The Lotus M100 Elan Factory Sales Training Manual

The concept behind the Lotus Elan is a simple one. The car should be a lightweight roadster, with a chassis that produces high levels of handling prowess and comfort. The car should be easy to drive quickly and therefore inspire confidence in the driver. Styling will be advanced, to exceed the current state of the art. The total package should be FUN and efficient, and in the end, the Elan should redefine the capability of a sports car. This is the basis of the design brief that was presented to the Lotus engineers in the early 1960's. The original Lotus Elan met these parameters brilliantly and is often described as the definitive sports car. It proved that efficiency and elegance of design can prevail over brute force in an era when brute force was the norm. As the Lotus Project M-100 evolved in the late 1980's, the engineers discovered that the new vehicle also brilliantly met the original design parameters set forth some 25 years ago. This led to the realization that the name Elan stands not for a car but for a concept or system that allows such a car to exist. Hence the introduction of the 1991 Lotus Elan. The new car epitomizes the concept to the point that reviving the proud Elan name was the only way to properly describe what started out as M-100.



The Evolution of Project M-100

Lotus cars discontinued the Elan and Europa at the end of the 1973 model year. The new emphasis was on the more upmarket cars such as the new Elite and the soon to arrive Esprit. Colin Chapman felt that the company would do better with larger, more luxurious cars. There were several people at Lotus who felt that a small affordable car that was pure fun and performance would be a good way to keep the Lotus marque popular and keep alive the Lotus version of the traditional British sports car. The uncertain financial conditions in the early 1980's did nothing, however to further these wishes. Additionally, company founder, Colin Chapman thought that the upmarket vehicles with better margins were more suitable for the Lotus style of hand manufacture. Nevertheless, the idea was kept alive over the years and went through several design studies. Projects M-90 and X-100 were developed to varying degrees, but never reached the approval stage, probably due to lack of stable financing. These vehicles were small, two seat cars that were powered by economical 4 cylinder engines from other manufacturers.


The year 1986 marked an important turning point for Group Lotus. General Motors purchased the Lotus stock throughout the year, so that by the end of the year, they were the sole owners of Group Lotus. Having General Motors as your shareholder provides a background of stability from which Lotus could develop new models and build a strong sales and marketing presence in the United States. Lotus Cars USA, Inc. was formed at this point to achieve this goal The small car concept was again forwarded and designs were submitted to the board in late 1986. Lotus Design won approval for their design, which was penned by Peter Stevens.



IN 1986

The new M-100 design was radical in several ways. Lotus Engineering had just spent the past 5 years tuning and refining chassis systems for a variety of other manufacturers. They had the opportunity to be involved in many projects that allowed them to study a wide variety of platforms, and many lessons were learned. Chassis rigidity was of paramount importance, and since the new vehicle was a roadster, they would use their experience with structures to apply some new manufacturing concepts to provide a roadster chassis that was as rigid as any coupe. Perhaps most surprising was the realization of the performance potential in front wheel drive. The ride and handling engineers found that for a given vehicle weight, power and tire size, a front wheel drive car was always faster over a given section of road. There were definite advantages in traction and controllability, and the negatives such as torque steer, bump steer, and steering kickback were not insurmountable.



The powerplant would also be a main concern. Power and response would have to be excellent. Physical size would have to be very small, and the engine would have to be mass produced in order for the car to sell in the class that Lotus wanted it fall. Lotus discussed the requirements with all of the small engine manufacturers in the world and eventually found that Isuzu was planning a small engine that nearly met all of the requirements, and Isuzu was eager to be involved. While the engine was on the drawing board, Lotus was able to insure that the dimensional requirements were satisfied. The Elan was to be quite a small car, so the engine needed to be very compact. The finished product from Isuzu was very close to what Lotus needed. Exhaust, intake plumbing, engine mounting, and ECM software were designed at Lotus to make the engine a perfect match to the chassis. The resulting car is powerful, efficient, driveable and easy to maintain. Our friends at Isuzu have made it possible for someone to own a hand built exotic sports car that can be driven every day for under $40,000, which is quite an achievement.







