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I did a search and could not find a similar thread, though it must have been discussed before: The Greatest Lotus road car ever.

The criteria should be that the car was conceived as a road car, so that eliminates Lotus Eleven but not I think 2-Eleven or 3-Eleven (a whole topic in itself I am sure so forgive me if that is debatable but lets leave that for now!). The other criteria is that price, new or now, is not relevant (EG. 'for the money...' is not a valid reason alone to nominate a car). Reliability or ease/lack of ease of maintenance is also not relevant. 

What is relevant is ride, handling, steering, sense of occasion, design and a host of other reasons you may give. Ideally, you should have some experience of the car. You may wish to nominate (a) one you own or have owned (b) another you imagine is the greatest and aspire to but have not owned. Your reasonings are part of the interest in this thread. Praise is what I am after, no dissing of Lotus you are less fond of please. 

As I ponder, my shortlisted so far (in no order) are: Elan 26, Elise S1, Esprit HC Turbo, Evora NA/400, Elan M100, Lotus 7. 

Justin

 

 

 

 

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From a practical point of view the Evora is the best road car Lotus has ever made.  It is the fastest, probably the most comfortable and in its latest iterations the most reliable and probably the bes

Being ever so slightly biased, this.... Has everything, including the iconic engine....      

Nice pic here shows very clearly why the Chapman design might go rather better with a modest amount of horsepower. Doesn't take much to make a gnat buzz, stop or change direction. Think of the extra f

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  • Gold FFM

For me the purpose of form and the light is right embodiment of design would make the Lotus 11 a real contender for me. It is a lovely sublime car to drive on the road but in reality, as a race car, with it's tiny engine it was pitted against some real heavyweights and came out with true credentials.

Also, the original Lotus Elite. A sublime, beautifully simple shape. Hugely lightweight (you could argue too lightweight) with a road going and racing heritage to boot. To me these cars more than any of the "modern" Lotus masterprices captured the true body and soul of what Colin Chapman was all about and both could be driven to the race track, raced, and driven home again!

A 1958 Lotus 11:

1958 Lotus Eleven » Pendine Historic Cars

A 1958 Lotus Elite - just sublime

126059.jpg

 

 

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Alcohol. Sex. Tobacco. Drugs. Chocolate.  Meh! NOTHING in this world is as addictive as an Evora +0. It's not for babies!    

The first guy to ride a bull for fun, was a true hero. The second man to follow him was truly nuts!   

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the first elite is lovely to look at but think it may disappoint to drive today. think the S1 111s Elise would take a lot of beating, was well balanced, light , enough power for everyday driving and still a joy to drive today

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hindsight: the science that is never wrong

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Mine

 

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Amateurs built the Ark

Professionals built the Titanic

"I haven't ridden in cars pulled by cows before" "Bullocks, Mr.Belcher" "No, I haven't, honestly"

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  • Gold FFM

Lotus 7 is in essence the road version of the Eleven, according to my Lotus history books. The Eleven terrifies me, as your feet are so close to the front of the car. As you say, the true embodiment of Mr Chapman but a bit too pure for me. I just ain't brave enough.

Elite Type 14: won its index five years on the bounce at Le Mans. I have met quite a few owners of Elite; not the easiest of cars on the road. The shape is near perfection. 

I agree @Loquacious Lew. Evora is very special and so usable. 

Justin

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1 hour ago, red vtec said:

Mine

 

You have a good memory

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hindsight: the science that is never wrong

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My first thoughts on this would be the Excel.

In the criteria you listed (ride, handling, steering, sense of occasion, design), I think it passes all of these with flying colours apart from the "sense of occasion", as to me mine is "just" another car that can be used whenever for whatever, which in itself is something you can't really say about too many Lotus over the years. 

Under other reasons, I'd add that It is practical, and family friendly - which you cannot say about many other Lotus, especially the current models. It has an relatively huge boot - five flight bags plus more squashy bags. As a family of 4 we have travelled to a fair few places in it. The SE version adds the extra power of the HC engine.

It is comfortable and reliable - apart from the bloody Toyota door handles. It is also faster than it looks - the mud flaps on the rear wheels are to slow the car down - by some 7 mph - as it couldn't be faster than the Esprit. I have heard a story that back in the day a Lotus Test driver took an Excel and an Esprit round Brands Hatch and the Excel was the quicker car.

The last model to be released while ACBC was alive.

 

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  • Gold FFM
20 minutes ago, ChrisJ said:

I'd add that It is practical

Does it have cupholders?

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Alcohol. Sex. Tobacco. Drugs. Chocolate.  Meh! NOTHING in this world is as addictive as an Evora +0. It's not for babies!    

The first guy to ride a bull for fun, was a true hero. The second man to follow him was truly nuts!   

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1 hour ago, pete said:

You have a good memory

Fair point :)

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Amateurs built the Ark

Professionals built the Titanic

"I haven't ridden in cars pulled by cows before" "Bullocks, Mr.Belcher" "No, I haven't, honestly"

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  • Gold FFM

@ChrisJ. You obviously have impeccable taste with a Monaco white Excel with half-leather. Plus a matching Esprit. 

