The modern day Lotus Elise is (was…I believe Lotus stopped selling it in the US market a few years ago) a great combination of British handling/looks and Japanese powerplant. It took a while for Lotus to realize that putting French engines into their sports cars was not an upgrade over British iron. Regardless, the builder of this next car decided to put a late model fuel injected twin-cam Toyota engine into the engine bay in an Europa (a Europa…?) and made something very special. Find this 1972 Lotus Europa twin-cam offered for $20,000 in Ft Collins, CO via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
The Lotus Elite had the distinct honor of being the world’s most expensive 4-cylinder powered vehicle when it was launched in 1974…but this next version is no ordinary Elite. Not that there is ANYTHING ordinary about the front-engine 2+2 shooting brake that looks like a Pinto Wagon that has been restyled by extraterrestrials. This next one has a GM LT1 V8 shoved up front and it might look familiar to you because we featured it Dec of 2020. Find this 1991 Lotus Elite offered for $6,200 in Lexington, SC via myface friendsterbook. Tip from Mark.
I’ve purchased a few disassembled project cars over the years to question my own sanity, but I can tell you for certain that I’ve learn a few important things. The first is that you shouldn’t buy a disassembled project car and the second is…oh…that’s it. But. BUT…when I see something like this car, I can’t help but think, “how bad can it be…what if the owner DOES have all of the parts necessary to reassemble it” and then I remember that I still don’t have functioning reverse lights on a car I’ve owned for 20 years because the previous owner swapped the transmission and didn’t finish the job. But…do you know much an assembled Elan costs? Find this 1965 Lotus Elan S2 in pieces offered for $15,000 in Santa Cruz, CA via craigslist.
The Lotus Elan was a cute little twin-cam powered sports car designed by Ron Hickman and released for the 1962 model year. It was a featherweight at 1500 lbs and people raved about its performance and handling…but it had no back seat for occasional kid shuttling. Lotus fixed that in 1967 with the release of the Elan+2, which added two small back seats and some length/width/height to accommodate the new passengers. Production continued through 1975 when the Elan was replaced by the Esprit. Find this 1973 Lotus Elan+2 offered for $8,500 in Rochester, NY via craigslist. Tip from Graham.
The Lotus Eclat was in essence a Lotus Elite with a handsome fastback body shape, but it shared the Lotus 907 4-cylinder engine and lackluster build quality. Today’s example won’t change your mind about 1980s Lotus build quality, but it packs an electronic surprise under the hood. Find this 1980 Lotus Eclat offered for $6,500 in Albany, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On and Matt
You know that I’ve never been a big fan of barn finds, mostly because animals don’t belong in barns, they belong on my dinner plate — no, that’s not right. The reason I don’t like barn finds is because they represent the worst hoarders attitude in sellers and the worst rosy eye glasses attitudes in buyers. I detest it when people pay top dollar for the honor of putting beaucoup bucks into some old hulk when they could have purchased a running/driving version for less than the net sum of their investment, and don’t get me started on people trying to pass off high mile daily driven cars as barn finds with a bad advertisement and a handful of dirt. The only reason you should consider an old neglected car that has been abandoned by the seller to rot in a shed is because it is offered for free or next-to-nothing. So if you find a Lotus Europa that is offered for half the going rate of a good one…it might be worth the car wash to see if it cleans up. Find this 1972 Lotus Europa offered for $9000 in Knightsen, CA via craigslist
I wonder if someone looked at the Honda S2000 and said “this car is too heavy and too safe…I’m going to fix that.” A few hundred yards of welding rod and a few bent pieces of aluminum later this next beast emerged from the shed. With 240 horsepower from the 9000 rpm screaming Honda VTEC engine and the curb weight of a wicker basket, this thing should fly. Find this 1965 Lotus 7 Replica offered for $9,750 in Dublin, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
As European 2-door classics like Porsche 911, BMW 3.0CS and Mercedes SL have inflated into trust fund money required status, there is a little car that continues to be affordable, despite its mid-engine layout, and sub 10k production figures. It is called the Lotus Europa and Colin Chapman designed the suspension, and Ron Hickman designed the exterior. Hickman is better known for his invention of the “Workmate” — the foldable bench/vise/sawhorse design that was manufactured by Black & Decker after Hickman sold it at trade shows for a few years. Anyway, Hickman left Lotus to pursue his Workmate side hustle in 1968, but not before he penned the gorgeous lines of the Europa…but now that I look at it…I can’t help but think that rear end is just an early version of his form-follows-function industrial design work. Find this 1971 Lotus Europa S2 offered for $18,500 in Old Saybrook, CT via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
WHOA! A ’60s Lotus Elan for $10k? This thing is just a few cans of spray paint and some bed-liner to cover the frame rust away from being a $50k car on one of those fancy car auction sites. Take some dramatic photos, add a made up back story about the legacy of the previous owner and step 3 — profit. Find this 1968 Lotus Elan offered for $10,900 in Sarasota, FL via hemmings. Tip from BP.
I’ve never owned one, but have had the opportunity to go for a ride and drive a Lotus Caterham Seven (this was a late model kit car with a 300 horsepower turbo 4-cylinder modern engine) and it was exhilarating to say the least. No, it was terrifying, as a passenger or as a driver. But that was a kit car, and I prefer my cars to come with some history, some patina, some sweat equity needed, like this 1971 Lotus Seven S4 offered for $10,500 in Southeastern Arizona via craigslist.