With all of the elements in place, The Lotus Engineering staff went to work in early 1987 completing the design and building the prototypes necessary to transform the styling buck into a real car. The Elan nearly set a record for the shortest time needed to completely engineer, construct and prove a vehicle. The project M-100 received Lotus Executive Board approval in the late fall of 1986. The first dealer demonstrators were in dealer showrooms in the UK shortly after the start of the new year in 1990, making the entire time from clay to Job-1 just slightly longer than 3 years. As is typical for most European car manufacturers, the U.S. specification car was planned for introduction the following model year.


The British press once again heralded the Elan as the epitome of the British roadster, and the Elan went on sale in the UK in late spring 1990. The US version of the Elan was introduced about a year later. There were many significant changes in the Elan before it made its way to the U.S. market. The most important is the structural changes that occurred while engineering the front chassis section to cope with the SIR (airbag). The new front section gave a significant increase in rigidity that allowed the chassis engineers to completely recalibrate the suspension settings. This Goodyear the necessary time to finish the design of the new GS-D tire, so the U.S. model was able to get 16 " wheels. As a result of the changes in the chassis, the U.S. version is actually a better riding and handling car. There were also styling changes. The interior was slightly redone to delete the accent stripes which had marginal attraction in this market. The seats were instead covered with a rich looking perforated leather. The rear quarter panels and decklid were reengineered to regain the smooth design of the original styling model. The European cars have the shut lines for the decklid on the quarter panel. U.S. cars have the shut lines for the decklid on the decklid, leaving the quarter panel free of seams. The decision was also made to import only the turbocharged version to the US market, since the price difference would not be significant enough to offset the difference in performance.









The new Elan has been tested and proven by Lotus more than any other production vehicle built by the Hethel firm. Over a two year period 19 crash cars and 42 development vehicles were built and tested. Nearly a million test miles were logged from the Artic Circle to Arizona to Pikes Peak. Thousands of miles have been covered all over Europe and around the test tracks at Lotus headquarters at Hethel in Norfolk and Lotus' Millbrook Proving Grounds in Bedfordshire. The Elan also ran 250,000 miles on Millbrook's Belgium Pave circuit. This circuit replicates the cobblestone roads in old Belgium, and these miles are the equivalent of 750,000 miles driven on normal roads. The Elan was driven at race speeds for 24 hours around the track at Snetterton. Finally each and every Elan is test driven for a distance of about 30-35 miles around the track and roads at Hethel to insure that everything is in order before the vehicle is shipped off to the US in closed containers. After preparation at the Lotus Cars USA headquarters at Lawrenceville, Georgia, the Vehicle is shipped to the dealer by Horseless Carriage in fully enclosed trucks.









The Elan-Investment in the Future

Lotus has a huge investment in the new Elan, in excess of 35 million pounds ($58 million) of which over 18 million pounds was used on new buildings, tooling, equipment and engineering facilities for the building of the new car. This is the biggest single investment in Lotus history. At the same time, this sum is a small fraction of the money that it routinely spent by car manufacturers. One of the big three would spend more for a minor model year change. This is the kind of results that are achievable when you have a few dedicated people who are allowed to exercise their talents. The Elan is not built by a company, but by individuals who are encouraged to express themselves in their work. Investment in new technology and facilities also allows Lotus to enjoy continued success in their engineering consultancy. Engineering and development projects performed for other manufacturers gives the engineering group a broad base of experience, but designing a Lotus gives the team the opportunity to distill all of the lessons into one pure design. This is when Lotus can set new standards and push back the barriers of compromise.






