Cheap 1967 Lotus Elan Project

We appreciate Robert Thomas bringing this lightweight 1967 Lotus Elan to our attention. The car is located in El Cajon, California and can be seen here on craigslist. Since the car is a roller and will need a complete restoration, the seller is asking $5,950. Being a California car, this Lotus looks like a good candidate for restoration.

The seller states that the interior will need to be restored which is a little bit of an understatement. I am not sure how hard it is to get parts for such a unique car as this but it will need a passenger seat, original steering wheel and a lot of the damaged trim. The car has been off the road since 1986. The car was reportedly owned by the prior owner for quite some time and is now being sold by a dealer.

The original 1,588 cc engine and manual gear box come with the car but they are not installed. This twin cam 4 cylinder engine produced 105 horsepower at 5,500 RPMs. While this doesn’t sound like much, the car only weighed 1,500 pounds because the body was made of fiberglass. The 0-60 times of the 1967 Lotus Elan was just under 8 seconds and the quarter mile could be reached in 16 seconds.

I have always thought the Mazda Miata was extremely similar in its design to the Lotus Elan which was produced from 1962-1973. The steering and road handling of these cars is said to be amazing. So who has owned one of these cars and can tell us more?


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  1. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    Supposedly the Miata design was based on the Lotus Elan. My understanding about parts for this is that they are extremely hard to locate, particularly for trim pieces. I’d assume that the engine and drivetrain would be easier for which to find parts. However, they may need to be sourced from the UK. Fiberglass body, I believe. Lotus’ are known for frame rot. I believe that Mike and Edd had to replace a frame on one of their Lotus projects.

    Like 5
  2. Jasper

    Drove one years ago. Felt like I was gonna break it, but it had outstanding reflexes. Pretty rough. Negotiate a better price if the frame is ok and kinda outlaw it. Cool wheels already and the flares don’t ruin my day. Maybe even tidy things up, go through the drivetrain and leave the outside the way it is…for a while. Aren’t the cylinder heads on these funky and expensive if they need anything?

    Like 1
  3. Elanguy

    Amazing cars to drive, and parts are pretty easy to get from several US and several more British sources. Listing has been deleted though. Could be a pretty good deal depending on condition and completeness.

    Like 4
  4. John

    I think you can repair steering wheels if it’s just the plastic that’s bad.

    Like 2
  5. racer417

    Parts are easily available for Elans. Lots of suppliers (US and UK). Plus an active enthusiast community in the US. Obviously lots of work needed to get the body back to stock though.

    Like 3
  6. John

    Finding parts is easy if you don’t have to have Genuine Lotus parts (if there ever was such a thing). Many if not most of the parts for this car are shared with other makes. I’m sure that the owner’s clubs have extensive cross references. Bring money. The individual parts were inexpensive, but numerous.

    The car was wonderful to drive and handled like pointing a finger. It was fragile, but much better than its earlier cousin the Elite. I was the second owner of one back in the early 70s. Its first owner had more money than sense and seldom put its top up, even in the rain. Most of the parts I bought were interior trim pieces.

    I had loads of fun with it. It looks very similar to the early Miata till you get them side by side. The Lotus is about 25% smaller. A normal sized man (5′ 11″ 180 lbs, 32 inch inseam – like I USED to be) would stick up out of the car like a giant Teddy Bear in a kiddy car. They were simple to maintain. The only specialized tool needed was a large checkbook. Mine had Webers DCOE38s as I remember. They were bulletproof. The only troublesome part was the water pump. It went out every 25K miles, or whenever you were in the high desert, whichever came first. I loved mine but I quickly outgrew it. I sold it to a guy who loved it more than I did (he still has it). I look back at it fondly, but I really don’t miss it. After I sold it, I bought a 73 Europa S. It was so nice to have the extra room.

    Like 1
  7. steven M Sammut Member

    its no longer on CL so it might very well be sold.

  8. bone

    I always think of Emma Peel when ever one of these cars come up !

    Like 2
  9. James A Wattwood Member

    One of the major Miata inspirations. Check out the Elan build at Jay Leno garage for the ultimate Elan build. All parts available, very few are expensive. Someone called out the head and that is indeed one of the expensive bits. Very elegant simple cars. Thinly disguised sports racers. Giant killers in the right hands. Have owned one for 40 years while other sports cars came and went. Still my personal favorite….by a lot. BTW the displacement is actually 1558cc, but who is counting.

  10. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Finding original “Lotus” parts….sort of hilarious.

    Lotus couldn’t find them most times as they kept raiding the parts bins of other manufacturers of their “extras”. They certainly did not contract to have many things made.

    Not a lot of special doodads on a Lotus so your lucky. Most likely anything you retrofit likely to last longer than the original.

    Like 1
  11. chrlsful

    & now they use toyota engines, but who cares. They are quite an experience. I think they could be a business model on how to survive…something the USAers need bout now.
    Do they have 4 markees? The idea is to do what U do best, fit that to the longer term market, modify w/major/longer term changes (a la the toy motor & 4 markees). Each is a lill different. Its been awhile since i studied them but lets compare them to GM (but small, light on their feet, so easy to controls, redirect – like the car) They have a chevy, buick and caddy – but each is a lill different in size and canyon carving ability, motor’ pep. Each can B customized to ur specs too…quick synopsis, poor analogy~

    Like 1

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