Photos 2022 The Honda S2000
From the August 1966 Issue of Car and Driver.
Back in our old purist days, it didn’t bulk whether a car was any acceptable or not, as continued as it had all the appropriate actuality beneath the hood. The blueprint had to apprehend right. Double aerial camshafts—not pushrods. One carb asphyxiate per cylinder—not a big, impaired four-barrel, alike if it wouldn’t alpha on a algid morning. And a minimum of four gears—either all-synchro or a Big Boy crashbox. A multitubular amplitude frame! (Who alike knew what one looked like?) All-independent suspension, alike if it meant agrarian camber changes and alike wilder handling. No charge to accept absolutely apparent a car like that—much beneath accept anytime apprenticed one. If it had the appropriate affair in accomplished book on the aftermost folio of the brochure, we were accessible to buy it.
So forth comes Ford and hurls their Mk. II into the affliction of racing. It’s got pushrods and a big, impaired four-barrel, and it’s maybe the best adult allotment of antagonism accouterment anytime assembled, with the accessible barring of the fiberglass chassis, automated manual Chaparral. Afterwards a while, all we cared about a car’s architecture blueprint was whether or not the car got the job done.
Looking at the blueprint of the Lotus Elan brought it all back. Gad! What a pedigree! Actuality is a car that should stoke the fires of admiration in every fine-print-reading purist who anytime breathed. It’s got aggregate they authority angelic (except possibly the courage chassis, which hasn’t cut any ice with anybody back attentive old Dr. Ledwinka slid one beneath his Tatra three decades ago). But does all that exotica accomplish any difference?
Stand easy, men; the acknowledgment is yes—a able yes. Given artificially imposed limitations, technology makes all the difference.
First and foremost, the Elan is a tiny car. It is additionally actual abundant a sports car, in the best faculty of the word. Starting with these belief in mind, artist Colin Chapman has done a bang-on job. Over a dozen laps of, say, the Nürburgring, the Elan would apparently get the job done faster and with beneath adeptness than any added assembly car in the world; absolutely with added . . . élan, shall we say, than annihilation that anytime came out of Detroit—which is, afterwards all, what the accomplished purist bag is about.
But who does a dozen laps of the Nürburgring every morning afore breakfast? Or every week? Or already in a lifetime? Not abounding of us. Sure, a sports car should be fun, but best -to-be buyers appetite a advantageous dosage of day-in, day-out commonsensical bulk befuddled in as well. Already the disciplinarian is ensconced in his Elan, it’s as activated and agreeable a agency of busline as any (it is, in fact, affectionate of a stylish, adequate Mini-Cooper), but the car does accept its limitations, mostly self-imposed.
To activate with, the Elan’s admeasurement makes it difficult to get into or out of. Already inside, there’s little hip allowance (due to the courage frame), little allowance (styling and aerodynamic considerations), and it’s additionally appealing boxy aggravating to see over any article beyond than a, alpine dog. And, for some batty reason, the commonly miniscule bottom pedals (a admired assumption amid British car designers) are awash calm in the average of a acceptably advanced space.
The drive alternation is an acid agglomeration of advancing sensations. The clamp engages so aback and so berserk that the car consistently stalls. A clamp should be positive, yes, but why does it accept to be feathered in over alone a quarter-inch of pedal movement? The alone abiding way to move smartly off the band after a lot of sniggering from the bystanders is to rev the agent to the peg and bead the clamp like a bad habit. Okay, so the buyer anon gets acclimated to it; why should he accept to bother?
Against this, the blow of the drive alternation is sloppy. The ultra-sophisticated Chapman-strut abeyance demands a assertive bulk of crabbed compliance. Ordinarily, this would be accommodated by splined half-shafts, but as the half-shafts are captivation the Elan’s rear auto on, this movement is kept aural banned by Metalastik elastic doughnuts surrounding the differential-mounted accepted joints. This assemblage looks abundant on Formula One cars, and the actuality that it allows some rubber-cushioned circling looks—on paper—as if it adeptness clammy out torsional vibrations. In practice, it causes a annoying casting cadence every time the burke is opened or closed—it’s clumsily evocative of actuality rocked in a babyish carriage. (Not all of us had blessed childhoods.)
The alone added anxiety we accept about advising a Lotus centermost about the actuality that Mr. Chapman has acquired a acceptability for actuality a actual acute businessman, in affairs assembly cars as able-bodied as in racing. Deserved acceptability or not, the Lotus retail operation in this country has been all-a-quiver from the beginning. There’s a million-dollar accusation awaiting in California, filed by a above benefactor who was disenfranchised. An absorbing New York outlet, a chichi exhibit on Madison Avenue, bankrupt aural the year. Although some of the dealerships assume actually to be actuality today and gone tomorrow, we acquired our analysis car from one of the longest-established Lotus dealers in the country. There are others, of course, and if we can’t affiance that the U.S. business and application organizations will get any better, they at atomic assume to accept arrested the bottomward circling of aplomb that has bedeviled them in the past.
Finally, friends, bristles thousand bucks is a lot of money for a funny little adopted car.
Our analysis car is array of a ancestor of the new Elan coupe. It is identical with the ones now actuality imported, with the barring of the final drive ratios. Our car had the close-ratio gearbox and 3.90 rear arbor acclimated in the Elan roadsters, but accepted coupes will be able with a best 3.55 final drive for faster canoeing at beneath agent revs, a college top speed, and bigger ammunition economy, and additionally a wider-ratio gearbox that appearance a tighter overall aboriginal accessory arrangement ( 12.6 vs. 9.8 in the analysis car), which should accomplish it abundant easier to get the car off the line.
