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Retro 2+2 Elite?


Whippet

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Hello all!

Just to let you know up-front I do not work for Lotus Marketing or Market Research!

After seeing some of the enthusiasm amongst you about the old Elite / Eclat (1974-1992), I am wondering why Lotus has never recently considered re-doing a "sensible" 2+2 in the similar avant-garde style as the Elite? Everybody is doing the retro-model thing, why not Lotus? Yes, I know about the Europa (which isn't really a tribute to the original, is it?) :) Given the surprising positive reaction to the Evora (especially amongst celebs), it might be an interesting idea if a suitable donor chassis can be found. (Pity that Proton can't really be of any help here, maybe Toyota?) I am sure the same 3.5 V6 can be used in a front-engine RWD setup?

Does anybody know if such a project was ever / is being considered?

Especially today in a post-crunch New World, a 2+2 may make a lot of sense, instead of say... an expensive Esprit replacement? :o

Best to you all

Etienne Botes

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I don't think the 4-seat Elite was a sales success first time round so there's no reason to think it will now. A few old fogeys on a forum saying it was nice is not a decent sign of a market. The Excel was a great car but never sold in decent numbers as it was always under the public's radar so I don't think the world is crying out for a new one. The Esprit, however, kept the company in the public eye for decades and is outrageous enough to stand out on its own merits. The replacement should do that too.

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

 

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:) Given the surprising positive reaction to the Evora (especially amongst celebs),

What the heck do you see as suprising about a new Lotus being well recieved, especially by Celebs. It's done exactly what it was planned to do by the guys at Lotus!

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http://everyman-campaign.org/

 

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They're a fickle bunch, that is why...

Previously they would choose more flashy modes of transport, then suddenly a complete 180 degree turn-around to Prius's and (thank goodness) back to something sensibly stylish, the Evora. I believe the Lotus Evora is absolutely the ideal 'celeb car': it is not over the top like a Ferarri or Lambo, not dull and expected like Porsche, doesn't shout "look at me" (especially in a post-crunch world), the brand is exclusive yet not elitist, and the engine is "just right" - powerful yet not a planet-killer. Celebs aside, this is how most intelligent consumers will perceive this car.

I think Lotus got the recipe "just right" with this. Which is why I am bringing up the idea of a 2+2 front engined concept in a similar vein.

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The Elite was a failure sales wise, I don't think it even sold a quarter of planned production. Strange isn't it that Lotus should be the same as other exotic manufacturers in that their proposals for executive carriages (Espada, Quattroporte, Lagonda etc) were always outsold by their less practical mid engined brothers. However image wise they probably succeeded in suggesting their makers did the full rsnge

However that doesn't mean there is not a market for a 4 seater in the modern idiom, ie a bit more basic, "Elise-like", a sports tourer with a backpack if you like. In my mind I have something of the size of an RX8, but employing Lotus lightweight principles,

I find it hugely disappointing that one of the reasons given by Lotus for the latest cars not going the 4 seater route is that they don't want to be in competition with 2nd hand Aston DB7s, XKs and 911s. As Bibs said somehwre previously this whole business of comparison with used cars is daft as many people will always want new cars otherwise they wouldn't make them! Besides I don't want an Aston (even if I could afford one), I want a Lotus for a whole variety of reasons that a Maserati 3200 will never match. Am I alone?

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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  • 1 year later...

Or, maybe just stretch it a bit, make a 4-door of it, and we've got a Lotus "sport wagon" (Anyone spied the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon yet?). Hmmm...what's next? A Lotus "crossover?" ;-)

Speaking of four doors, (and seating four grown-ups) anyone remember the Lotus Carlton-Omega saloons? Looked quite modest and familiar (great 'stealth' car)...but it sure could take off like a rocket back in the day!

Cheers,

-KR

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I'm 34...

A market for a Lotus with 4 seats does exist, otherwise they wouldn't have launched the Evora.