Lotus has had to insure an easy adjustment for personnel and resources to enjoy the planned increase in production. It has been over 15 years since the Hethel company has produced over 2000 cars per year. Lotus production reached the 3000 car level during 1991. The production area in Hethel has been increased from 85,737 sq ft to a huge 290,635 sq ft over the past few years. A number of buildings have been remodelled as well. These include a new high rise unit for warehousing of all components for the manufacturing of the Elan. The building is located adjacent to the manufacturing building, minimizing transportation delays. This also allows Lotus to stock minimum levels of parts, nearly eliminating delays for slow or late shipments of components. Also a new building has been constructed for the manufacture of all parts and tools required for the new VARI process. Now, all new VARI tooling can be made at Hethel. There have been many more changes at Hethel. Engineering has constructed many new test areas and have recently finished their new semi-anechoic chamber which will contribute to their industry leading position in the research of noise control. The Group Lotus property is hardly recognizeable to one who has not been there in the past few years.



The Elan Chassis-Backbone and Perimeter Frame

The goal was to produce a rigid platform that was light and could be produced in numbers. Lotus used the classic backbone chassis design with some new developments and designed an extremely stiff platform for the new suspension.


There is a deep central backbone that as in previous Lotus practice runs down the center of the chassis separating the passenger compartment into two passenger cells. The backbone chassis in the Elan is made of an octagonal cross section versus the box of the Esprit. This gives a stiffer structure and allows the chassis to have a lower profile, thus maximizing passenger space. The front section consists of two longitudinal members called longerons that join with a front transverse section that provides a strong box that holds the drivetrain and front suspension. The drivetrain is bolted securely to this front section and acts as a semi stressed member that adds rigidity to the chassis. The front transverse section mounts a special aluminum honeycomb structure that provides crash strength and assists in the functioning of the airbag. This front sub-assembly containing the drivetrain and front suspension bolts to the front of the main backbone section and can be removed easily to facilitate servicing and repair. The rear section of the chassis consists of two "winged" brackets that mount the upper end of the coil over shock units.


All steel parts are "E" coated (powder coating) and box sections wax injected for maximum anti-corrosion protection. The Elan chassis is warranted from corrosion for a period of 5 years.


All Lotus chassis designs since the early Elan use the backbone chassis and composite bodies as partners in generating the necessary rigidity. Since the Elan was to be an open car, and new suspension designs and tires require such a stiff platform for best performance, it was necessary for the engineers to come up with some new techniques to get the desired stiffness. Production and styling factors required that the body's external parts be non structural. This allows the stylists to easily change the exterior shape of the vehicle, without changing the basic structural design. This also allows the body parts to be made in smaller pieces, therefore giving better control of waste during production. The Esprit's body is molded in two major pieces, which is more time consuming and harder to handle. If one part of the body has a flaw, then the entire body half must be discarded. This potential waste was not feasible with Elan production volumes.


The structural part of the Elan body consists of a large floor molding, which is VARI constructed and is 3mm thick. This molding incorporates the A and B pillars, the rear wheel arches and the trunk pan. The perimeter frame consists of several pieces of 18 gage sheet steel that are formed into a box sections and then bonded and riveted to the floor molding. This creates an outrigger style box frame that stiffens the floor molding, and provides a good mounting point for the chassis, seats and seat belts. The A and B pillars also receive the steel support sections. The A pillars are connected by the bottom member of the windshield frame, and the B pillars are connected by a brace that crosses the car under the convertible top stowage well. This upper frame is finally connected by the door impact beams. The windscreen pillar is cast of high-strength aluminum and bolts directly to the tops of the A-pillars. This assembly is strong enough to support the weight of the car in the event of a roll over.


The resulting hybrid composite-steel-aluminum chassis is very rigid torsionally. Stiffness measures at 6600 lbs-ft per degree. This specification is extremely high for a open car and serves for a very stable and rigid platform. The Lotus engineers now have the rigid platform that they need to make their new generation suspension work properly.


The following diagrams show the construction of the Elan body and chassis. Note the shaded areas on the first diagram which show the steel parts that are bonded and riveted onto the floor molding. The second diagram clearly shows the perimeter frame and how it is tied together.





The Elan Suspension  

A front wheel drive configuration was chosen because of the clear performance advantage. Lotus Engineering has been involved in the design and tuning of suspension systems of all kinds. Their experience has shown them that a front wheel drive design is always faster over a given course if you compare two chassis with the same weight, power and tires. The advantages are traction and controllability. The weight is mainly over the wheels that drive and steer, making the existing performance very accessible and predictable. The disadvantages are torque steer, bump steer, steering kickback and road harshness. These bad habits are accentuated by high power output, which is a definite requirement for a Lotus. Lotus felt certain that they had the elements of a new design that would solve all of the challenges that front drive presented and provide a true Lotus feel on the road.


