Simplify, but add luxury: Colin Chapman’s Lotus Elan +2 for sale | CAR Magazine

Simplify, but add luxury: Colin Chapman’s Lotus Elan +2 for sale

Published: 27 January 2023 Updated: 27 January 2023

► Chance to buy a piece of Lotus history
► Previously driven by company founder
► Low mileage, factory condition, original tyres (!)

Readers of CAR will need no introduction to Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus cars and a man whose ‘simplify, then add lightness’ mantra continues to resonate with enthusiasts of all stripes today. So when one Chapman’s personal Lotus cars comes up for auction, well, this is a change to own an amazing piece of automotive history – at what is potentially a relatively bargain price.

For the car in question is a Lotus Elan +2, which though quite clearly wonderful, perhaps doesn’t rank among the most obviously desirable – and therefore valuable – vehicles the firm has produced.

Don’t get us wrong: this ex-Chapman Lotus is still estimated to fetch £60,000-£70,000 when it goes under the hammer at the Silverstone Auctions sale at Stoneleigh Park on 25 February 2023. Which is no small change. But just think about what an ex-Enzo Ferrari might fetch and tell us this doesn’t sound like good value.

How certain is it that this is an ex-Colin Chapman Lotus Elan +2?

The car in question, registration JAH 567L, is an Elan +2 S130/5, which according to Simon Langston of Silverstone Auctions was ‘manufactured by Lotus Cars in September 1972 and allocated to the Sales Department on the 9th of October 1972 for the personal use of ACBC, Colin Chapman.’

ACBC here standing for Chapman’s full name, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman.

Colin Chapman sat here - and the winning bidder will be able to as well. Steering wheel, dashboard and front seats of the Lotus founder's personal Elan +2

Langston goes on to explain: ‘The car was used by Colin until it had done around 6,600 miles at which point he would have been allocated a newer model as you might expect.’ Then, however, rather than being sold on, the car went into the Lotus museum where it stayed for several years before finally being cleared out to a private collector.

As a result, it’s covered just 6,920 miles from new.

Further proof that this was Chapman’s personal car comes from the original V5 in the history file, and a Lotus Classic Certificate of Vehicle Provenance issued by the company archivist, Andy Graham, in November 2017.

Does it need recommissioning?

You might think so from the mileage, but as well ‘presenting very well’ and appearing to ‘have been maintained in its original factory state’ – which includes Tawny paint with a Silver roof and Oatmeal vinyl interior – the auction listing also says ‘we understand that it’s ‘on the key’ and is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner.’

Interested buyers are encouraged to make their own inspection on the auction viewing day, but it seems like quite the piece of history.

Ex-Colin Chapman Lotus Elan +2, Tawny paint gleaming in the sunlight, rear view

It’s even wearing what’s believed to be the original set of Dunlop SP tyres, which is considered ‘a rare find’. We’d probably recommend getting yourself a set of extra wheels and some new rubber if you do fancy using it on the road, though – those Dunlops are over 50 years old at this point, and probably sub-optimal for road holding.

Is there anything else special about the Elan +2 in general?

An evolution but from a simple variant of the original Elan sports car, the +2 was the first Lotus not available as a self-assembly kit.

It also represented the firm’s first efforts to move slightly upmarket, being presented as a kind of junior executive chariot, intended to tempt buyers out of contemporary Jaguars. As such, it was a little more generously appointed inside than previous models.

Ex-Colin Chapman Lotus Elan +2, Oatmeal vinyl seat upholstery, said to be as it left the factory

Based on a lengthened and widened version of the standard Elan’s clever backbone chassis, it was still comparatively light and immediate versus the more established competition, representing something new in the segment as a result.

In other words, the Elan +2 is one of the turning points in the company’s history and, considering that, arguably a little overlooked by collectors. Or at least, that’s what Silverstone Auctions would have us believe.

Are there any other significant Lotuses in this auction?

This ex-Chapman +2 is one of eight Elans from the Piddington Lotus Collection that are being put up for sale at the same time.

Gathered together by a former Cosworth engineer called Deryck Norville, many of these Piddington Elans have a celebrity connection. Also being auctioned is a 1963 S3 Drophead linked Emma Peel, a 1969 model linked to Jochen Rindt, and another 1966 S3 formerly owned by Peter Sellers.

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first