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?

1983 Jaguar XJS: Anglo-American

There’s that old saying of loving a car for its beauty but hating the thing for its dodgy mechanics. I’ve always thought the Jaguar XJS of the 1980s was a superb looking car and a great choice for a grand tourer, if not for the fact that its British¬†heritage made for less-than-stellar reliability. This 1983 example on eBay¬†addresses that issue with an engine swap in the form of a small-block Chevy mill, and it says to be a running and driving example for only $2,800. While the seller says it’s in overall good condition, it will need to be trailered – so that leaves some questions as to the extent of this Jag’s needs. With the classic good looks of the XJS combined with reliable SBC power, this appears to be one example of British engineering anyone can turn a wrench on.