The Interactive Wishbone with Compliance Raft

Roger Becker, John Miles and Jerry Booen developed a new, patented "interactive wishbone" suspension system to meet the ride and handling demands of the new Elan. It provides the ultimate in handling, comfortable ride, good isolation from vibration, and eliminates the torque and bump steer that plagues other front drive designs.


The key to the system is the compliance raft, a vertical sub-assembly that mounts to the front chassis member. The front wishbones in turn mount to the raft. The suspension is a full double wishbone design that effectively eliminates the power induced caster changes that cause torque steer. Since the upper and lower wishbones move as a pair. the steering axis angle (caster) remains constant and the car is not steered in that direction. Nearly all front drive suspensions use a McPherson strut suspension that poorly maintains caster under power. As the right front wheel (usually the driven wheel) pulls the suspension forward under power, there is an increase in caster angle because of the necessary play in the suspension bushings. The only way to control this in that type of system is to use unreasonably stiff suspension bushings, which sacrifice ride quality and compliance. The Elan interactive wishbone design controls the critical suspension settings allowing the car to track faithfully under all conditions. The wishbone to raft bushings are quite firm and these assist in keeping the alignment true. The raft to chassis bushings are very compliant in certain directions, which allows for good road isolation and excellent bump compliance. Thus, camber, caster and toe are carefully controlled by the bushings that are stiff in these planes of movement while bump compliance is provided by the same bushings that are soft and will allow the whole assembly to move rearward and upwards in the case of a sharp bump.







Bump steer is controlled to maximize stability in transitions, turn-in and under braking. All steering components are carefully placed in order to give the suspension the proper input as it moves up and down throughout its range. On bump there is a slight amount of toe-out and on re-bound, toe-in is induced. Additionally, in the front the hub spindle is offset slightly rearward of the steering axis. This results in better stability under braking. The driveshafts are equal length for proper torque distribution and alignment control.


The front suspension is supported with a coil spring over shock that is mounted to the lower wishbone. The driveshaft passes through an opening in the bottom of the shock assembly. An anti-roll bar is also mounted to the lower wishbone.


All Elans have power assisted steering. Various Ackermann values were evaluated. 60% Ackermann geometry is used, providing the best compromise between high Ackermann values that give good front tire adhesion on tight turns at the expense of stability on sweeping corners versus smaller Ackermann values that give better high speed stability with the inevitable tire scrub and loss of adhesion on slow speed corners.


The Rear Suspension

The rear suspension design is a wide based lower wishbone and upper lateral arm, concentric coil spring over shock absorber and solid anti-roll bar.


Camber at both ends of the Elan are precisely controlled. To optimize stablity, Lotus chose to create the same camber curve for both front and rear. Thus, at all roll angles both the front and rear tires maintain very similar camber characteristics. This provides a consistent tire contact patch between the front and rear, and makes the car very predictable and progressive at the limits of adhesion.


Further, the suspension geometry at both front and rear are designed to give nearly constant roll center heights, relative to the chassis, irrespective of the Elan's roll angle. The resultant is a very progressive feel and behavior when under hard cornering.


Lotus designed into the front suspension roughly 10% anti-dive and small amount of anti-lift into the rear suspension. The US version has this anti-lift factor modified in order to reduce the pitching movements associated with heaved freeway slabs.




Brakes and Tires 

Brakes are hydraulically activated discs at all four wheels. Brake boost is by vacuum servo. The front brakes are 10" ventilated discs and the rear brakes are 7.3" solid discs. The parking brake mechanically activates the rear brakes.