The reason I have my car is because it is the one that I wanted. I have a 2 year old daughter and I want to use my car for weekend trips to France etc. A carlton would let me do that, but I wanted something a bit more unusual looking than a GM saloon. I may well buy an evora in a few years. Its the first recent lotus that I am genuinely interested in as a buyer.

And as far as it not being a sales success? Elites and eclats massively outsold the S1-S2 esprits over a similar period. It was more than 2-1 in sales for the 2+2 cars.

eclat S1 - 1522

elite S1 - 2535

Esprit S1 - 718

Esprit S2 - 1060

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The Elite was a failure sales wise, I don't think it even sold a quarter of planned production.

Isn't that every Lotus.

Remember when elise was selling the most (3500 PA?) the factory was gearing up for 10,000 cars a year.

I wonder if any Lotus (with possible exception of early S1 Elise) ever exceeded hopes

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Elites and eclats massively outsold the S1-S2 esprits over a similar period. It was more than 2-1 in sales for the 2+2 cars.

eclat S1 - 1522

elite S1 - 2535

Esprit S1 - 718

Esprit S2 - 1060

However the Elite had produced nearly half it's total production before the Esprit came on line. The Esprit was always the top selling model in each year, but I suppose if you call the Elite/Eclat "the 4 seater" it was a bit more even.

Don't get me wrong I'm as big a fan of them as anyone, and yearn for a modern equivalent, perhaps Lotus just need to get their confidence up??

BTW those concept sketches above were mine, they were done by a freelance designer, Paul Breuer, at the behest of the Artioli administration in the 1990s. Some of the details have not aged well, but the overall concept is nicely respectful of the original.

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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I hadn't taken offence - I didn't see it as an a X sold more than Y, so X must be better comment, I was more commenting on there being a sales market for people like me who just won't buy a 2 seater as a weekend toy, as the opportunity for use would be extremely limited at weekends if they can't take their children.

Looking at the data, I do see your point about the year on year sales, however there is something else to think about that is specific to the elite/eclat sale figures which skews the data, rather than to the sales concept of a 2+2 Lotus.

I believe the replacement chassis issues from the rear crossmember were first sighted at around 4-5 years old. So for the early cars, there were the beginings of tales of woe from 1977-78. This would have decimated sales for the later cars. I would guess that if the original product didn't have a massive achillies heel, the sales momentum for the 2+2's might have continued for a bit longer. Sales also dropped off as the design got older. The elite is an older design than the esprit and was further through its product life cycle, James Bond also probably played a part in boosting esprit figures. I think by the time of the S2 review for the elite and eclat, the damage had been done and mud stuck. Even excels were tarnished (unfairly) with a reputation for unreliability caused by the problems of the S1 elites/eclats and disolving rear chassis crossmembers when the cars were subjected to everyday use.

I'm sure I'm not alone in ruling out a 2 seater as a method of transport, so there must be a market for the Evora or a larger front engined Lotus 4 seater.

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I'm sure I'm not alone in ruling out a 2 seater as a method of transport, so there must be a market for the Evora or a larger front engined Lotus 4 seater.

Definitely; the Evora, lovely as it is, is something of a missed opportunity in that respect. There are flaws in the mid engine concept which will always rule them out as everyday transport. Lotus had (have?) the opportunity to dispel their "weekend toy" image with their enhanced build quality, and provide an alternative for those who can't or don't want to run 2 vehicles for business/pleasure. I think they underestimate their fanbase.

One of the problems with the old car was it was marketed as luxury transport to justify the high price when a whole host of prosaic stuff like 3 litre Capris did the same job for half the price (bar image of course). Maybe they are still stung by that thinking any 2+2 they make will be compared more to a VW Scirocco than DB9

Edited by LooseCannon

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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Guest mkelite

hope u dont mind me repeating a comment ive made many times b4 - but i think simply put - the main reason sporting car manufacturers shy away from 'four seaters' as u put it or '2+2s' is just because a sporting car with an auto box or more than two seating is not seen as a true sportscar. It is commercially more of a gamble for a specialist manufacturer. regards DC.

