10k: Fun Until Your Friends Find Out: 1991 Lotus Elan Turbo

Owning the best front wheel drive car ever built is a somewhat dubious honor that you may want to hide from your gearhead buddies.  It is like dating a well done post-op transexual female, sure it’s gorgeous and fun to ride, but you don’t want to let your friends know what evil lurks between the shock towers.  In the case of the Lotus, it is an Isuzu 4-banger powering the front wheels – heinous stuff indeed, born from a time when Isuzu was putting “Handling by Lotus” badges on its own cars.  The truth is that Lotus Cars, a small firm in Norwich, UK, just didn’t have the resources to build an entire vehicle so they used badge prostitution, legacy-for-hire and parts bingineering to build the first and only front drive Lotus.  Find this 1991 Lotus Elan Turbo for sale in Baltimore, MD for $10,500 via craigslist.

The problem with the M-100 Elan wasn’t that it was a bad car per se, in fact it was faster than a Honda CRX and better in every conceivable way to a Ford EXP…but..it was positively obliterated by the Toyota MR2 and Mazda MX-5 in performance, cost, durability, reliability…et cetera.  Today, the only thing the Elan has “going for it” is that it is rare…because it was such a turd when new and no one wanted it. Beauty, in this case, is only fiberglass composite deep.

At least the 160 horsepower turbocharged version (which coincidentally shares an engine with the Impuse RS from our last Unicorn hUnters feature) with only 2400 lbs to haul around is reasonably quick.  See a better example of the motor-scooter rule? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com