ELAN 1600 

The first Elan series was the 1600, though it is now more commonly referred to as the S1.

Some reckon this to be the purest form of the Elan, lacking as it does the side window frames and slightly chunkier body of the later Series 3 and 4 versions. Units A, B & C were the M2 prototype cars.

 

Unit 0001 was registered 997 NUR and given to Jim Clark; it is the red car he is sitting on the bonnet of in the iconic Lotus advert of the time. Unit 0002, registered NPN 169, was the first Elan sold to a member of the public, Mr Richard Foster. He may have been the brother of the managing director of a well-known Lotus dealer. Unit 0003 was given the registration 766 BOO and sold to Ian Scott-Watson after it had done duty as the Motor Show car on the Lotus stand. It was also used by Jim Clark. Eight of the first ten cars were fitted with 1498cc engines; these were all swapped out for the production 105 bhp 1558cc twin cam soon after they were sold, unit 0006 being the first Elan fitted with the 1600 on the production line. Lotus moulded their own bodies for these very first Elans, before they contracted Bourne of Nottingham to make Elan bodies, from unit 0008. That contract was terminated by the time unit 3400 was built.

                                                                            From unit 0039 a production hard top became                                                                                available from the factory. After unit 0048 a                                                                                    curious thing happened. 3000 numbers were                                                                                  added to the production numbers without that                                                                                  number of cars ever having been built. Thus                                                                                    what should have been unit 0049 became                                                                                        3049. There is some speculation surrounding                                                                                  why this was done by Lotus! Furthermore, there                                                                              is no record of when the first digit 3 was used by                                                                              the production line when they scribed the VIN                                                                                  onto the identification plate in the engine                                                                                          compartment. The office appeared to be using                                                                                  the first digit 3 straight away. By unit 3200 in                                                                                  autumn 1963 Elans were being exported to                                                                                      Europe and North America. There is no way of                                                                                identifying which of these early cars went where                                                                              other than by reference to the dealer, importer or                                                                        first owner name recorded in the sales order                                                                                    book. As most enthusiasts will appreciate, in the                                                                              early days of Lotus record keeping was not a key                                                                              priority!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A number of minor changes were made to various items as production progressed until the summer of 1964, when it was decided that a Series 2 should be introduced. According to Lotus 899 Elan 1600s were made. At the time of manufacture any regard to historical information which may be required in years to come was just not considered. Therefore it is almost impossible to be precise about change overs and introduction of changes for all Elans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elan S1 ½: Before the Series 2 Elan was officially unveiled to the public in November 1964, a small number of what have become known as S1 ½ Elans appeared. These cars incorporated some, but not all, of the later S2 changes. Just to further confuse matters, some of the official S2 cars were occasionally fitted with some of the old S1 specification parts. This reflects another occurring theme throughout Elan production, that habit of the factory to fit superseded parts to production cars in order that the parts bin was all used up.

Next : The Elan Series 2

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