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I just want to ad my impression of a new Elite/Eclat successor.

The idea is to combine both designs, so you cannot determine if it is a coupe or a shooting brake

New Elite

The Real Stig Lotus Turbo Esprit, Lotus Elise S1, Lotus Elite, Lancia Delta, Jaguar XF ....Previous cars: Subaru SVX, Porsche 924 Turbo, Lotus Eclat Excel, Lotus Elite, Matra Murena 2,2, Fiat X1/9 5sp

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Evora as a four seater? Have you tried to sit in the back of one.? I tried when i worked there at Hethel and even with the front seats removed you would not want to go around the block in the back. Still a great car. And by the way i no longer work there. the job was great but the moneys crap. i now have a crap job with great money! Funny old world.

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A bit harsh to us owners. I'm not even 40 yet.

Dermot

Sorry, Dermot. I didn't mean to be rude. I'm not that familiar with all you new, young owners of Elites and Excels. I was thinking more of the times we had written on the Lotus Esprit Forum about how good and under-rated those two cars are.

I don't think anything was ever wrong with the Elite concept but it got a bad reputation for poor reliability and low-rpm performance early on which did it no good and this, together with the high price, certainly didn't help the sales of the car. While the early Esprits got a similar reputation, it's supercar looks and the fact that it was an impractical sports car, and, so, was seen more as a second car, helped it stay popular although it didn't really come into its own in sales terms until the turbo came out.

BTW, at less than 40, you are way younger than I. :)

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

 

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The Elite was a failure sales wise, I don't think it even sold a quarter of planned production. Strange isn't it that Lotus should be the same as other exotic manufacturers in that their proposals for executive carriages (Espada, Quattroporte, Lagonda etc) were always outsold by their less practical mid engined brothers. However image wise they probably succeeded in suggesting their makers did the full rsngeHowever that doesn't mean there is not a market for a 4 seater in the modern idiom, ie a bit more basic, "Elise-like", a sports tourer with a backpack if you like. In my mind I have something of the size of an RX8, but employing Lotus lightweight principles,I find it hugely disappointing that one of the reasons given by Lotus for the latest cars not going the 4 seater route is that they don't want to be in competition with 2nd hand Aston DB7s, XKs and 911s. As Bibs said somehwre previously this whole business of comparison with used cars is daft as many people will always want new cars otherwise they wouldn't make them! Besides I don't want an Aston (even if I could afford one), I want a Lotus for a whole variety of reasons that a Maserati 3200 will never match. Am I alone?

Actually, the Espada and Quattroporte were the two best selling models from their respective makers in the day. Probably due to marketing and "flash factor" such models (like the Elite) seem to fade from memory, leaving most people to under rate their importance. Those were "bread & butter" models, that helped carry the companies through. Still, I'm not sure a front engined four seat Lotus (especially with Toyota power) would be much of a winner today. The marketing climate is much different now, with much more performance expected in common mass market products. I think a niche market player like Lotus would have a very hard time competing without keeping their product aimed at the "exotic" end of the market. Such a product is risky even for Porsche now, and they have vast resources at hand.

Cliff

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Sorry, Dermot. I didn't mean to be rude. I'm not that familiar with all you new, young owners of Elites and Excels. I was thinking more of the times we had written on the Lotus Esprit Forum about how good and under-rated those two cars are.

I don't think anything was ever wrong with the Elite concept but it got a bad reputation for poor reliability and low-rpm performance early on which did it no good and this, together with the high price, certainly didn't help the sales of the car. While the early Esprits got a similar reputation, it's supercar looks and the fact that it was an impractical sports car, and, so, was seen more as a second car, helped it stay popular although it didn't really come into its own in sales terms until the turbo came out.

BTW, at less than 40, you are way younger than I. ;)

None taken:)

PS I've been to ABQ many times and never seen a Lotus there. You must keep it well hidden.

Dermot

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