free hit
counters
Elan vs Esprit - Lotus / Motoring / Cars Chat - The Lotus Forums #ForTheOwners Jump to content


Elan vs Esprit


Recommended Posts

For those that have both - can you please share your ownership experiences and likes/dislikes of each? I know they are completely different cars.

I have been thinking of getting an Esprit, as that was one of the poster cars of my childhood, however, I've been thinking - do I really need another fast car? One that is older and wont be as accomplished as my Evora?

So then I was thinking, why not go for a slow, fun car? I previously had 2 MX5's, so was thinking of getting back into one, but then I thought, why not the original, an Elan? Or am I just up for constant maintenance issues given the age of the Elan (enjoyment derived from fixing cars is not my thing) when I'd rather be out driving (same question for the Esprit too)?

Both the G and S Esprit's I find achingly beautiful, and it would be one of those fulfill your childhood dream moments, however, I fear the drive my not live up to expectations considering I'm spoilt by the Evora. The Elan is also gorgeous and I have a sneaking suspicion it would be more fun to drive at road legal speed limits. Or am I just bonkers for even contemplating these, and just get a modern-ish car like the MX5? Or just save my cash and drive flat chat in the Evora!?

I'm opening this up as a discussion and just thinking aloud. No need to offer sage advice of "only you can decide whats best for you" or similar. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Upgrade today to remove Google ads and support TLF.
1 hour ago, Yan said:

a slow, fun car

I'm not sure any Lotus can be described as a slow car.

If the car, whatever age, is for occasional use, it will probably rack up the bills. If used regularly, maintenance costs are very reasonable. My Esprit's annual service is under £500. Mechanicals on both the Esprit and Elan are much simpler than on new cars - not electronics for one thing, so should be easier to fix. 

I wouldn't have thought that there are many current owners of both cars who can provide a comparison, although there will be people that have owned both at separate times in their car history.

I own an Esprit and Excel. The Esprit has much more presence - even parked up, and is more of an occasion to drive. I always check the oil and water before starting up. Whereas the Excel, I just jump in and start. It is a much more practical car, large boot, lovely to drive. I'd have thought that the Elan would be much more like the Excel in terms of day to day use.

I'd recommend trying the cars you are interested in - but I realise that is easier said than done, especially where you are located. You may be surprised at how accomplished both cars are.

The alternative is to get both :)

Good luck

Chris

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, ChrisJ said:

Whereas the Excel, I just jump in and start. It is a much more practical car, large boot, lovely to drive.

Agree with this much more useable than my current or previous Evora.

The other thing to consider is your age/fitness, as I get older an elan has more appeal than an esprit, but the esprit looks better, more striking, but both look great against the vast majority of cars you see on a daily basis. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure if you're referring to owning an Esprit and an M100 Elan or the 1960's version. If it's the former I have both.

As already said, the Esprit is a massive occasion to drive, looks stunning and you can see jaws drop as you drive past. Filling up with petrol needs to be planned as you can have a queue of people wanting to talk to you about the car. They drive very very well too.

The Elan is less of an event but is also very good to drive. The soft top is very easy to put up and down and it is much more of an every day car but still has the go cart feel, just a bit less so than an Esprit. Mechanically I would say that they are a bit less fiddle to maintain and parts supply are similar (Wheels and rear light clusters are very hard to find). Pop up headlights are fun too.

I tend to use the Elan as an everyday car whereas the Esprit sits in a garage most of the year. Value wise the Elan is very cheap compared to an Esprit and would make a great entry point into Lotus ownership. If you decide you want an Esprit you could always get one later, you may find that the Elan ticks all your boxes though.

Last September I did the NC500 in Scotland. I could have taken an Esprit, Elise or Elan but I chose the Elan and it was the perfect car for the trip. Short wheel base and a wheel at each corner made it ideal for twisty narrow lanes. If you buy one that has stone chips etc then you won't worry about using it and getting more which means you can just crack on and enjoy the driving. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I assumed the OP was considering the M100 elan - not the classic original.

I knew a chap who had an early elan as his daily, had a few issues and then eventually bought a Triumph Stag.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Gold FFM
1 minute ago, exeterjeep said:

I assumed the OP was considering the M100 elan - not the classic original.

I knew a chap who had an early elan as his daily, had a few issues and then eventually bought a Triumph Stag.

The Elan must have been seriously bad.

