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Rare Brit: 1971 Lotus Elan +2 Coupe

For many people, the words “Lotus Elan” evoke images of a classic British 2-seater convertible sports car. One of the more unusual and rarer versions of the Elan was the +2 Fixed-Head Coupe, which was first released in 1967. Where the original Elan was designed to cater for the single person, or at most, a couple, Lotus realized that they were missing out on a significant segment of the new car market. They, therefore, developed and released a new version of the Elan called the Elan +2, which was capable of seating two adults, along with two children. This particular Elan +2 rolled off the Lotus line in 1971 and is located in Cleveland, Ohio. It is listed for sale here on eBay, where bidding has now reached $5,100 in a No Reserve auction.

Finished in Regency Red with a Grey top, it isn’t hard to see how some of the dimensions of the car have been increased to cater for the additional two seating positions. To my mind, this has had a negative impact on the simple and elegant styling of the original Elan, but it does serve a practical purpose. The Elan is said to be free of any rust issues, and certainly, the photos of the car’s underside show it to be a solid looking vehicle. The paint is looking tired and has bubbled in a few spots. I suspect that the Elan has undergone a repaint at some point in its life, and it may well be that the preparation work for this was not completed to the highest standard. I think that the next owner should be prepared to undertake a reasonable amount of sanding and stripping before the car is ready for a fresh coat of paint. As far as the exterior trim and chrome are concerned, the majority of it looks to be in pretty reasonable condition. However, the rear bumper has been painted silver. This will either require replacement, or it will need to be stripped and sent off to the plater for a fresh coat of chrome.

By and large, the interior of the Elan doesn’t actually look to be too bad, but there are a few issues to consider. Some of the chrome surrounds on the gauges are showing signs of pitting, although this isn’t too bad. The timber veneer on the edge of the glove compartment lid has split away, and a strip of this is missing. This will present a bigger problem, as finding matching veneer is going to potentially be a problem. If the next owner is seeking perfection, then they may be faced with replacing at least the lid, or in a worst-case scenario, the entire dash fascia. The carpet looks good, but the upholstery on the door trims has become a bit stretched. I do think that this might be able to be pulled back into shape without requiring replacement.

This is what the Elan +2 was all about. An additional pair of seats added a new level of versatility to the car. While it is a good concept, it is worth remembering that those seats were really only designed for small children. I’d be willing to bet that if you stuck a teenager in there, then you would have your ears filled with howls of protest. There simply isn’t much in the way of leg-room back there.

As with its normal Elan siblings, the engine that powered the +2 is the 1,558cc Lotus twin-cam engine, which produces 118hp. In this case, the power is sent to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. While some suspension components were upgraded over the standard Elan items to cope with the additional weight of the +2, the majority proved to be capable of handling the extra load with no obvious issues. This +2 is said to essentially be in decent mechanical health, with only a few items to be addressed. The clutch is a bit soft, and it will require a new slave cylinder. The owner says that the brakes are also tight, and he suggests that this is probably due to the fact that the car has been sitting for an extended period. He does say that he thinks that a brake rebuild might be on the cards. Otherwise, the car is said to run and drive.

This is a car that will undoubtedly polarize people. Some will like it, while some will compare it unfavorably with a standard Elan. What can’t ever be questioned is the relative rarity of the Elan +2. When this car rolled off the production line, record-keeping at Lotus was not all that it could be, and some records have been lost over the years. The best estimate is that there may have been somewhere between 3,000 and 5,500 examples of the Elan +2 built. What isn’t in any doubt is that there are less than 1,200 of these cars left across the entire globe. That makes this a relatively rare car, and if you have a young family and have always wanted a classic British sports car, then this one might make that wish come true.


  1. misterlou Member


    Got bid up to $12K and change back in early July and “sold”.
    Got bid up to $14,950 in mid July.


    Like 5
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Bumprs on the Elans are painted silver. Looks like the front was painted with rattle can chrome paint. Tried that on one of our race cars and it faded to flat silver in a couple of weeks. If it’s there click on picture to see front view.

    Like 1
  3. scottymac

    Weren’t the bumpers fiberglass, as well as the bodies? (“The Elan is said to be free of any rust issues”?????) Chassis rot, sure, but aren’t galvanized replacements available? Always loved these, had a mini-Ferrari look to me.

    Like 0
  4. Steve

    Bumpers were metal on these cars. Modern chassis are available from Spydercars in the UK. I had a 69 and always thought these were better looking than the two seat Elan.


    Like 0
  5. Tricky

    Probably the nicest of the early Lotus’. They did have issues with water ingress though – bad sealing around the windscreens and boot, but this looks a nice example and would make a good daily!

    Like 0
  6. bog

    I wonder if one of my, now older, buddies from Germany bought this one as a “good memories” car. $ 8200 selling price. We young, single Officers had “money to burn”, and there were at least 6 Elans, an equal number of Alfas, and a bunch of BL cars along with American muscle cars and a few Porsches, XKEs etc. Saturday and Sunday during good weather had a big contingent of guys working on, and cleaning, their rides for “date night”. Or touring to local Gasthaus’. Lots of friendly banter about whose cars were better. We each got a grand total of 400 liters of gas per month in our ration books, so some of us with big V8s bought tiny second cars for getting around town. The Elan “club” always looked happy, that’s for sure !

    Like 0

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