1,558 cc DOHC “Big Valve” inline four-cylinder engine, dual Zenith-Stromberg twin-choke carburetors, 126 HP at 6,000 RPM, four-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes; wheelbase: 84”
Succeeding the Elite, which was the first road car from Lotus, the Elan was introduced in 1962 and gained renown as the marque’s first practical sports car. An innovative sports car with unconventional construction, the Elan featured a fiberglass body over a folded-steel backbone-style chassis frame, adhering to Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s famous “added lightness” dictum. Powering the Elan was a tuned Ford Cortina inline four-cylinder engine converted to dual-overhead-cam configuration breathing through twin carburetors, initially developing 105 horsepower in the Elan S1 and progressively more for the S2 to S4 variants, culminating in the 126-HP “Big Valve” unit of the later-production Elan Sprint. Four-wheel disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension with precise rack-and-pinion steering were other advanced, race-derived features of the Elan.
With an ultra-light curb weight of barely more than 1,500 pounds, the Elan was a brilliant road car, and on the track, its amazing handling, braking and acceleration made it a fierce competitor with the V-8 powered Corvette in sports car racing. Likely, the North American public became most familiar with the Elan from its starring role in the popular British television show, ‘The Avengers.” Nearly 10,000 examples (9,659) of the classic Elan roadster were built through 1973, with the Elan Sprint the most-developed and final expression of the original concept. Small numbers of the Elan Sprint were sold to the United States – 150 by some estimates.
Manufactured during November 1971, this “garage find” 1972 Lotus Elan Sprint is a fascinating and extremely rare offering at auction in the United States. While dusty from storage and certainly in need of full mechanical recommissioning, if not outright restoration, it is highly complete and retains the renowned “Big Valve” Lotus/Ford Twin-Cam 1,588 cc engine, which remains complete in appearance and retains the original accessories and components. The engine bay also retains the original identification tag, showing the stamped vehicle number and hand-engraved engine number. The black vinyl-upholstered cockpit also appears complete and in good order overall, as does the black convertible top currently on the car. Numerous miscellaneous parts are stored inside the trunk lid. Last road-registered in Texas during the late 1990s, this 1972 Lotus Elan Sprint is a high-specification, late-production example and one of the few delivered to the United States when new. As such, it will provide a good basis for full restoration, conversion to a track car, or as a driver-quality example following mechanical refreshing, cleaning and detailing.
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