HOME > Lot 02 - 1968 Lotus Elan S3 SE

Lot 02 - 1968 Lotus Elan S3 SE

Lot 02 - 1968 Lotus Elan S3 SE

  • Desirable Series 3 Special Equipment Drop Head
  • Galvanised chassis
  • Matching numbers
  • Over £4,200 recently spent
  • Highly original with amazing history file

Winning Amount: £ 16,075.00

User ID: R********R


“It is not cheap, but to anyone contemplating buying a cheaper two-seater sports car, I would sell the television set, the washing machine, give up smoking, even give up drinking, but scrimp and save and buy an Elan and you won't be disappointed."

Denis Jenkinson

The Series 3 Special Equipment is considered by many Elan aficionados to be the ‘cream of the crop’ with the slim wheel arched delicacy, dainty rear lights and toggle dash switches of the early cars but the benefit of five years of development and improved refinement plus near Sprint power output. Importantly this particular car is a genuine ‘Type 45’ drop head coupe not a chop-topped fixed head (Chop Head Coupe?).

Originality is a key word with this Elan which has a very large proportion of its ‘as built’ features still present and correct. Overall, cosmetically the Elan is definitely in the ‘use, enjoy and improve’ rather than Salon Prive category – thank goodness. Mechanically over the years much effort has been expended keeping the Elan in shape as is evidenced in the extensive History File. It should be noted that with minimal use of late there may well be a certain amount of spanner twiddling required to get the car back into perfect health though she is currently road worthy and MOT'd, and a recent trip of some 65 miles was completed with no issues at all. A professional check over and evaluation carried out not long ago has yielded a useful but not overly onerous ‘to do’ list covering potentially rewarding DIY tasks such as steering and suspension bush replacement, attention to various trim items, adjustment of the tracking and so on.

The aforementioned history file accompanying the Elan includes over 100 invoices for work carried out over the years along with some 20 MOT test records dating back to the early 1980s, all of which support the current displayed mileage of 92,300.

The somewhat grandly titled Classic Certificate of Vehicle Provenance and covering letter from the factory held on file confirm this to be a ‘matching numbers’ Series 3 Elan Drop Head Coupe supplied with the Special Equipment package to the London Sports Car Centre under Invoice Number EK 54510 on 20th March 1968.

A previous owner, Mr Tim Bennett, provided us with further details of the car’s history and reunited the car with the Lotus Factory Workshop manual he purchased when he restored the car 35 years ago along with the corresponding photographic record! Mr Bennett bought the car in 1980 when he was in his early twenties, restored it onto a new chassis (collected from the factory on the roof-rack of the family Renault) in early 1982, wooed his now wife with the car and only sold it in 1984 to pay for their wedding - chivalry personified! It was purchased by a Mr Jeremy Sturman who kept the car for some twenty years during which time it was repainted back to its original blue. It was then sold to a Mr Robert Cooper twelve years ago meaning this Elan has had just three owners since 1980.

The file includes the current V5 plus the original Green Log Book which not only confirms the car’s factory SE status but also its original blue colour. It also interestingly lists Elan tuning and racing specialists Ian Walker Racing as owners for a 4 month period in 1968. This document further records the original owner as a Mr James Allan, with Mr Robert Davies and Mr Peter Robinson listed as subsequent private owners.

Highlights of the restoration and maintenance record referred to above are:
Full mechanical restoration on new Lotus supplied galvanised chassis (LR 1406), new hood and carpets 1981/2, 74,513 miles
Further engine work 1983
Full body restoration and repaint back to ‘Lotus Blue’ 1989
New bonnet and dashboard 1996
Rebuilt radiator and new stainless steel exhaust manifolds 2004
New rear springs and discs 2012
Extensive recommissioning work totalling over £3,200 2012
Further recommissioning and evaluation work carried out in May 2016 at a cost of over £1,000
Hand written maintenance logs covering the period 1978 to 1989

Current condition:
Post the almost obligatory chassis change as mentioned above, the fiberglass body now sits on a correct Lotus Factory galvanised unit hence the car is as close as is feasible to an unrustable classic; definitely a ‘box ticked’.

The bodywork is in pretty good, straight and mostly un-crazed condition though the closing panels’ fit is only average – even for an Elan. Those seeking Audi-style panel gaps might be well advised to look elsewhere!

Paintwork is best described as bright and shiny and although it has the odd run and imperfection plus some areas of ‘orange peel’, these are mostly below bumper level and the car generally looks very smart as can be seen in the photo gallery.

The chrome-work is acceptable though the first items on our list for any attention would be the wheel spinners, and as can be seen in the photographs, the door handles, rear lights, fuel cap and window frames are all less than perfect.