  • Haha 2

Margate Exotics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, exeterjeep said:

I assumed the OP was considering the M100 elan - not the classic original.

I knew a chap who had an early elan as his daily, had a few issues and then eventually bought a Triumph Stag.

Actually, the 60s/70s original.

TBH, I'd rather an MX5 than the M100. It'll be a very occasional car. I have an RS Clio III as a daily and a GT430 Sport Evora for go fast moods. The third car will just be for special occasions. I'm prepared for it to be off the road occasionally, but don't want it to be a pain in the butt.

I do love the Esprit looks, however I'm more into the drive rather than presence. I just sold an Audi R8. People can't stop gawking at that thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ChrisJ said:

I'm not sure any Lotus can be described as a slow car.

 

Elan relative to the Evora GT430. The Evora has almost double the power to weight ratio. But yeah, the Elan doesn't exactly hang around on twisty roads.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My brother had a big valve sprint engined Elan. It was great fun to drive. Surprisingly modern in fact, compared to the MG and Triumph offerings of the time. He actually used it quite a lot in central London for many years, where it’s diminutive size and traffic light Grand Prix acceleration were a real bonus. He then moved out to West Wales where it was also ideal roof down on the country lanes. The one downer was the moment it threw a con-rod through the block accelerating hard along the slip road onto the A14, but he invested in a rebuilt engine from one of the UK twink experts and it ran beautifully ever since.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, LotusLeftLotusRight said:

The one downer was the moment it threw a con-rod through the block accelerating hard along the slip road onto the A14, but he invested in a rebuilt engine from one of the UK twink experts and it ran beautifully ever since.

That'll be due to faulty Ford components, if only they were as reliable as Lotus 😃

  • Like 1

Cheers,

John W

http://jonwatkins.co.uk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, MPx said:

A well driven GT430 would leave it for dead.  You could get a soft top I suppose which would at least offer something different.  Classic cars are mostly about pootling about, going to shows/events and enjoying some nostalgia.  For serious no effort daily transport and proper speed anything modern is better. 

Exactly ☝

I already have a fast car, don't really need another. By special occasions I mean exactly what you said. Driving with mates to cars and coffee after a brisk trip on a country road. Fair call on the M100. Sounds like a great car, though I do have a soft spot for the NA/NB MX5. Have you ever compared your M100 vs MX5?

I'd like to pootle about for my own entertainment. Some situations the Evora is just too fast. I am leaning towards an Elan. Going sideways at slower speeds around a track sounds like the fun I'm after. I've been told the +2 130 is a better drive than the 2 seater. My nostalgia extends to the Esprit as the Elan finished production before I was born. 

I'd love both, but getting one is irresponsible enough!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, Yan said:

Have you ever compared your M100 vs MX5?

No, very limited experience of MX5 just one mate who had one of the first folding metal tops - whichever generation that was.  Was a nice enough "sports car" but didn't really float my boat, and although I sat in it for many miles, I never drove it myself.

My M100 has had most of the popular mods that get done to these cars, so its a much better drive and much faster than standard - eg at Combe I outpaced an Exige 240 cup in damp conditions.  But in some ways that defeats what you appear to be after - I've made it faster and better braked.  If faster and better braked is what you wanted then there we are again back to the GT430.  Standard M100 (well the SE/S2 anyway not sure about the NA) were widely reported in launch tests to be one of the fastest a-b cars through A and B roads.  Handling excellent and actually very easy to drive fast - one of the advantages of the FWD that lost them so much acceptance.  The standard brakes are pretty awful though - not least because they require constant maint to stop the pads sticking on the pins - so I'm not sure that would suit a no effort ownership.  Brakes aside, they're very close to modern turn the key and it works type of motoring.

My BiL had a +2 130 for a few years - lovey car in great condition, but never as well sorted as Dave's S2.  Again only ever passengered  in either.  I preferred the extra room inside of the +2 but for everything else the modded S2 was better.  What would I have thought of a std S2??? - no idea!

  • Like 1

Loving Lionel and Eleanor......missing Charlie and Sonny

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhh yes, technically true Dave, but she's not driven it since 2008 and I did the mods when it was clear it had become my toy...

