Complete Lotus Elan lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1989 Lotus Elan II (M100) - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1989 - 1996 Lotus Elan CabrioletElan II (M100)3 Trims 132 to 167 Hp

The Lotus Elan is a nameplate used and applied by the British carmaker Lotus Cars for its two separate lineups of cars. The original run of these automobiles, which had rear-wheel drive, was manufactured between 1962 and 1975. The second generation, which was front-wheel drive, was manufactured from 1989 until 1995.

History of the Lotus Elan

Lotus Elan 1500, 1600, S2, S1,S3, S4, Sprint (1962–1973)

For the first time, a Lotus road car with a fiberglass body and a steel frame was produced: the Lotus Elan. There would be no change to the chassis design of future Lotus cars for almost 30 years. Ron Hickman, who became wealthy after designing the Black & Decker Workmate, was responsible for the design of the initial phases of the automobile and the very first Lotus Europa as part of Lotus' proposal for the GT40 program. The Elan was Lotus' first commercial success and a major factor in supporting the company's racing exploits over the next decade. This was made possible by its innovative design and strict attention to cost control across the board, including the body, chassis, engine, and transmission. In 1962, the first Elan 1500 roadster was released. A larger engine and a new name—Elan 1600—followed the car's brief run of 22 units. A hardtop was available as an extra feature. The Elan S2 debuted in 1964, succeeding the Elan 1600 from the previous year. As per John Bolster's The Lotus Elan and Europa: A Collector's Guide, the total number of Lotus Elans ever made is 12,224.

Elan +2 (1967–1975)

With a longer wheelbase, longer track, and two compact back seats, the Elan +2 was released in 1967 for families with young children. The Elan was a two-seater sports car aimed at young professionals and couples, while the +2 was aimed at middle-class families with children. Although production of the original Elan was halted in 1973, the Elan +2 was still being manufactured as late as 1975. The Elan +2 looked similar to the standard Elan, except for the extra space needed to accommodate two additional seats. Lotus Cars preserved the basic structure of a tubular steel frame supporting a fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) body and a Ford UK-derived powertrain. The +2S, a more plush variant of the Elan +2, debuted in 1968. After receiving the Big Valve engine update in 1971, the +2S model was renamed the +2S 130. A 5-speed gearbox based on the Austin Maxi was installed in later variants of the +2S 130, giving it the +2S 130/5 designation and vastly improving its top speed.

Elan (M100) (1989–1995)

When GM bought Lotus in 1986, they had the resources to create a new tiny, cheap car in the same vein as the first Elan. A few years earlier, a prototype called the M90 (renamed the X100) was constructed with a fiberglass body designed by Oliver Winterbottom and a 1.6L engine and transmission provided by Toyota.
After 14 years, the Lotus M100 series Elan was released in August 1989, restoring the Elan nameplate. It was a front-wheel-drive, two-seater convertible sports car developed in-house by Lotus, powered by an Isuzu engine and equipped with a manual gearbox. It was tested using GM's engineering and quality assurance infrastructure.


For the model years between 1990 and 1994, Lotus Cars retailed the Lotus Elan (M100) with a starting MSRP of £17,850 for the base model, rising to £19,850 for the top-of-the-line Elan SE Turbo.

  • Elan 1.6L - £17,850 (£41,961 or $48,194 in 2022)
  • Elan SE Turbo - £19,850 (£46,663 or $53,596 in 2022)


Exterior Features

The Elan's wedge-like shape was reminiscent of its older sibling, the Esprit. The car's pop-up headlamps gave it a sleek, modern appearance, and its retractable top added to the impression of sportiness and elegance. The compact British roadster's overall look was rounded out by its big rear taillights and incorporated wing.

Interior Features

Lotus equipped the interior with two bucket seats that also serve as headrests. It upset some enthusiasts that the dashboard's curving lines evoked a Japanese aesthetic. However, the design was convenient, with rounded shapes that reflected the intended uses.

Specs and Performance of the Lotus Elan


  • 1,588 cc Isuzu 4XE1 I4 (petrol)
  • 1,588 cc Isuzu 4XE1-MT turbo I4 (petrol)
  • 1,793 cc Kia T8D Hi-Sprint I4 (petrol)

The Lotus Elan's 1.6L engine delivers 154 hp (115 kW) at 6,600 rpm and 146 lb-ft (198 Nm) at 4,200 rpm of torque. Lotus Cars marketed the Elan as a front-wheel-drive (FWD) vehicle, and it was available with a 5-speed manual transmission. The Lotus Elan accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 kph) in 6.8 seconds, with a top speed of 139 mph (223 kph). Dimension-wise, the Lotus Elan measures 3,870 mm (152.2 in) long, 1,734 mm (68.3 in) wide, and 1,230–1,240 mm (48.4–48.8 in) high. Its wheelbase measures 2,250 mm (88.6 in) and has a curb weight of 2,198 lbs (997 kg).

Release Date

Lotus Cars released the Lotus Elan in two separate ranges of model years: rear-wheel-drive configurations between 1962 and 1975 and a lineup of front-wheel-drive cars from 1989 to 1995.