’t understand how cars end up that way. Sure, if it was severely crash damaged, but this doesn’t not seem to be the case here.

    Like 4
    • karl

      I’m assuming one of two things – 1. , the car was stripped down for a potential restoration that never happened and was eventually junked by the family or garage where the resto was supposed to be done , or 2., the car had a major issue that made it not worth restoring and it was stripped of most everything for spare parts and the carcass junked.

  4. Richard

    I want it -It’s only original once – don’t touch it

    Like 2
  5. scott m

    That MGA coupe in the background has my attention 🤠

    Like 2
  6. Derek

    That’s been a parts car, I think. Still worth the $300; I’d stick a Mazda rotary in it.

    Like 5
  7. john raithby

    The beige car in the back of one shot is a Renault (caravelle?) also a Triumph tr2/3 in the back of another.

    Like 1
    • jwaltb

      Triumph is later than a TR2 or 3. Maybe a TR 250?
      I’m no expert.

      • jwaltb


      • taxijohn

        Yes there is a TR6 but also a rusty TR3 in the background of a couple of shots along with an MGA

        Like 2
  8. DeeBee

    Good price for a piece of yard art! Or, jack it up, and place an old Miata under it!

  9. Jack Quantrill

    Fished out of a lake?

    Like 1
  10. Howie

    I would like to test drive it first.

    Like 3
  11. Tim Suddard

    As the guy who the restoration on the Lotus for Classic Motorsports magazine, I can say that while a relatively simple car, this would be a major project. You can assume the chassis is rusty, but the chassis does have the car’s serial number on it and you could reconstruct what the car is from there. The drivetrain is the expensive part. And there does appear to be a chunk missing from the back end. Fiberglass is easy to repair, once you get the hang of it.

    Like 1
  12. gary

    it reminds me of when i found Jims Clarks original lotus elan in a scrapyard in Nottingham UK,it had a tree growing through it which i had to cut down to get it out,it got restored by another lotus fan and got sold i was told for 1/4 million quid,happy days i was just happy to save it to go on to another life.

    Like 4
  13. gary

    does it have a chassis plate!!!

  14. andy

    Am I the only one who thinks that looks like a brand new never painted shell that’s been fitted to the chassis and never completed? It’s a very odd colour if not. maybe it was a reshell project on a smashed car that stalled?

    Like 1
  15. Laurence

    Would only be worth restoring if it were one of Mrs. Peel’s two Elans. However, she left The Avengers during the 1967-68 season, so this 1970 left-hand-drive example could not have been one of her cars… Pass…

    Like 1
  16. Max Vitesse

    . . . the meaning of ‘elan’ is: … with E nergy, E nthusiasm and S tyle. Someone will have to have plenty of ‘E’ and ‘E’ before going anywhere in ”S’ . . . !

    Like 1
  17. kenn

    Well worth the price even if viewed as a basis for a kit car-type build. And karl, there is a third option: it was stolen and stripped.

    Like 2

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