The Elan uses state of the art Goodyear GS-D tires, 205/45 ZR 16, mounted upon cast alloy 7 x 16" wheels manufactured by OZ Racing in Italy. Lotus chassis engineers in conjunction with Goodyear tire engineers developed the Goodyear GS-D tires especially for the Lotus Elan. The GS-D series tire is destined to be the start of the next generation of high performance street tire. Goodyear uses a new method of spiral winding the carcass fibers to produce a carcass with a more oval cross section. This gives the tire a much more progressive feel at the limits of adhesion. Goodyear also uses a patented compound, SIBR that gives an unprecedented block stiffness and much better combined dry/wet performance. The tread design is uni-directional, with very wide axial grooves to resist hydroplaning.





Engine and Transmission

The Elan uses an turbocharged and chargecooled engine. Jointly developed by Lotus and Isuzu, the critical criteria in the development of the engine were power output, fuel efficiency, and a concern for keeping the physical size to a minimum. As such the engine and tranmission unit is extremely compact. The drivetrain is located transversely up front. This allows for maximum passenger and luggage space within the confines of a short car. The steeply slanting windscreen minimizes buffeting. The engine and transmission are manufactured by Isuzu in Japan.


Displacement is 1588 cc, 4 valves per cylinder, cast iron block, 5 main bearings, with an alloy aluminum pent roof head. The double overhead cams are belt driven and operate the valves through hydraulic lifters. Bore is 80mm and stroke is 79mm making the engine just slightly under square. The compression ratio is 8.2 to 1.


1588 CC


The turbo is supplied by IHI and is water cooled. Maximum boost is 9.4 psi or 0.65 bar. The intake charge is cooled via an air to air chargecooler located in the left side of the front valance. The engine cooling system has a side circuit with an electrically driven coolant pump that operates on a timer for a short time after the engine is stopped. This pump circulates engine coolant through the turbo bearing housing and cools the bearing after engine shutdown in order to maximize turbo life. As in all turbocharged engines, the user should let the vehicle idle for a minute before shutdown. This allows the turbo to slow to idle so that it stops spinning when the engine is stopped. To the right side of the valance is the engine oil cooler and at center are the air conditioning condenser and engine cooling radiator.


The engine uses Delco electronic control module (ECM) and a Delco electronic distributor-less ignition, which were developed to Lotus specifications. Fuel injection is electronic multi-port. The electronic control module (ECM) monitors temperature, mass air flow, throttle opening, and cylinder detonation through a knock sensor and controls boost, ignition timing and fuel injection quantity.


The ECM also controls the staged intake system which has separate intake runners for each intake valve. At low engine speeds half of the intake runners are progressively masked by butterfly valves. This effectively increases the velocity of air/fuel charge promoting better efficiency, increased torque and better response. As the engine speed builds these butterflies open to allow flow through all intake runners to allow maximum gas flow. Lotus first used this system on the Chevrolet LT-5 engine used in the Corvette ZR-1.


The results are 162 bhp at 6600 rpm, 148 lbs-ft of torque at 4200 rpm, with a redline of 7000 rpm. Lotus has again exceeded the old benchmark of 100 bhp/liter, with the Elan engine giving 102 bhp/liter.


162 BHP



Emission control is through a 3 way catalyst and oxygen sensor, and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The Elan requires unleaded premium fuel, 97 RON. The fuel tank is fitted on the left side under the convertible top storage well and holds 12.4 US gallons.


The engine is mated to 5 speed gearbox. Coupling the gearbox to the engine is a 8.9 inch single plate diaphragm clutch. Clutch operation is by cable. The final drive is 3.833 to 1 resulting a 137 mph top speed. First gear is 3.333 to 1; second, 1.916; third, 1.333; fourth, 1.027; fifth, 0.829. The shifter is a short throw cable operated unit designed specifically for the Elan.


The engine in the Elan has some significant differences from the versions used in the Isuzu models. The exhaust system is specific to the Elan. The intake plumbing has been re-routed for better thermodynamic efficiency in the chargecooler. The engine suspension system uses a shock and lever arrangement that cancels the primary engine vibrations and a torque arm from the back of the engine to the chassis that transmits engine torque that would normally be lost by the compliant engine mountings. The most important modifications are the refinements that Lotus made to the ECM software. The Lotus engine develops torque at a lower rpm and has much better boost response.


