1991 Lotus Elan: Cheap Exotic


What’s amazing to me is how a car with a badge like Lotus can fall down the slippery slope of deferred maintenance and accident damage to become a rather dirt-cheap project. It joins the ranks of Porsche 928s and Mercedes SL-series convertibles, vehicles that cost a fair amount new but now are hard sells in rough condition. This 1991 Lotus Elan here on eBay is every inch of a project car, but that hasn’t stopped bidders from chucking up some low numbers to see what the reserve might be (or you can hit the BIN for $3,750). The Elan featured an engine sourced from one of my favorite turbocharged hot hatches, the Isuzu Impulse, but handling was entirely engineered by the geniuses at Lotus. Despite being front-wheel drive, the Elan was still considered one of the best handlers of its day; the question now is, have they gotten cheap enough that examples like this deserve rescuing. I’m on the fence with this one – what about you?


  1. Peter

    I’m sure it’s fine for some.

    And I freely admit that ANYTHING with the name “Lotus” on it will turn my head..for all the credible reasons that helped define the Man and his philosophy, i.e, “Simplicate and add Lightness….”

    But, to parapharse the Dos Equis Beer Commercials guy, “I don’t often drive FWD…but when I do, I prefer….” to which I would add a string of formidable, FWD success stories, like Saab, Citroen, Audi, Toronado, Eldorado, Honda, before I would get involved with a Lotus driven from the (wrong–sorry, folks) end.

  2. Jeff Lavery

    I’m of the same mindset, but I will say my 2010 Civic Si was one of the most fun cars I ever autocrossed. Added a big sway bar and it rotated nicely. While I do love my M3 for having similar abilities, a properly set-up FWDer can be pretty entertaining as well. But it takes a special car to make that possible.

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