Rare Rides: Get Elite With Lotus and the Shooting Brake From 1974

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today’s Rare Ride is the inaugural post for Lotus in this series. We did have a brief British brush with the brand in the Isuzu I-Mark RS, which featured a suspension tuned by the then GM-owned Lotus engineering experts.

Let’s see the sort of car Lotus produced when it wasn’t under the influence of The General.

The sloping wedge we see here was the second time Lotus used the Elite name in its lineup. The first was back in the late 1950s, when the Elite was a super-light coupe weighing just 1,110 pounds. This original Elite remained in production from 1958 to 1963, when it was replaced by the entirely more famous Elan.

Lotus would leave the Elite name dormant for some time, until it was ready to use it on an entirely different sort of vehicle. Debuting for 1974, the Elite shed its light, compact coupe body for a wedge design with a hatchback. It was the sort of thing the British and select other humans call a shooting brake.

Though it was still considered a sports car, the Elite’s new persona no longer focused on being light and bare bones. Much more a luxurious grand tourer, the Elite paired its 2.0-liter inline-four engine to a manual transmission of four or five speeds, or an optional three-speed automatic. The 2.0 was a more modern engine than Lotus used in previous vehicles, featuring dual overhead cams, an aluminum block, and producing 155 horsepower. This engine would go on (with modifications) to power the Esprit.

The original, simple little Elite was turning in its grave — but that was the plan. All Elites had four comfortable seats, room for cargo, and wood on the dash. Lotus was in the middle of a product revamp and image revitalization; the goal being competition with bigger and more serious manufacturers. And those manufacturers didn’t just offer tiny composite coupes. Lotus’ rivals had larger, more serious cars with buttons embedded in their wood panel dashes.

Lotus continued with a fiberglass shell for the Elite, mounting the whole thing to a steel chassis from the predecessor Elan and Europa. The slick (though blocky) shape made for an impressive drag coefficient of just .30.

The Elite’s design had considerable input from Lotus founder Colin Chapman, and along with the similar Eclat, would become the last two roadgoing cars with significant Chapman influence.

All this design and luxury didn’t come cheap, and the Elite was the most expensive four-cylinder car available upon its introduction. Some buyers were still interested in the Elite’s funky nature, and between ’74 and its cancellation after 1982, Lotus sold 2,535 examples, and followed up the Elite with the more traditionally shaped Excel from ’82 onward.

Today’s Rare Ride is in great shape, with a bumper that looks like the texture of wet Band-Aids. It’s located south of Charlotte, which is in the United States. The owner notes just 24,000 miles on his Elite, and is willing to entertain reasonable cash offers.

What’s it worth?

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • "scarey" "scarey" on May 12, 2018

    Wow ! Looks like a stretched Pinto or maybe Gremlin. And I mean stretched by chaining one bumper to a tree and pulling on the other bumper with a monster truck.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on May 12, 2018

    That is the sexiest AMC Gremlin I have ever seen.

  • Jonathan IMO the hatchback sedans like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Kia Stinger, and the already gone Buick Sportback are the answer to SUVs. The A5 and the AWD version of the Stinger being the better overall option IMO. I drive the A5, and love the depth and size of the trunk space as well as the low lift over. I've yet to find anything I need to carry that I can't, although I admit I don't carry things like drywall, building materials, etc. However, add in the fun to drive handling characteristics, there's almost no SUV that compares.
  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars