As with all gun makers, quality was better in the 50's and 60's, as quality was better in the 30's and 40's then in the 50's and 60's.
Strangely, when it was being produced, many people turned their noses up at the Python Elite claiming quality was bad and not up to the standards of the 80's and early 90's.
The primary reason for the high prices of the Elite is that it was only produced for a short time and therefore is considered to be collectible.
As far as quality, the truth is you have to look at a gun as an individual. Guns are not vintages of wine. There are no "good years" or "bad years", there are only good or bad guns.
You can make the statement that Pythons made in the 50's are better quality then Pythons made in the 90's, but you can get a dog from the 50's and a jewel made in the late 90's.
Buying a gun based on just when it was made can get you burned, or cause you to pass up a winner.
As above, the sole and only difference between an Elite Python and all the others is the Elite has the word "Elite" stamped on the barrel..... that's it.
In the later 90's Colt was having trouble producing the Python on the production line so they moved production to the Custom Shop.
To indicate the move they added the "Elite" stamp.