As mentioned, there is some pitting on rare rear lights but their lenses are un-cracked and have not suffered from undue fading as is often the case.

There is a full complement of weather gear present from a virtually perfect, well fitted hood to both full tonneau and hood covers which look to be the original items in good order though there is some slight fraying at the front ends of the hood cover.

Inside the car the trim is presentable but with potential for some easy and cost effective improvement. The correct basket weave seats are free from rips and tears though the stitching has come adrift on the driver’s side seat base. The door trims may well respond to some sympathetic re-tensioning or new foam as applicable. Some of the plastic trims such as around the eyeball vents and centre console have suffered cracks to varying degrees, though close examination is often required to appreciate this, while the dash top appears somewhat misshapen.

A nice, leather bound 14” Moto-lita steering wheel (a bit more substantial than the original) sets off the interior and the correct for year round gear knob with Lotus logo is in place. The varnished wood dashboard is in good shape having, for the most part, the correct switches including the now very rare ‘red fire’ heater control. A full set of correct Smiths instruments (with no ill advised owner-added extras) is present though the tachometer has recently decided to stop working. These are complimented by a period portable Philips radio that sits in its factory position above the ash tray. The correct ‘loop pile’ carpets are in fair condition and might benefit from relaying and re-fixing in various places. The boot carpeting is missing but the boot board is in place as is the correct spare wheel. Various chips and scuffs to the satin black paint finish along with the lack of carpeting give this area a somewhat scruffy cosmetic appearance. A useful safety/security cut off switch has been installed next to the battery.

The underside of the Elan is, cosmetically at least, possibly best described as ‘a little scruffy but disarmingly honest’ though there is no evidence of any attempt being made to hide anything or present the car as something it isn’t. Various fluid weeps are evident though charitably these could be viewed as ongoing rust prevention measures!

Being to desirable factory ‘SE’ specification, it is encouraging to find many of the defining features present: a green painted, correct pattern for year cam cover, knock on wheels, brake servo and wing mounted indicator repeaters are all there although the ’SE’ chrome sill stim strips and ‘rim-embellishers’ are not present.

The larger S3 radiator is still in place as is the engine driven fan. An alternator conversion has recently been carried out in the interests of improved usability while the correct for model pair of 40 DCOE 38s (within 20 serial numbers of each other) are present.  A full ‘manifold to tail-pipe’ stainless steel exhaust system is fitted and in good condition. A further eminently sensible modification is the fitting of discrete electronic ignition and it should be noted that the Elan was successfully fired up after a considerable period of inactivity without even the need to charge the battery. With no untoward rattles or nasty noises the engine displays ‘Factory Correct’ 45 psi oil pressure at cold idle and on the move while the water temperature stays within bounds. The gear-change has the Elan ‘rifle bolt’ feel to it, if a little stiff in 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th once the ‘box is warmed through. The super-direct Elan steering is also present though there is a very small amount of play detectable.

As we say - use and improve, this is not a perfect car or ’Trailer Queen’ but it could represent a very cost effective entry to Elan ownership; please bid accordingly.

Registration number: ATW 41F
Chassis Number: 45/7511
Engine Number: LP 12059 LBA


newest first / oldest first


February 07th at 12 : 01 PM

BID OF £16,000.00 PLACED BY Michael.A

February 06th at 10 : 06 PM

BID OF £14,550.00 PLACED BY Derrynafulla

February 06th at 11 : 38 AM

BID OF £12,050.00 PLACED BY EricTheViking

February 03rd at 06 : 31 PM

BID OF £10,050.00 PLACED BY shepworth

February 03rd at 04 : 05 PM

B e r l i n e t t a  5

February 03rd at 12:40 PM

Hi chapmanfan Sorry for the delay in responding.. We don't publish estimates on the website - potential buyers should feel free to bid what they feel the car is worth. Some of the other websites we advertise on insist on a guide price, which we are happy to list there. There are reserves set on most cars and when bidding is close to reaching the reserve the bid figures change from red to orange, and then to green once the reserve is reached. Hope that helps!

Flag as not constructive

BID OF £9,550.00 PLACED BY gilly1952

February 03rd at 12 : 12 PM

BID OF £9,050.00 PLACED BY EricTheViking

February 02nd at 07 : 46 PM


February 02nd at 05 : 29 PM

BID OF £2,500.00 PLACED BY Derrynafulla

February 01st at 08 : 32 PM

February 01st at 04:19 PM

Interesting car! To my mind the S3 SE is definitely the one to have too - some don't like the window frames which I think are worth the slight loss in purity of design with the hood down to have something for the hood to relate to when up! Is there a guide price or reserve?


Flag as not constructive

BID OF £500.00 PLACED BY nicholasoverall

February 01st at 10 : 02 AM