The Elan Body - New Generation VARI

Lotus made some important improvements to their patented VARI (Vacuum Assisted Resin Injection) process to adapt it for Elan construction. This was required due to the greater anticipated volume, and the necessity to meet a target retail price. The Elan would never be able to have the laborious hand finishing that the Esprit gets. While Elan production could never be called mass production, it is faster than the Esprit.


The Elan is constructed using a number of smaller pieces, each formed by VARI. The use of smaller panels, versus the double bath tub of the Excel and Esprit, allows for greater accuracy and consistency in production. The smaller panels are easier to handle, thus allowing for fewer rejects.


The VARI process has been further developed for the Elan using Lotus' new patented "Fibreform" technique. The process was developed by Lotus Engineering to expedite the molding process by decreasing mold turn around time by providing preformed fiber sections that self locate inside the VARI tooling. The Fibreform proceedure allows Lotus to design panels with relatively sharp edges. Previous resin technology dictates wide radius edges on the finished part in order to avoid cracking along the edge after curing. This problem created styling limitations for the designers as they could not put too sharp an edge on any body panel.


Lotus also enhanced their production molds by electro-plating the mold surfaces with several thousandths of an inch of pure nickel. The nickel creates a harder and smoother surface. This gives much greater tooling life, which is important with the increased volumes for the Elan. The finished parts also come out of the mold with a much more even exterior finish. As a result, the part can be trimmed, primed and painted without the time consuming filling and blocking that is necessary on most composite parts.


Molding time is additionally decreased by using molds that are heated with hot water. Each tool has heating pipes imbedded into it. The mold heating allows for a very rapid cure using the advanced resins. All of these VARI enhancements decrease mold turn around to about 1 hour. The complete process goes as follows: Wipe down the mold to clean it, spray mold release agent and surface coating material onto the outer piece, lay the pre-formed fiber mat in place, seal the mold and apply vacuum and hot water, start the machine that mixes and injects the resin, allow the part 20 minutes to cure and then remove the finished part and start again! Lotus Engineering is advancing the state of manufacturing high quality composite parts to the point that they will soon be manufactured in nearly the same time as a metal part.





Crucial to the fit and finish of the Elan's body panels is the dimensional stability of each body panel. This is logical as panels with varying sizes can not provide a repeatable product in production. In the late 1970's, Lotus used a paint in mold process that used non-shrinking resin during the curing process to maintain dimensional stablity. However such non-shrink resins require curing temperatures of 300‘F. Such temperatures are not compatible with the VARI process and higher production volumes. Hence what was needed was a low temperature resin that could be molded at much lower temperatures in the range of 125 to 130‘F. Lotus uses a resin developed for them by Ashland Chemicals of Columbus, Ohio. There is virtually no shrinkage during the curing of the Elan panels, and the curing process proceeds well at reasonable temperatures.




130‘ F

All non-load bearing, cosmetic, outer body panels are 2 mm thick. Load bearing panels, such as bulkheads, bumper attachments, undertray and door inner panels are thicker to withstand the rigors of their use and enhance structural performance.



Lotus has also made considerable investment into the machinery necessary to cut and trim the new high quality body parts. The largest investment in this area was used for two Fanuc computer directed robots that cut the body components for the new car. These robots use a 55,000 psi water jet to trim body panels and cut necessary openings. Parts which previously took 70 minutes to shape by hand now can be done in 10 minutes with tolerances approaching 0.5mm. This new area also houses the jigs for bonding components and structures with the new adhesive technology developed by Lotus Engineering for the new Elan.


The paint shop has been fitted with a new "gun-finish" manual spraying system designed to increase the quality of the finish for all Lotus cars. The Elan is painted with two part urethane paint identical to that used on the Esprit. The Elan does not receive the clear coats, except on metallic finishes.


The panels are fixed together using an elastomeric modulus polyurethane adhesive. These were found to be the best for the needs of Lotus after evaluation of a number of expoxies, acrylics and urethanes.


