By on April 8, 2015

 

Another red ragtop? What is this guy thinking? I promise. I’m not a hairdresser, or whatever BS-esque image you might have of me.

I just dig small, unusual, cheap cars that are fun to drive on the street.

Today, we look at the M100 Elan. Seriously overshadowed by the Miata–which aped the OG Elan–this turbo-Isuzu-engined roadster was largely derided in contemporary reports, primarily because it was Lotus’ first car with front wheel drive. Most people I’ve known who’ve driven these tell me that it drives beautifully–a little torque steer, but nothing too bad. Some have even compared it to the Integra Type-R–well known as one of the best FWD handlers around.

This particular Elan has less than thirteen thousand miles on the GM parts-bin odometer. Seems a shame that this car has only had a couple tanks of fuel run through it every year. The ad claims the car has fresh tires, but is otherwise original. Could this be a future collectible? Or, at nearly $22k, will this continue to sit on the lot?

 

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61 Comments on “Crapwagon Outtake: Sacrilege?...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Or, at nearly $22k, will this continue to sit on the lot?”

    HAHAHAHAH

    What is this thing, a purple B-body 5k miles Impala SS underneath? This is like that Jalopnik thread Great Buy or Crack Pipe, or whatever it’s called.

    CP.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The only reason I can imagine to buy this rather than a Miata (of any generation) is hipster d!ck waving: “My car is rarer than yours.”

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Well here’s a reason : One assessment: http://petrolblog.com/2011/10/david-milloys-position-on-the-lotus-elan-m100-2/

      Obviously at 22k this is too expensive. But the idea that the Miata was an Elan is a joke unless you’re looking through disney goggles. The idea that FWD is inherently inferior to RWD is also mistaken.

      This is a lotus: fast, light and very good handling.

      • 0 avatar
        ...m...

        …how’s it handle?..well enough to be outright banned from SCCA solo stock classes, that’s how well…

        …the M100 is a serious driver’s car, and something of a unicorn these days…

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I agree there’s no inherent superiority of RWD… except in this sort of application. I still don’t understand what this car does better than a Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        Car-los

        Thanks probert! That was a very cool article on the Elan!

      • 0 avatar

        From a styling standpoint, there’s no question that the original Miata was based on the Elan. I was told that by none other than Tom Matano, who designed the first Miata. Mechanically, though, other than the Miata having a DOHC four and disc brakes all around, it’s not much of an Elan copy. That honor goes to the Toyota 2000GT, mechanically a 6 cylinder Elan.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Other than the fact that the designer admitted they used the original Elan as the car the wanted to replicate in spirit it isn’t an Elan but makes it pretty close to a modern day interpretation of the original.

        (Edit, I see Ronnie beat me to it)

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The styling was a bit influenced by the Elan, but the concept is pure MGB. Relatively ordinary sedan mechanicals wrapped in a cute roadster body sold on the relative cheap. The original Elan was far more exotic for its day than the Miata. And FAR more expensive – an Elan was more expensive than an E-type new.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      “My car is rarer than yours.”; or “Can I make you a Keurig Latte in the dealer’s lounge area as we wait for my persistent repairs?”.

      No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      Dieselkopf

      Completely agree that at 22k, this is not a good value. And you’re probably right that most of that assigned value is from its relative rarity. But I have to wonder how many people have actually had an opportunity to drive one. A lady I used to work with had one. It was in very good condition. Nice little turbo 4 in it that had been tweaked a little. She let me drive to lunch one day. Handled better than any front drive car I’ve been in since. Enough that other than not being able to light up the rear tires or use the rear biased traction to steer a little, you wouldn’t miss the RWD at all.
      I’m not calling anyone out here, just sticking up for the poor little Lotus if you look at it independent of it’s price here. I liked it and if it could be had for what similar Miata’s go for, I would have one. Partially for its rarity, partially for its handling.

  • avatar
    John R

    Crackpipe

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    The “hairdresser” bs is bs, but this is a pos.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Cute and rare, but let’s face it, God did not intend for Lotus to build a fwd car. You could buy a nice 4 grand Miata, and use the other 18k for a pretty decent Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger hoonmobile.

