Did Rajesh Khanna Gift Dimple Kapadia A 1973 Lotus Elan +2S?

Images: Makarand Baokar

Legend has it that this Lotus Elan +2S was the car that Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna bought and gifted to his gorgeous new wife Dimple Kapadia. Although there is no conclusive documentation to prove this, it does make for a good story, right?

1973 Lotus Elan +2S Abbas Jasdanwala Rajesh Khanna Dimple Kapadia
Light, streamlined and stylish, the Elan +2 was one of two models that contributed to establishing the reputation of Lotus

Founded by Colin Chapman and Colin Dare, Lotus Engineering initially fabricated kit cars, to be raced by privateers. Of the early attempts the most successful model was the Lotus Seven kit car launched in 1957, and made by Lotus until 1970, when the license was sold to Caterham, who, at the time of writing, still (in theory) make the Seven.

1973 Lotus Elan +2S Abbas Jasdanwala Rajesh Khanna Dimple Kapadia
Pop-up headlamps were typical of sports car design from the late 1960s, early 1970s

Nineteen fifty-seven was also the year that Colin Chapman launched the legendary Elite, the first street legal car from Lotus, which was a technological tour de force featuring an extremely light monocoque body made entirely in fibreglass. Thanks to a kerb weight of just 559kg, the Elite had a top speed of 190 km/h despite being powered by a tiny 1.2-litres 76bhp engine. But the Elite was fragile, and reliability issues, as well as the complexity of manufacturing, restricted sales.

1973 Lotus Elan +2S Abbas Jasdanwala Rajesh Khanna Dimple Kapadia
Rear lamps were from the... can you guess...?

Learning from the Elite, Chapman next developed a more conventional two-seater, the Elan. It featured a fiberglass body “sitting” on a steel backbone chassis, but retained the earlier car’s independent suspension system and disc brakes all around. The car was powered by a Lotus-developed Ford engine making 105bhp from 1558cc. Although the weight went up to 580kg, the max speed was still a very impressive 185 km/h.

1973 Lotus Elan +2S Abbas Jasdanwala Rajesh Khanna Dimple Kapadia
Rostyle alloy wheels were a typical fitment for many British sports cars from then

The Elan was launched in 1962. In 1968, the range was extended to launch Lotus’ first “four-seater”, dubbed the Elan +2. This was made possible by stretching the Elan’s wheelbase from 2.13 metres to 2.45 metres, and increasing the car’s overall length.

1973 Lotus Elan +2S Abbas Jasdanwala Rajesh Khanna Dimple Kapadia
Though it is written Lotus on the engine cover, the Lotus-tuned engine was based on the Ford Kent four-cylinder unit

With a pair of tiny seats at the rear good enough for small children, the 2+2 Elan +2 was also a redoubtable success. Although weight went up to 950kg for the bigger car, the maximum speed was still a very impressive 193 km/h, as the Elan +2 received a more powerful 119bhp version of the 1.6-litre twin cam engine.

1973 Lotus Elan +2S Abbas Jasdanwala Rajesh Khanna Dimple Kapadia
The Lotus badge features the letters ACBC for founder Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman's initials, with the green as a reference to British Racing Green

The car we see here is the only Lotus Elan +2S (the more powerful version) in India. Who imported it and how it was brought in is not known, but it has been speculated that this was the car that Rajesh Khanna gifted Dimple Kapadia, when the two married. If you know any better, please write in.

Around 1984, the car was acquired by Akbar Ali Abdul, who in turn sold it to collector Abbas Jasdanwalla in the early 1990s. Jasdanwalla’s garage Mid-Town Motors restored the car soon thereafter, to this distinctive two-tone colour scheme.

Gautam Sen

Serial concours judge, author, founder-editor of several Indian auto mags, as well as co-conspirator with design greats Marcello Gandini, Tom Tjaarda, and Gérard Godfroy on a few vehicle projects


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