All Elans use RRIM bumpers, front and rear. RRIM is a flexible thermoset urethane compound that is reinforced with glassfiber. These bumpers can deform and regain their shape in the event of a small impact. US spec cars incorporate energy absorbing construction techniques and have a front bumper that is 2.5" longer in front. This extra space contains an aluminum honeycomb structure that reinforces the front of the car and provides the necessary deceleration forces to trigger the SIR (airbag) system. US spec cars also have side marker lamps that are recessed into the bumpers.




The air dam is incorporated into the front bumper, housing air intake for intercooler, radiator, air-conditioning condenser and front brakes.


Door hinges are non-conventional, due to the shape of Elan's outer door panel. A unique design was developed that allows the front edge of the doors to swing to the outside of the front fender panel.



The passenger compartment is divided into a driver and passenger area by the backbone tunnel. The driver sits facing a pod like binnacle designed to allow excellent sight lines to all instruments and easy reach to all switch gear. On the steering column are directional indicators, headlamp flashers and dimmer, wiper (intermittent and 2 speeds) and windscreen washer. Panel controls include a rotary switch for running lights and headlamps, an instrument light dimmer, single push on/off switches for hazard lights and the a/c compressor and finally a combined control panel for air conditioning and heating. On the center console are controls for window lifts (electric), door mirrors (electrically controlled and heated) and a storage bin.


The instruments are all anolog. A black background is used with red graphics and pointers. The speedo reads to 170 mph, the engine rev counter to 8000 rpm. These gauges on the main panel are supplemented by fuel level and water temperature. To the right of the main panel are separate gauges for system voltage, engine oil pressure and turbo boost. Also on the main central panel is a digital clock.


11 warning lights are arranged along the bottom of the main panel. They indicate directionals, low oil pressure, low fuel, low windscreen washer fluid, headlights on, stop lamp failure, ignition warning, charging system failure, engine check warning, seat belt warning, parking brake engagement and brake failure. Two interior lights are located beneath the rearview mirror. These can be operated with independent switches on the mirror body or activated by opening the door. The door locks are electrically powered.




The top is operated manually. It is constructed of a 3 layer black fabric with a cotton lining. It is stowed in a ventilated compartment behind the rear seats under a flush fitting lid. When raised the top locks onto the windscreen head rail with a pair of over-center latches. Located in the "B" pillar are release handles for the top stowage lid on right and fuel filler door on left. This eliminates excessive exposure to traffic if raising or lower top at roadside. The boot (trunk) is opened using a key only for added security.




The driver can tailor his seating position using the stepless reclining seat backs on seats providing generous fore and aft movement. The seats are finished in perforated leather. All US spec Elans come with an AM/FM cassette 4 speaker sound system that features a removable head unit that is compatible with remote multi CD players. The Lotus dealer may offer these remote disk units as an option.




The only option on US spec Elans is metallic paint. All US spec Elans are equiped with driver's side air bag.


Peter Stevens original design was developed by Colin Spooner, the interior was developed by Simon Cox. Aerodynamically the Elan is quite clean for an open top car. Full scale wind tunnel tests on the production car indicate a Cd of .34 with the top up. The Cd rises slightly to .38 with the top down, still and excellent figure for a roadster. The Elan generates 20 lbs of lift in front and 44 lb of lift at the rear at 120 mph. These figures demonstrate the aerodynamic stability of the new Elan.


Built In Safety

All Lotus vehicles posess what we call Active Safety. The superior vehicle dynamics and responsive handling, acceleration, and braking inherent in any Lotus offers the driver the control and confidence to avoid many problem situations.



The advanced composite body with its monocoque backbone chassis and steel perimeter frame provides exceptional protection against passenger cell deformation. The composite bodywork localizes the damage from any impact and eliminates the twisting forses that cause vehicles to radically deform and possibly injure the occupants. The aluminum windshield frame offers roll over protection. Each passenger is protected with a three point retractable seat belt system that is securely fixed to the chassis through the perimeter frame.