  • avatar

    For that much money you can buy an original 1960s Elan in decent shape that will have a lot more upside potential in terms of price. A really nice Elan will go for about $40K these days so $22K should get you a nice driver. Though they do handle well, as a Lotus should, the FWD Elans were never embraced by Lotus aficionados so I don’t see them ever approaching what a nice RWD Elan or Europa will get.

    A Cadillac ELR is a better bet as a collectible. If I had the bucks, I’d buy two, one to keep stock and the other powered by an LS V8.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      No doubt an original Elan is more desirable – (the europa – I doubt it) – and this price is high, but it was still a very very good sports car.

      • 0 avatar

        Tastes change and now the Elan is considered an icon, but there was a time when they were cheaper than Europas. Original Elans have now appreciated beyond Europas but the Europa is still a midengined Lotus sports car and can actually pull higher g forces on a skid pad than the Elan. Would I trade an Elan even up for an Europa? No. Would I mind having an Europa in my garage? No.

        Also, in terms of collectible status, I’d say that any of the Lotus Twin Cam powered Europas would have more upside than one of the Isuzu powered FWD Elans. Even the early Europas with the Renault Gordini engines probably have more cachet, Gordini having been Renault’s racing department.

        That’s not to say that the FWD Elans are bad cars, just reasons why I think they’re not as collectible as other Loti.

        BTW, the “Handling by Lotus” badge on the Isuzu cars actually means something besides joint ownership by GM at the time, even if they weren’t quite Lotus Cortinas or Lotus Carltons.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    How nice of an S2000 can I get for $22k?

    Stay groovy.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      How much NA Miata can ya get for $22k? (Since that was the car this car competed against directly.) I bet quite a lot, a nearly new one. And it’ll be more reliable and better to drive, and made of better materials.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Only 22 grand to be mistaken for a Capri driver? Where do I sign up?

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Too much money, but then again there aren’t many of these around either. Future collectible or not is a tough game to play, considering this car is 25 years old already.

    That steering wheel is, by far, the worst part of that interior. I can deal with the plasticky and eccentric cockpit, but that steering wheel is just UGLY. And it was ugly in every other GM car it was used in.

    Every time I’ve seen a Capri, I always want it for the ugly duckling aspect. Even a decent one is cheaper than a comparable Miata and I’ve seen a few with over 150k, so they can go the distance. But then, I always come to back to how good the Miata is and why the Capri failed against it.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The mandate for airbags really killed the appearance of steering wheels.

      This one looks similar to the wheel used in the early airbag-equipped Lamborghini Diablos. At least it has some 3D sculpting.

      The most out-of-place OEM steering wheel award goes to the 1995+ Ferrari F355. It looks like it came out of a Mercedes-Benz.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I always hated the mid-late 00s MB steering wheels. Just bad design.

        http://media.ed.edmunds-media.com/mercedes-benz/clk-class/2008/oem/2008_mercedes-benz_clk-class_convertible_clk550_d_oem_1_500.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I like the big airbag steering wheels. As a kid I associated them with money since the first one I saw was in a Benz.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Agree. Those old MB ones from the early 90s, filled most of the wheel. Early 90s Audi ones were nice as well. With accompanying giant rings logo!

            http://hooniverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Fullscreen-capture-7212013-65929-AM.bmp.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Me too! That was a long, long time ago.

            My mom’s older brother had one of the first airbag-equipped Benzs.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’ll admit this car is very polarizing, something that only Lotus fans will appreciate. Still if you want to know how good Lotus is on tuning suspensions just compare this M100 to any other FWD sporting car.

  • avatar
    Chan

    A rare, good-looking and legitimate sports car despite being wrong-wheel-drive. Comparing this to other sports cars produced in larger numbers is irrelevant, kind of like cross-shopping a C4 Corvette with a Ferrari 348. Actual performance doesn’t tell the whole story.

    The asking price may be high, but that won’t stop someone from putting in an offer.

