Tue, 21st Feb 2006 0:00

The Centaur

  Lot 48
Lot 48 - 1965 Lotus Elan S3 Prototype

1965 Lotus Elan S3 Prototype

Sold for £24,750

(including buyers premium)

Lot details
Registration No: LNK120C
Chassis No: 26/4915
Mot Expiry: Feb 2007

The Earls Court Motor Show was a good place to be in 1962 if you were a Sportscar enthusiast. While Ford's new Cortina and BMC's 1100 were hogging the saloon car limelight, Ferrari were grabbing their fair share of appreciative gasps with the GTO version of the 250 GT. Likewise the AC stand was besieged by visitors wanting to see just how the huge 260bhp Ford V8 had been squeezed into the Ace to produce the Cobra. Triumph had the Herald derived Spitfire and the MGA replacement, the MGB, was being shown for the first time at a few pence under £950. Maserati were showing their new Sebring model; Ogle caught a lot of attention with their Scimitar forerunning Daimler SX250 and Jensen had the CV8 on sale at a mighty £3,392. TVR were making their first appearance at a motor show majoring on the squat and powerful Grantura while Rover had the revised 3-litre Saloon that had been turned into a very attractive coupe.
So really there was plenty happening 44 years ago and we haven't mentioned one of the most sensational cars to hit the roads for that and almost any other decade. The Lotus Elan.
Thanks, in part to the tremendous success on the race track from Formula One, Lotus had a very high profile for such a small manufacturer and to a certain extent this accounts for the huge attention directed towards this kit car. The Elite and the Seven were steadily selling from their specially built factory in Chesham but in small numbers and although the customer racing cars division was churning out cars at a healthy rate as well the companies financial position was still parlous. What Lotus desperately needed was a new car that would have a wider appeal - a car that could be made simply, cheaply and profitably and one that would sell in much greater numbers than any Lotus hither to.
From a Chapman idea, worked and re-worked by the talented engineers by which 'the Boss' surrounded himself, the Elan gradually came into being and although it appeared in September 1962 to the public the first example was not actually delivered until May 1963. Although dearer than its competitors, the MGB, TR4, Sprite or Mini Cooper, it had a remarkably advanced specification which included a twin-cam engine, all disc brakes, all independent suspension, rigid back bone chassis and all wrapped up in a sleek aerodynamic body with retractable headlamps - what other car you all of that and coupled to which, as the first road test proved, the Elan didn't just look good on paper, it handled like it was on rails.
We are very pleased today to offer what is possibly the most significant 'baby' Elan coupe in existence as it is the original prototype model documented by numerous books and press releases of the period. Originally launched to move the already established Lotus Elan upmarket it had various features not previously seen including electric windows, full carpeting, a full length boot lid (to alleviate the standard water leaks of the previous two models) to name but a few.
Having a fixed head body brought improved levels of comfort and refinement to the marque. The body shell was moulded some time during early 1965 and was an ongoing development process right up until its formal launch to the press in September of that year. Lotus cars intended to offer customers the option of chrome plated bumpers and wheels but proved far too expensive and impractical and so was withdrawn shortly after the official launch. After being used for photography during the launch LNK120C served as a factory demonstrator for a time and was used by Lotus sales director Graham Arnold to visit numerous dealers throughout the UK and overseas. He clocked up some 50,000 miles during one year therefore easily providing convincing evidence for the European dealers as to how reliable the Elan could be given the correct maintenance.
Finished in Medici Blue with the black interior, it is in what can only be described as concours condition throughout having been completely restored by the previous owner and enthusiast Nick Blunsden at a cost of some £35,000. This work was finished in 2002 since when it has not turned a wheel, apart from going to the MOT stations for an updated MOT certificate and has been kept in a totally dehumidified storage conditions. It is a significant part of the Lotus story but is an eminently usable car as well. Its investment potential is safe in the knowledge that it appears in all the books and obviously all of those that have the Graham Arnold signature to them and it has an undisputed provenance.
A sensational piece of history and in sensational condition. One for the connoisseur.

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