The Silverstone Classic Sale 2017

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1970 Lotus Elan Sprint DHC

Lot No.: 426

Registration: FYN 924J
Chassis Number: 7006140170G
Engine Number: N22519
Number of cylinders: 4
CC: 1558
Year of Manufacture: 1970
Sold for (£): 47,250

In 1962 Lotus launched a legend, the new and ground-breaking Lotus Elan.  Following on from the Elite, the new car offered improved handling and better performance.  Below the bonnet sat a new 1558cc, twin-cam four-cylinder engine which would become a legend in its own right, powering other classic Lotus models including, of course, the Cortina sporting saloons.

The desirable Elan ‘Sprint' was officially introduced in 1971 and was the ultimate incarnation. It justified its name thanks to a substantial increase in power to 126bhp resulting from the adoption of a big-valve head with high-lift cams, a raised compression ratio and (initially) Weber 40 DCOE 31s. The drivetrain was suitably toughened and braced and the front callipers were redesigned to cope with the increased performance.  

In the time between the public announcement of the Sprint at the 1970 October Earls Court Motor Show and the official launch of the car in February 1971, there was frantic activity at the factory.  With the motoring public clamouring for the more powerful Elan, the decision was made to convert a small number of 'SE' S4s to Sprint specification at the factory. From the VIN records it appears there was no logical order to the selection of which S4 cars were converted and in March 1992, the then Lotus archivist, Michael Pomfret, claimed that just 79 S4s were converted to Sprint specification in early 1971, the last on 27th March.  These factory-converted cars, known colloquially in Lotus circles as ‘S4/Sprints’, often retained the bonnet bulge from the S4.  Today, the cars from this select group are much sought-after due to their rarity and pioneering role in the story of the ultimate Elan.   

According to its accompanying Lotus Certificate of Vehicle Provenance, the car presented here was only the 8th example of an S4 to be factory-converted to Sprint specification.  It was built in June 1970, receiving its upgrade shortly after, before being sold through Hammonds & Oakwood Ltd. of Beckenham.  In the car’s history file, there is its original green VE.60 Registration Book plus a letter from the Lotus Archive Department, which combine to tell us it was bought by a Mr E Watters of Penshurst on the 6th April 1971, being first registered on the 22nd April 1971.  The car is believed to have been enjoyed by only one more owner, before being acquired in circa 1996 by a senior Lotus technician at renowned Lotus specialists Paul Matty Sports Cars.  During the next 18 years of his ownership, the car was used regularly but maintained to a very good standard.  

Our vendor bought the car in 2014, with a corresponding invoice from Paul Matty Sports Cars Ltd. documenting the chassis and engine numbers as per the Certificate of Vehicle Provenance and current V5C.  Impressed by the car’s pedigree, our vendor thought it worthy of a complete restoration, and this was duly commenced, taking almost three years and costing in excess of £30,000, as supported by many invoices.  As is not uncommon with Elans, the original chassis – found to still have its chalked-on chassis number intact – was past saving, and an invoice in the file confirms that a genuine galvanised Lotus replacement chassis has now been fitted.  All elements of the car have been cleaned, renewed and reassembled and where this wasn’t possible, items were replaced with genuine new parts including a new fuel tank.  The engine and gearbox were stripped down and found to be in very good condition, before being professionally refreshed and serviced.  The bodywork was restored and finished in its original colour scheme of Carnival Red / Cirrus White, made famous as the livery of the 'Gold Leaf Team Lotus' Formula One cars of the late 1960s and 1970s.  A new fabric hood was fitted along with a set of new carpets and new trim. The overall result, as can be seen from the photographs, is amazing. The little Lotus is so pretty that you wouldn't know whether to drive it or hang it on the kitchen wall!

The car is accompanied by the history file containing invoices from the rebuild, a photographic record of the work, original Registration Book and spare keys.  

Quite rightly, the Lotus Elan is today regarded as one of the finest British sports cars of all time and the Sprint is, perhaps, the ultimate model. This immaculate example is an S4/Sprint convertible, possibly the rarest of all.