    I saw one of these a few days ago, also red. They still command attention like the baby drop-top FWD Esprit that they are!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The only way the Esprit and this Elan are similar is pop-up headlamps and the brand.

      If you take a Corvette, make it FWD, chop the roof, and add crappiness – you end up with a Cavalier. Not a “baby Corvette.”

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        So given you said yourself you have never actually seen one in person, how do you know that an M100 Elan is crappy?

        They are very well respected sports cars, despite being FWD. I do think this one might be overpriced, but I also have no real clue what the market for a nice low mileage one of these is. Given that Lotus only rarely did more than modify other companies engines, I don’t see the Isuzu engine being any kind of issue. And the results say that FWD was no handicap for these either.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    To be an appreciable collectible, a car has to be rare *and* desirable. These might drive nice, but they’re an odd footnote.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      You make an important point. People collect what they *covet*. I don’t think there are too many people for whom this is a dream car.

      For another $8k or so you can get a good, solid Elise, which is something truly special. It’s unlikely that anything quite like the Elise will be made ever again, given changes in regulations.

  • avatar
    deanst

    If you’re look for a rare crap car, it would be hard to beat the toyota sera I saw in toronto last week. Looks like a generic 90’s japanese car, but it has butterfly wings and right hand drive.

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-asian/curbside-classic-toyota-sera-%E2%80%93-wings-dont-make-it-fly/

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/cto/4937667836.html

    How about a ZR1 with a freshly upgraded engine for 75% of the price? I know someone that bought an Elise for a few bucks more than the asking price of this M100. Sure, the Elise had electrical issues and components that were aging out on an 8 year old Lotus that are lifetime on even mediocre cars, but I’m willing to speculate that the Lotuzu wasn’t made out of real materials either.

  • avatar
    jellybean

    I’ve always loved these, from the day they were new. Be better in racing green or Lotus yellow. I’ve seen many in person, up here in Vancouver, Canada, but not lately.

    It’s on my ‘dream car’ list. Along with an AMC Marlin and a 1960’s Bronco in springtime yellow.

  • avatar

    Like most people, I think it would be a fun and unique second car, but the price is way too high.

    I do find the dealer’s stock of cars rather amusing, though – everything from a half-million dollar Lamborgini Aventador to a Toyota Echo (no price given).

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      I can see how a tire kicker’s visit to this dealer might go:

      “So, you want to test drive the Aventador. *looks at tire kicker’s car* …Hmm, my manager said that car has been sold. We do have a Toyota Echo that might work out for you! How much down, and do you have a trade-in?”

      This dealer would do well to hide those kinds of cars to avoid people wasting their time.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I find it particularly annoying when dealers don’t bother to QC the data input into their ads. The car is listed as having a tan interior but it clearly does not. This is right up there with automatic-equipped cars being listed as manuals. Just lazy.

    Though, I am far less likely to be limiting my search on interior color than on transmission this is still an annoyance.

    I like this car and would love to drive it but at this price there are many other cars I’d rather have. A nice S2000 also came to mind as a car that has a lot more upside AND would be likely to be a much nicer car to live with.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Were these built in Indonesia by Proton?

    • 0 avatar

      No, they were built in Hethel while GM owned Lotus (hence the Isuzu engine), long before Proton got involved with Lotus, but Kia did buy the tooling and license from Lotus and sold the Elan in Korea in the late 1990s.

    • 0 avatar
      Ben

      Proton is Malaysian, not from Indonesia.

      If you’ve ever seen Lotus Élan in the flesh, there is no way you’d mistake it for a Capri. Far more beautiful with nice proportions.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    About as collectible as a Mercury Capri (and they look like twins, btw) or a 914.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    22k is a bit pricy for one of these. Recently I saw one listed for 15k. These do remind me of the late 90’s Alfa Spider, basically a roadster version of the GTV and 164. Very few were imported here or they arrived via grey market Canada since Alfa left the U.S market in 1995. They were FWD which is the anthisis of the “real” Spyder and had the wonderfully throaty 3.0 V6. The Capri is a bargain if you want a inexpensive weekend roadster. Just avoid the automatic transmission version which is troublesome.

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