Thursday, April 23, 2009

1991 Lotus M100 Elan

If timing is everything then Lotus had nothing when they introduced the new Elan in 1989. (Known to Lotus fans as the "M100 Elan" to differentiate it from the original Elan)

Lotus had to know that introducing a FWD, Isuzu powered car with the Elan name on it was going to raise a few eyebrows. The original RWD Elan (which went out of production in 1973) was a legendary sports car.

What Lotus may not have known was that Mazda was going to release the Miata just a few months after the M100 Elan. The RWD Miata looked incredibly similar to the original Elan. It drove similar to the original Elan. It reminded everyone of just how great the original Elan was. Worst of all for Lotus, it was considerably cheaper than the M100 Elan and the US (both Lotus' and Mazdas target market) was headed into a recession. TheM100 Elan didn't stand a chance. It lasted just 1 year in the US.

The M100 Elan is not a bad car, in fact it's a damn nice car. The turbocharged 4 cylinder Isuzu engine moved the Elan to 60 MPH in 6.7 seconds. (It's also a reliable engine, something Lotus was never previously known for.) It's handling, although very different from the tail out style of handling the original Elan had, was incredibly good for a FWD car. (Let's face it, Lotus knows how to make cars handle no matter where their engines are or what wheels are driving them.) All-in-all it was a comfortable, well laid out, dependable, but expensive sports car. As good as it was, the Elan wasn't right for the market.

There were only 3800 Elans built in total and only 600 or so came to the US (these figures vary, depending on what source you use - I've averaged the numbers), making this a rare car and a possible future collector's car.

If you buy one though, don't buy it as an investment. Buy it to drive the hell out of it.

The 1991 Lotus Elan on eBay has a claimed 12,300 miles on it. It's in good, but not perfect condition. The price is a bit on the high side, but it appears to be a car you could jump in and take for a long drive the minute you took delivery of it. Click here to see the eBay listing.

Lotus Elan Central has all kinds of great information about these cars. Click here to find their website.

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