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My new Elite, for anyone who likes the old bus

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Hi all. Just recently I managed to scratch a 30-odd year itch and buy a Lotus Elite S2. No I haven't won the lottery as Mark Blanchard suggested, but recently we had a thorough rejig of the household finances and freed up enough for a teensy weensy loan, which normally would have meant updating one of the family shunters. However I took a long look at our two 10 year old bangers and decided they were doing their jobs just fine, and maybe something special was in order. I have always felt guilty about the Esprit and not being able to take the kids to shows in it (especially when they get in for nowt at most being under 12s!!). What better than a Lotus 4 seater, just like my old Top Trumps favourite.

I loved Esprits and Lotii from an early age but the defining moment when I knew there had to be one in my life came when a neighbour bought a new S2 in James Bond copper no less. On a dreary North East housing estate in 1981 he may as well have pulled up in a spinning UFO, such was the impact on me and my spotty peers. I have kept track of that car for years, and still know it's current owner, but after years of neglect, and an engine fire I recently had to conclude it was beyond my meagre restoration skills, and besides the current owner still thinks it's worth a wee bit too much.

After keeping track of the market for years I know there are maybe just over a dozen really nice Elites known to exist, and a shocking percentage are disappearing overseas where people seem to appreciate them so much more than us shortsighted Brits. I had kept in touch with the owner of a minty red one which I first saw in 2003, and had appeared in Practical Classics in 2002. When I saw he was disposing of his spares on Ebay it was obvious the car was next or had already gone. A phone call revealed it was going on Ebay within days, and a period of tense negotiation, sleeples nights and handwringing occurred. Jeremy Clarkson reckons he is the world's worst negotiator, but I'm right up there and find it impossible to hide enthusiasm if I want something. If I came across as tetchy at all in the last few weeks please excuse me, I'd make a crap car dealer!

The car itself is a two owner vehicle and was originally owned as part of a larger car collection by an extremely wealthy gentleman (naturally) who simply lavished care upon it, but used it properly at the same time, as the current 72k miles would suggest. On picking it up it was not quite as mint as I recall, the last owner had kept it very well in a heated garage but at some point seemed to have lost interest and turned on to Jaguars. Nothing a good cambelt service and valet will sort though, and nothing like what some of the heaps on Ebat require.

The amount of interest the car has generated in the odd few times it's been on the road is astonishing. It's quite different from the Esprit; no-one under 40 seems to give a toss and walks straight past it which is quite nice - not being a poser sometimes the amount of chavs leering at the Esprit with camera phones can be a bit off putting. Older gents stop their cars and admire the Elite, and everyone appreciates the simplicity compared to modern metal.

To drive it's really nice, a solid cruiser and a nice contrast to the Esprit. My kids think it' just the grooviest thing ever, and in an age where an 11 year old boy can admit to liking ABBA without getting beaten up that seems appropriate. If I had been sensible an Excel would have been a much better everyday choice, the post 1989 cars being the optimum. For me though each year they became better built they lost their 70s glamour. The best personal compromise would have been an Early Eclat Excel, with newer running gear and the old Speedlines, but if anything they are even more undervalued and hard to find - David Boath I want yours when you've finished with it! Not having changed the belts yet it's SORNed until after Christmas when there should be a chance to take some nice shots. Until then here are some old ones and a couple taken for insurance purposes.







In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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very nice looks bloody great, I keep looking at excels myself.

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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Well done Mark, fantastic car!

Thanks for sharing the story and the pics. Amazing how many car dreams originate from young age and stay with us forever.

Back in South Africa, I remember my sister had a stunning friend at high school (back in the early 80's), her parents were a very stylish couple living in a contemporary glass house on a hill. Her father drove a red Esprit as a daily driver, and yes, the mother (who was also stunning) drove a red Elite!

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Thanks Mark but no need, now have 2 copies (one came with the history file).

I have been poring over that issue since I bought it in 2002, it has never been completely filed away in the attic, if you know what I mean! :)

The pictures for the issue were taken at the photographic archive at Beaulieu, luckily a few are still available (great resource by the way, have a look here). I'm going to order some prints to make a photo montage for my birthday prezzie next month.

Edited by LooseCannon

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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Lovely car Mark...

And SOooo underated. :)

I always regret selling mine , but then I was seduced by an S3 turbo and I was hooked !

If I had the room to keep one I would have another, and that car of yours is one of the best I have seen.


"Neglect not thy opportunities"

Martock ,Somerset. 1661

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I have looked at Elites over the years, here ( on Ebay) and in the UK, in person but I have always been scared to take the plunge being too worried about their reputation for bad reliability. However, my Esprit's reliability was never bad and didn't live up to their reputation so why should an Elite's if it's gone over properly? The Eclat never got as bad a reputation. I don't know why.

I always admired Steve Miller's when he was at Cosworth running the Indy engine department. He regularly drove it in from a village off the Banbury Road. He seemed to have little trouble with it.

I have even been reading the document on how to improve your Elite from the Golden Gate Lotus Club web site. You won't be needing that, Mark, with that fantastic example you've got. Well done. I am sure you will have many happy miles with it.

S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE


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Thats a wonderful looking example of a beautiful Elite Mark. Like you said, so few really nice ones left, that actually come up for sale. Nice find.

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk - that will teach us to keep mouth shut!

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Brilliant Choice mark and I know that car myself. Infact I think you'll find that at the event it's pictured at, which was Castle Coombe 2005, MJK went for a blast round the track in it! It also was second in the concours nect to the old mans ex car. I've posted this picture many times but just noticed whats parked next to it!!!!


Small world hey?

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Reliability, well we'll soon find out! I couldn't have a better head start though with this one, and Lotus seemed to have got the hang of them by the time the S2 came out. I was quite shocked to find out it had done 72k miles (it looked like half that at the very most). If it had been a Volvo with 72k it would still have been exceptional. The trick must surely be down to careful preventative maintenance, perhaps that was a problem originally as Lotus were pitching it to the executive market where the permatanned balding thrusters there just want to "wash n go", not be oiling trunnions every 1000 miles.

For me it's just nice to have a car from the Chapman era, which was a big part of my childhood like many on here; the GP team, the films, it was a magical time to be a kid. The thought that Colin may have walked past it on the assembly line or glanced at it in the car park just makes it more special.

Edited by LooseCannon

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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Love the back seats Mark...looking forward to seeing it at the Metro Centre

Marge: Homer, I don't want you driving around in a car you built yourself.

Homer : Marge, you can either sit there complaining, or you can knit me some seat belts...

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Well done Mark !

Lotus' slogan fits perfectly here: 'For the few who know...'



'88 Excel SE - monaco white

'99 Elise 111 - azure blue �

'87 TurboEsprit - calypso red

'02 BMW 325ci convertible - diamond black


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  • 1 year later...


Is the copperfire elite on the A plate your Dad's old car?

I think it is now owned by a club member in surrey.

I went to my first meet at the Chequers in Surrey in Dec and was pleasantly surprised to find another member with a S2 2+2 and chatting to him about his A plate elite in that colour.

Sounds like it has a loving home.


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Great looking car :rofl:

Caught between a rock and a hard place in a catch 22 situation, So its 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. Your damned if you do, but your damned if you don't so shut your cock!!!!!!!!!!!

Lotus Espirt Turbo S3    

Lotus Esprit S4 

Lotus Elise S2 Sport 130


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