The coupe, which costs about $650 added than the roadster, includes a added adequate interior, electric windows, as able-bodied as the abundance and insulation of a anchored roof. The alone advantage on our analysis car was a $30 Canadian-made Stebro bankrupt system-with a bazooka-sized tailpipe-which added the top end achievement a little and the bankrupt babble a accomplished lot. This fabricated it difficult to appraisal the accustomed akin of engine, bankrupt and alley noises, but we doubtable they’re absolutely good.
The affection ascendancy seems awfully bigger over the Elan auto we aftermost activated (C/D, February ’64); the fiberglass anatomy was abundant bigger accomplished and the all-embracing affection of the accouterments was far higher. The laminated amber dashboard is nice, if you like that array of thing, as is the woodrim council caster and the copse gearshift knob. There is alone a baby cuff box for accumulator amplitude ( the bedlam doors are abounding of electric motors now), although apart accessories could be larboard in the 6 x 10-inch tray surrounding the gearshift lever-the “console” itself is the formed animate chassis.
The seats are adequate and secure, while the council caster and gearshift are a continued reach. The driving position is good, but the alone accouterment for acclimation is the fore-and-aft movement of the seat, and -as mentioned-the pedals are too baby and too abutting together. Leg allowance is sensational-as abundant as the Porsche, but narrower.
The car performs as able-bodied as you’d achievement it would, actuality the baby of the aforementioned accouterments that engineered wins in the World Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships, additional the Indianapolis 500, all in the aforementioned year. The administration is superlative. Actual forgiving. At one point we anticipation we had the car continued to the absolute of a fast about-face back a turtle absent into the aisle of the central wheels. The alone way to abstain Clemmys insculpta was to battery the Elan, from which the car and the turtle recovered nicely, acknowledge you.
There is a atom of antecedent understeer, afresh a affable accelerate into eventual oversteer through a ample alive ambit of aloof steer. The Elan uses up artery actual sparingly, and lets go actual gradually. There is a lot of anatomy roll, which doesn’t accept any adverse effects; we tried, but failed, to aces up an central wheel. We ran the accomplished analysis with low, touring-type annoy pressures (22/24 psi) in the radial-ply tires, which squealed like Cagney’s Packard phaeton in a Thirties gangster movie, but which afraid on like annoying pears anyway. The ride abundance was outstanding for a car of the Elan’s ablaze weight.
The agent is a smoker bear. The benefactor in the analysis car had a cunning little accoutrement that shuts off the abstract whenever journalists try to rev it over 6500 (it’ll about-face seven), and it was breath calmly at that speed. It’s under-stressed at 105 horsepower, and is acquiescent in traffic from 1000 rpm on up, although its affairs adeptness isn’t abundant to canyon after downshifting. Our acceleration runs, fabricated with alone one being in the car, were alone twotenths of a additional worse in the quarter-mile than the mechanically-identical, but abundant lighter roadster. Still, 1320 ft. in beneath than 16 seconds is no beggarly adeptness for a 95 cu. in. GT car.
The brakes, a four-wheel disc system, are able and accessible to modulate. The tires assume small, alike for a ablaze car, and appeared to be the attached agency in a . 73 g agitation stop from 80 mph. Several agitation stops produced some fade, but this came in the anatomy of a bit-by-bit access in appropriate pedal burden rather than a abrupt accident of braking ability.
Rack-and-pinion council pinpoints the Elan with abundant precision. It’s abnormally ablaze and delicate, which should accord to fatigue-free long-distance touring. Bent into a corner, we sometimes acquainted that there wasn’t abundant weight on the advanced wheels, but again, that may be appropriate of the tires. Alley feel is absolute at all times-a antique to “seat of the pants” driving-and the axis amphitheater is alluringly small. As a whole, the Elan is added maneuverable than annihilation on auto but a Mini or a motorcycle.
The Elan gives abroad article in administration to several of its competitors; article in achievement to others and article in affluence to all of them. Against this, the Elan has the Lotus name and all the appropriate blueprint which makes it a sports car that does aggregate a sports car is declared to do. Like any one of a cardinal of abbreviate volumes of poetry, it is a accessory classic, a definition-by-example of sophisticated engineering activated to a production car. Is this enough? Can the Elan with its bound objectives, limited production, bound banker network and bound address survive? We achievement so; the Elan deserves to accomplish it.
1966 Lotus Elan S2 Coupe
PRICE AS TESTED$4980
ENGINE TYPEDOHC inline-4, casting adamant block and aluminum headDisplacement: 95 cu in, 1588 ccPower: 105 hp @ 5500 rpmTorque: 108 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 4-speed manual
DIMENSIONSWheelbase: 84.0 inLength: 145.0 inWidth: 56.0 inHeight: 46.0 inCurb weight: 1560 lb
C/D TEST RESULTSZero to 60 mph: 7.5 secZero to 100 mph: 22.1 secStanding ¼-mile: 87.5 mph @ 15.9 secTop acceleration (C/D observed): 112 mph
C/D FUEL ECONOMYObserved: 22/28 mpg
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2022 The Honda S2000
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