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1967 LOTUS ELAN BRM

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  • 1967 Lotus Elan BRM
  • One of only c10 Elan BRMs sold by Mike Spence Ltd
  • Fully restored in 2010-2011 by marque specialist
  • Extensive history file and known ownership from new
YEAR1967
MAKELotus
PRICE£60,000

VEHICLE DESCRIPTION

Even in standard form, the Lotus Elan is renowned as being a high-water mark in sports car history, but this particular example is even more special thanks to its status as one of the ultra-rare Elan BRM models.

It’s thought that only about 10 of these were sold in period, and this is car number 006. It was delivered in kit form to its first owner – RJ Hayhurst – in August 1967 and registered 11 TE. Bob Hayhurst was a keen racer and used the Elan BRM in numerous events around the north of England, including the Baitings Dam hillclimb.

He kept the Lotus until 1987, when he sold it to his nephew, Mike Gregson, who re-registered it KBV 787F. With Gregson being based overseas, the car spent a long time in storage during his ownership, and when it was acquired by a new owner in 2010, they decided to embark on a full restoration.

The rebuild was carried out by Lotus specialists Ken and Neil Myers, with the remit being to retain as much of the car’s impressive originality as possible. The respray was done by Alan Rigarisford, who was in charge of the Mike Spence Ltd paint shop in 1967 and would have painted the Elan when it was new! 

Such was the painstaking nature of the work that the colour was matched against a can of the original Dockers paint, and checked against an ex-Mike Spence BRM Formula 1 car. 

The restoration is fully documented in a photo book that accompanies the Elan BRM. It notes that the car features the standard gearbox rather than the optional close-ratio unit, but that it has the optional 3.55 differential. It also states that, when corrosion was discovered on the steel backbone chassis, the decision was taken to replace it with an original Lotus-built chassis that was supplied by Tony Hills of Kelvedon Lotus.

Once restored, the Elan BRM was displayed at the famous Donington Collection between August 2011 and the museum’s closure in 2018, with the car’s owner regularly visiting in order to drive the car and stay on top of its maintenance. More recent work has included the fitment of a New Old Stock steering rack, new driveshaft couplings, and a suspension overhaul that was carried out by Neil Myers. 

This Lotus Elan BRM is now being offered for sale with an exceptional history file that includes the book of service vouchers, the owner’s handbook, and period documents from Mike Spence Ltd that include specification options and price lists. Not only does it look highly evocative in BRM colours, it also drives superbly – fully justifying the Elan’s reputation for peerless handling and sounding great thanks to the throaty bark from its Twin Cam engine.

MODEL HISTORY

When it was launched in 1962, the Elan was crucial for Lotus. The outgoing Elite had been a critical success but a financial failure, and it could ill-afford to repeat that experience. 

The lightweight ethos championed by founder Colin Chapman would be retained, but whereas the Elite used a glassfibre monocoque, the Elan featured a steel backbone chassis. Onto this was mounted a GRP body, while beneath the bonnet there was a Ford-based Twin Cam engine that was originally 1498cc, but which would be enlarged to 1558cc during 1963.

There was independent suspension all round, disc brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering, and when Autocar tested an early Elan it commented on the car’s ‘almost uncanny cornering power’.

The Elan remained in production until 1973, developments along the way including the 115bhp SE model, the 126bhp Sprint, the addition of a fixed-head coupé, and a Plus 2 model that featured a larger body and rear seats.

During the model’s production run, Lotus enjoyed huge success in Formula 1, and it was one of its former works drivers – Mike Spence – who was instrumental in the creation of the Elan BRM. In 1967, Spence had joined BRM, which already had close links with Lotus thanks to building competition-spec engines for its cars. 

Spence and BRM engineer Tony Rudd came up with a plan to buy Elans in kit form, with the body in primer. An upgraded engine would be fitted in place of the standard unit, which offered 115bhp in Series 3 SE form. With modifications including a gas-flowed cylinder head, bigger inlet valves, an increased compression ratio, different camshafts, revised Weber carburettors and a four-branch exhaust manifold, the BRM engine produced 130bhp, with the option of 140bhp if even hotter cams were specified. 


These special Elans were then finished in BRM’s dark green livery with orange bumpers and sold through Spence’s Lotus dealerships. Sadly, the project ended when he was killed during practice for the 1968 Indianapolis 500, but the Elan BRM had received rave reviews. When Paddy McNally tested one for Autosport, he recorded 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds and said that ‘the effect of 130bhp changes the whole nature of the car … when the extra horsepower is added, so is a great deal of excitement’.


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