The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version in 1965. The two-seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite.
Gordon Murray, who designed the spectacular McLaren F1 supercar, reportedly said that his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that he couldn't give it the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan.
The Lotus TwinCam engine was based on Ford Kent Pre-Crossflow 4-cylinder 1,498 cc engine, with a Harry Mundy designed 2 valve alloy chain-driven twin-cam head. The rights to this design was later purchased by Ford, who renamed it to "Lotus-Ford Twin Cam". It would go on to be used in a number of Ford and Lotus production and racing models.
An Elan +2 was introduced in 1967 with a longer wheelbase and two rear seats. The Elan +2 embodied the Lotus spirit: It was a fast and agile sport coupe. It combined the performance and reliability of the Elan "Coupe" with genuine 2+2 passenger comfort. Tested maximum power: 108-126 bhp (net) (depending on the model); top speed: 120 mph (190 km/h), 060 mph in 7.9 seconds, 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made: fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain in the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors. The Elan ceased production in 1973 and the Elan +2 in 1975, replaced by the Elite II and Lotus Eclat. An estimated total of 17,000 original Elans and Elans +2 were built. Because of its successful design and rigorous attention to cost control on the body, chassis, engine and the transmission, the Elan went on to become Lotus' first commercial success, reviving a company stretched thin by the more exotic and expensive to build Lotus Elite with fiberglass monocoque body/chassis and all-aluminium Coventry Climax engine; and enabled funding of the Lotus success in racing over the next ten years.Source: Wikipedia Lotus Elan Article