This is one of just 115 examples of the “John Player Special” version of the Lotus Elan +2 130S/5 that were finished in the same black and gold “JPS” livery as the Lotus Formula 1 cars of the period, which were being driven by the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti.
Of all the versions of the Elan +2, the 130S/5 is generally considered to be the best thanks to the fact it’s fitted wth a highway-friendly 5-speed gearbox and the “Big Valve” version of the Lotus Twin Cam engine producing 126 bhp. This means it’s the fastest of the Elan +2s wth a top speed of over 120 mph (193 km/h) and a 0 to 60 mph time of approximately 7.7 seconds.
The Lotus Elan +2
The Lotus Elan +2 was designed with an almost impossible task laid out before it. Colin Chapman wanted to create a larger version of the legendary Elan sports car that would be capable of accommodating two adults, two children, and some luggage in the trunk.
Of course with the original two-seater Elan this would have been impossible, so a new car was designed that was 12 inches longer and seven inches wider. Now the original Elan had become a legend in its own lifetime for its exceptional handling and its remarkable steering feel – so much so that decades later Gordon Murray would be quoted as saying that his only regret with the McLaren F1 supercar was that it didn’t quite have the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan.
When it came time to design the Lotus Elan +2 Colin Chapman and his team of engineers used the same fundamental architecture as the regular Elan – a steel backbone chassis with a fiberglass body, a front mounted twin cam engine, independent suspension on all four corners, and disc brakes front and back.
Above Image: The interior of the +2 has seating for two adults up front with two small seats for children in the rear.
The design of the body was updated significantly to better suit the new car’s proportions, and unlike the two-seater Elan, the +2 would only be offered as a coupe. There are some who think the +2 is the better looking of the two early Elans, though no one can deny that both cars are beautifully styled.
Power for the new +2 would be provided by the same 1,558cc Lotus Twin Cam engine as the first Elan. This engine was based on the Ford Kent (pre-Crossflow) 4-cylinder 1,498cc engine. It included a number of modifications, the most significant of which was the Harry Mundy-designed alloy double overhead cam head. Ford would be so impressed with this engine they would later buy the rights to it and rename it the “Lotus-Ford Twin Cam.”
The reviews received by the +2 when it was released were glowing, some even preferred it to the smaller, narrower Elan two-seater. Although the regular Elan is preferred by many collectors there is a strong community of +2 aficionados in the UK, US, and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.
Interestingly, no one actually knows how many Lotus Elan +2s were built. There are a few numbers out there that rely on different sources however Lotus record keeping being what it was, it’s likely that we’ll never have a solid number – the best guesses are between 3,300 and 5,200.
The Rare John Player Special Elan +2 130S/5 Shown Here
The car you see here is arguably the most desirable of any of the +2 cars built thanks to its combination of a 5-speed gearbox, more powerful “Big Valve” Lotus Twin Cam engine, and its beautiful John Player Special livery taken from the Lotus F1 cars.
This vehicle was rediscovered recently after having been tucked away and dry stored since 2002 – almost 20 years ago. Although it remains complete the car is clearly going to need a frame-off restoration to bring it back to its former glory. The good news is that it still has its matching numbers engine, and there are a number of Lotus specialists in Britain who are more than capable of doing the work.
If you’d like to read more or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on H&H Classics, it’s due to roll across the auction block on the 26th of May and it’s being offered with no reserve.
Images courtesy of H&H Classics
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