The driver is offered the additional protection of a Supplemental Inflatable Restraint (air bag). Lotus is the only ultra low volume car manufacturer that uses airbags in their vehicles.


Elan Specifications


Wheelbase 88.6"

Track, Front 58.5"

Track, Rear 58.5"

Overall Length 152.4"

Overall Width (excl mirrors) 68.3"

Overall Width (incl mirrors) 74.3"

Overall Height (top up) 48.4"

Ground Clearance 5.1"

Fuel Tank Capacity 12.3 gal

Trunk Capacity 6.5 cu. ft.

Curb Weight 2249lb

Weight Distribution F/R 62%/38%

Cd. (top up) 0.34

Cd. (top down) 0.38



Front Suspension

Upper Wishbone

Lower Wishbone

Concentric Coil Spring Over Shocks

Anti-Roll Bar

Rear Suspension

Lower Wishbone

Upper Lateral Arm

Concentric Coil Spring Over Shock

Anti-Roll Bar

Steering Rack and Pinion

2.9 turns lock to lock

Turning Circle 35 ft

Brakes, Front 10"/256mm diameter Ventilated Disc

Brakes, Rear 9.3"/236mm diameter Solid Disc; Mechnical Parking Brake


Wheels 7.00Jx16, O.Z. Cast Aluminum Alloy

Tires Goodyear GS-D 205/45ZR16

Spare Tire Space Saver T105/70R



Type 4 cylinder

16 valves, DOHC

Cast Iron block

Aluminum Alloy Head

Displacement 1588cc/96.9

Bore 80mm/3.15"

Stroke 79mm/3.11"

Compression Ratio 8.2:1

Power 162 bhp at 6500 rpm

Torque 148 ft-lb at 4200 rpm

Fuel Injection Delco

Ignition Delco Distributorless Ignition

Turbocharger IHI Water-cooled

Intercooler Air to Air

Maximum Boost 9.4 psi/0.65 bar

Oil Cooler 24 rows



Fuel Requirement 97 RON unleaded

Consumption, City 26.2 mpg

Steady 56 mph 42.2 mpg

Steady 75 mph 31.8 mpg



Transmission 5 speed manual

Ratios Ratio mph/1000 rpm

First 3.333 5.20

Second 1.916 9.04

Third 1.333 12.99

Fourth 1.027 16.86

Fifth 0.829 20.89

Reverse 3.583

Final 3.833


Clutch 8.86"/225mm Single Dry Plate Diaphram Clutch



Maximum Speed 137 mph / 220 kph

0-60 mph 6.7 seconds

Standing 1/4 mile 15.4 seconds

EPA Fuel Estimates

City 24 MPG

Highway 31 MPG




A Service _ Change engine oil and filter

_ Check brake pads for wear

_ Check clutch adjustment

_ Check engine coolant, transaxle oil, and brake fluid

_ Check tires for wear and inflation


B Service _ Change air filter

_ Change engine oil and filter

_ Check brake pads for wear

_ Check clutch adjustment

_ Check engine and timing belt tension

_ Check engine coolant, and transaxle oil

_ Check front and rear suspension

_ Check lights

_ Check tires for wear and inflation

_ Check wheel alignment and steering


C Service _ Change air filter

_ Change engine oil and renew filter

_ Change sparkplugs

_ Change transaxle oil

_ Repack rear wheel bearings

_ Check and adjustment

_ Check brake pads for wear

_ Check engine coolant, and brake fluid

_ Check engine management system

_ Check engine timing belt tension

_ Check front & rear suspension

_ Check lights

_ Check tires for wear and inflation

_ Check wheel alignment and steering


Special _ Renew timing belt (60,000 miles)


Service Intervals


6000 mi






















B Service





Note: Oil chage intervals should be decreased to 3000 miles under hard use or extreme conditions.


Note: Elans DO NOT require the 1500 mile service as does the Esprit


Break-In: Limit engine speed to 4500 rpm for first 500 miles. Avoid prolonged periods at idle.



Please consult the Lotus Owner's Handbook for a complete list of the required service and maintenance schedule. This listing is only a partial listing of required service and maintenance.