Vintage Road & Track Review: 1975 Lotus Elite – Expensive and Slow Wedge

 

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The Lotus Elite was a big step for little Lotus, in an effort to expand its offerings beyond the ultra-light sports cars it had mostly built its reputation and business on. In some ways, it was very much in tune with the times. But its price and ambitions to be a world class GT with a 2 liter four cylinder engine was a stretch. $16,000 ($72,000 adjusted) was serious money back then, like Porsche 911 Carrera money. And the 911, also a 2+2, could run circles around the Elite. No wonder the Elite was only marginally successful.Β 

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I had a hard time getting excited about the Elite at the time; its design just didn’t resonate with me, despite its general similarity to other contemporary 2+2s like the Lamborghini Espada. Perhaps it was its scale, or just knowing that there was only a four cylinder under the hood.

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The Elite’s rear end was particularly unhappy in my eyes, having a very amateurish resolution to its wedge body. But then it’s not an easy brief, and a number of cars at the time had similar issues.

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O-60 in 11.1 seconds. Well, it was 1975, but even a Chevy Nova V8 could do better; never mind a 911.