First introduced in 1962 as a roadster (Drop Head), an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé (Fixed Head) version in 1965. It was the first Lotus road car to use the a steel backbone chassis, a technology that continued until 1995 on all Lotus road cars including the Europa, Excel and the Esprit supercar, when it was replaced by the Elise's amazing extruded and bonded Aluminium chassis sub frame with a glass reinforced composite body.
It was also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. Although a kit was not really the best description of these cars - they could easily be assembled in a weekend, as only a few key components had to be mated together.
The Lotus Elan was technologically advanced with a twin-cam 1558cc engine (early Elans in 1962 came with a 1.5 litre engine), 4-wheel disc brakes, and 4-wheel independent suspension.
Mirroring the changing lifestyle of Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, an Elan +2 was introduced in 1967 with two rear seats. These rear seats were compact but by no means occasional and it's not coincidence that it perfectly accommodated Colin's growing family - a car boss has to be able to use his own cars after all!
Source: Wikipedia (original)