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Marque: Lotus - Company History & Models - Cars By Brand

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 Elise

Lotus Elise

RATING:

8 / 10

PRICE: £6000-£13,000

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Fast Facts

  • Produced:
    1996 on
  • Bodywork:
    Two-door sports roadster
  • Engine:
    Rover K Series: Twin overhead camshaft in-line 16-valve four-cylinder 1796cc 118bhp 160bhp 177bhp 190bhp
  • 0-60 mph:
    4.7 sec
  • Top Speed:
    135+ mph
  • MPG:
    20-35+ mpg

Past: Arriving in 1996 the Elise was intended to replace the M100 Elan yet actually became the spiritual successor to the Seven. It was everything a true Lotus should be; fab looking, great to drive and minimalist. 190 VHPD for ‘97 with special 340R a year later. Elise Sprint for ‘99 had 160bhp and nifty rear wing. Rover K Series (made in a wide range of tune) not certified for the US, so in ‘04, Toyota’s great 1.8-litre VVT-i unit with variable valve timing was employed.

Present: Arguably the greatest Lotus yet? Elise really is a modern Seven with even more thrills and spills and slightly better civility. Handling is typical mid-engined and can bite on limit, while performance is blistering whatever the engine tune.

Future: A neo classic, avoid the cheap shabby stuff (there’s lots around); nice original cars not crashed or ‘chaved’ is where future prosperity lies.

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..

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