I do really like the Excel but I find it does not, for some reason, feel as light as other Lotus. Maybe 'cos it is heavier...…..but even the Evora, which I assume is heavier than Excel, feels more nimble. Gearchange on Excel is brilliant, HC engine I find a bit top-end and the gearing is not quite right as it falls off peak power unless you rev it way beyond 6000rpm. That won't matter to many but it just knocks Excel down a few notches for me. 

I do love the matching stitching on the half-leather spec'd cars and the seats are so comfy. Amazing ride, brilliant steering and the looks just get better with every passing year. The Eclat is probably even better looking with the early dish (?) wheels and chrome trims.

Justin

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For sheer pantomime coupled with everyday practicality it's the V8 GT Esprit for me. For simply just getting on with getting on I'm going to go left field and nominate the Lotus Carlton. 

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I would love to drive a Lotus Carlton. When new, I was rather put off by the dumpy styling but I saw one at Coys auction in Essen in 2019. Very low mileage, it was like new (800KM or something like). Interior was very appealing. I recall the bonnet seemed to weigh a ton, a shame Lotus did not lighten that, I suspect GM banned any notion of doing lightweight panels.

A pal of mine's Dad had one new, it was by all accounts a wonderful motor. 

Justin

 

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That’s true about the hefty bonnet. I used to rest the front edge on my shoulder whilst (dis)connecting the battery conditioner. It was quite painful. Much as I loved mine, it’s not the generally accepted ethos of a Lotus though. Big heavy car, executive saloon steering and fairly roly poly cornering for example. Go like stink though!

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  • Gold FFM

@The Pits great post and hard to argue...….except I have never driven an Exige. On the 'to do' list.

A 7 is a 7, we know the truth but if it did not leave a Lotus factory, it don't count. I drove a Caterham 7 Sprint last year (the retro anniversary special limited to 60 cars). I was not particularly impressed. I suspect not a representative model of what a 7 can do; I have no 7 experience apart from that, another failing that requires correction.

Justin

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Going out on a limb now but absolutely loved the Europa 47 back in it's day.....

and now equally love the Evora today.

M.

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My 7s are extreme track only cars now to be fair but a fast aero screen 7 is a blast/tonic/outrageous/hilarious on the the road in small doses. 211 in a similar catagory, helmets needed above 40mph. Novelty wares off on longer trips. Exige S2 is that crucial bit more useable but easy to argue the 211 offers an even more concentrated dose of pure Lotus. Still the most precise car I’ve ever driven, even more so than the lighter 7. I think they call that chassis rigidity.

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I'm with Gordon Murray and who's to argue, the first series Elan is hard to beat,  I' referring to S1 and S2 up 1965. Ive owned a S2 and a Sprint, and the S2 is my favorite.

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I’ll restrict my verdict to the ones I have experience of and I’ve never driven any of the classics. I have owned numerous examples of the modern stuff though.

various Elise’s - S1/S2/S3

S1 Exige

Exige V6

M100 Elan

2-Eleven

Evora - S1 N/A & 400

The Evora 400 is the best car Lotus have built, but probably not the best Lotus. The Elise saved the company and was truly revolutionary, to the point that even 25 years later no one produces a better drivers car. On that basis it probably deserves the win.

However, when it comes to sheer drama and memorable moments, nothing tops the 2-Eleven. It’s the car that left the deepest impression on me and the one I have the fondest memories of, and the one I regret no longer having. Therefore it gets the win.

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@au-yt. Hard to argue with the Elan 26. The car that made Lotus Cars (road). Without it I don't think Lotus would have continued to make road cars, having lost money on Elite 14. Backbone chassis the key to making Elan profitable, designed by Ron Hickman, who went on to make his fortune with the Black & Decker Workmate. The Elan appeal crossed the divide between race/car enthusiasts to those who just wanted a fun sports car. Much like the Elise did many years later.

I find it hard to choose between Elan 26 and Elise. On a personal level, Elise but only because I have never driven an Elan!

Justin

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Original Elan for me also. My brother had a DHC with the Big Valve engine. I think they were timed at 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds, so bloody quick, great for hustling around and comfortable too. Compare that to something like the ubiquitous MGB, or even a fast sports car like a TR6 which could manage it in 8.2 seconds. The Elan really was an E-Type baiter.

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  • Gold FFM

@Neal H. Can I ask your views on the difference between Evora NA and 400? Power obviously but are there other reasons you would favour 400 over NA?

2-Eleven: I saw the early version, the silver Circuit Car, driven by Tony Shute. The launch edition colour scheme is just a brilliant bit of design. No windscreen put me off and having a 340R, which I will never sell (with luck), rather made a 2-Eleven another luxury I could not justify. A Lotus I need to drive, to add to the growing list.

Justin

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