Loving Lionel and Eleanor......missing Charlie and Sonny

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 09/05/2021 at 18:20, MPx said:

The standard brakes are pretty awful though - not least because they require constant maint to stop the pads sticking on the pins

I concur with all the rest you said but as for the brakes, even if I know it's a general consensus that they are bad, they actually are pretty normal. I mean, they were awful and probably dangerous when I bought the car about 9 years ago (sticking a bit and most probably air in the circuit). I refurbished them once and they worked perfectly well ever since. I don't know what you guys put on the pins (or don't put) but mines have never stick since I addressed them (probably about 8+ years ago). And the car has been driven but also it has sat in the garage on winters, etc. Maybe I am just incredibly lucky, but ...

(recently I had to change the internal seals of the rear pistons — the ones that are not documented, I should post a few photos —  but that's another problem, as I had not changed them the first time.)

Edited by Giniw
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Gold FFM

I have both an Esprit and Elan, so happy to share my 2 cents.

Although I never actually had the poster or even a model, I dreamt of an Esprit for many years before finally getting a Turbo SE. Loved it so much when it was lost in a fire I got a very similar one just 3 weeks later. It's my daily driver, modern enough to just get in and drive, stunning looks even standing still (and the original Giugaro is even prettier!) and always an occasion to drive, even on the daily commute (back when we used to do those that is).

Some years later I was offered an Elan +2S JPS and just couldn't resist. Mainly because of the black and gold, and the more I look at it, the more I appreciate the elegant lines. It's a 1973, so conserably older than my 1989 Esprit. And that shows in many ways. It's a totally different drive, even more special because of the old style controls (wiper switch on the dash instead of a stalk, to name just one). I often take it to classic car runs because it's so much fun to drive, and at a more reasonable speed than the Esprit. Much like what you're looking for. After driving the Elan, my Esprit feels heavy and sluggish the fist few miles. As well as properly fast, with double the power to weight. You'll likely get the same with your Evora. And that's a good thing, 2 cars that are very different. I found when I had more similar cars, one would get driven a lot while the other would just sit there. Which is why I'm planning my Excel, it's not as special or pretty as the Elan JPS and not as fast, involving or pretty as the Esprit SE. 

An older Turbo Esprit might be a good compromise, if (like me) you like the look. On the other hand, a open top Elan would offer an extra dimension, so would be a good bet as well. With even less weight than the +2, it must be a hoot to drive! Or if you want to get the best of both worlds, there was an Esprit St Tropez on auction recently...

Realistically, I fear you wont be spoiled for choice. So if an interesting car comes up for sale, either an Elan or Esprit, go and see it, drive it if possible and then follow your heart.

Filip

  • Like 1

I have made many mistakes in my life. Buying a multiple Lotus is not one of them.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I had a S4 Elan a looong time ago and a S2 Esprit about 10 years ago.

I had to recommission the Esprit as it had been sitting for several years before I bought it.  Once I had done that ( replaced battery, brake seals and flexible hoses, gear linkage bushes, cam belt and tensioner bearing carburetor floats and needle valves and rebuilt the headlamp motors) it was reliable and needed only planned maintenance.

My Elan did need a lot of looking after although some of the issues were there from when I bought it.  None of the issues repeated themselves once I had sorted them so a well-sorted Elan should be reliable but will need more maintenance than an Esprit as its service schedules are shorter.

As others have said, driving an Esprit is an occassion.  People love the car or at least they do in the States.  People give you the thumbs up and smile and take pictures.  My S2 wasn't quick but it handled well. had a great gearchange and was a joy to drive.  The Elan was also a joy to drive.  It always felt as though it was doing its best to help and bit like a (well-behaved) Labrador puppy.  Although it's probably not relevant to you, it was the best car I've ever driven in snow.  As long as you didn't try to brake and corner at the same time, it just when where you wanted it to, a testament to its good manners.  Don't forget that Gordon Murray tried to get the McLaren F1 to have as good a steering feel as the Elan so that shows how good a drive it is.

I guess that none of the above helps you decide but, if you want to know more about how they drive, Harry Metcalfe, who does the Harry's Garage range of YouTube videos, has an Elan and an Esprit and has dedicated episodes to each.  They were 2 of the cars of his 20-car fleet that he used over the winter.  Worth looking at to get more of an idea about them.  He also does an episode each year in which he reviews the cost of running his fleet and what work he has to do to them and the Lotuses neede very little.

I suppose what I'm saying is, try them and get the one you prefer without worrying about how difficult it will be to service.  Just get a good one.

  • Like 1

S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...