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Lotus

Lotus

For almost 60 years sports car lovers have been enjoying the results of the genius and foresight of Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman (with the great assistance of a dedicated band of other often forgotten specialist engineers) who produced a series of Lotus models where outstanding performance and handling for their time were the chief selling points. A qualified RAF engineer and sometime used car trader,…

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Lotus Esprit

Lotus Esprit

PRICE: £7000-£35,000

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Fast Facts

  • Produced:
    1976-2004
  • Engine:
    2.0/2.2/2.2T/3.5T (V8)
  • 0-60 mph:
    4.8secs
  • Top Speed:
    175mph
  • Power:
    2.0/2.2/2.2T/3.5T (V8)

Thank Bond for the upmarket image of the Esprit, although Lotus boss Colin Chapman always intended this midengined supercar should appeal to a more moneyed set when it was launched in 1976. Thanks to a production run lasting an incredible 28 years, there’s a huge choice of cars for anyone wanting a sharply British flavour to their champagne motoring. On a more Cava budget, start your hunt at the earlest 2.0-litre cars from around £7000, but the choice doesn’t stop until £35,000 for the last V8s from early this century. Find the rare, be-winged Sport 350 special edition from 1999 and the price goes even higher, although nowhere near the £65,000 it originally cost. As in any elite club, there are subtle snobberies within. Such as whether youprefer the original Giugiaro wedge shape, or the more supple Peter Stevens redesign from 1987. Engines are the other divider, with most preferring the power of the turbos (from 1980) and ideally bolted onto the ferociously quick 3.5 V8 from 1996 that replaced the fourcylinder cars. You’ll need above £19,000 to get hold of a pretty good one though. Whatever the car you’re guaranteed fabulous handing (so long as the geometry is set well, say the experts), a near-supine driving position, minimal space and a balky, fragile gearbox. A composite plastic body means no rust, although the backbone chassis might not be so lucky. But mainly check for love and attention, particularly around service time..

Lotus Carlton

Lotus Carlton

RATING:

8 / 10

PRICE: £10,000-£20,000+

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Fast Facts

  • Produced:
    1990-94
  • Bodywork:
    Four-door saloon
  • Engine:
    Six-cylinder 24-valve twin overhead camshaft twin turbocharger fuel-injected 3638cc 360bhp
  • 0-60 mph:
    5+ sec
  • Top Speed:
    180 mph
  • MPG:
    17-30+

Past: The old Vauxhall Carlton GSi saloon was a hugely competent upmarket big barge, but a 180 mph supercar? Well yes, thanks to Lotus. This Carlton was the fastest ever production saloon, when introduced in 1990. Apart from twin turbo power, the LC boasted a six-speed Corvette transmission and an accordingly uprated chassis by Lotus. Running for just four years, this Ferrari-beater was a victim of the ‘90s recession and insurance costs. See last page for a fuller appreciation of this fine supercar saloon.

Present: What a car! On the one hand there’s Ferrarieating pace yet it’s as refined and comfortable as a normal Carlton GSi. Even today these are seriously quick cars that – shorn of electronic aids – makes a Cossie look positively tame by comparison.

Future: Due to limited production run, the LC was classic from the outset. Still fair value for money, parts supply is not especially good but club support is.