It’s taken a while for the Elan’s Peter Stevens-penned lines to mature into mainstream popularity, but where the MX-5 looks delicate and non-intimidating, the Elan looks squat, pugnacious and ready for a fight. You have entered an incorrect email address! Being so low slung, the potential for impact damage is pretty high, especially on the front bumper and the rubber lip that lines its lower edge. • Body panels: it’s a similar story for the glassfibre body pannels and shell, which has so far proved itself to be remarkably durable, meaning full restoration is almost unheard of. Can I get a warranty on a 30 year old campervan? Lotus made a loss on every one of the 3855 Elans sold, so it was abandoned after two years. Failure of the cam angle sensor oil seal can leak oil onto the right-hand side of the engine (although it’s an easy enough repair), but evidence of oil leaks anywhere else is bad news.
Such over-engineering is great news if you fancy dipping your toe in the Lotus waters, but don’t want something older and potentially more fragile.
As a matter of course, it’s always advisable to allow an M100’s fuel pump to prime fully before starting, especially when the engine is hot. If Ant can get the engine and suspension back to glory, then Mike is convinced that … Should I worry about buying a classic with the changes to grades of fuel?
1994: The Elan is put back into production, to use up remaining stocks of engines and gearboxes.
This is called a ‘prongeron’ and cars left the factory with a sticker affixed to it declaring ‘Do Not Jack’ for a reason: jacking damage here is a clear indication that a car has either been maltreated or maintained by a garage that isn’t a Lotus specialist. More commonly, the fault can sometimes be traced to a simple broken wire leading to the headlight pods themselves. After decades of rear-driven Elans, this smacked of heresy at the car’s 1989 launch, and although Lotus stood stubbornly by its decision throughout the M100’s life, it can surely be no coincidence that every other Lotus since then has been rear-driven. But to dismiss it as a niche bagatelle – something to choose only if you absolutely, positively MUST be seen as slightly left field at all times – is to sell it woefully short. • Electric motors: motors for the windows and headlamps can also play up. The engine should be relatively clean and completely free from oil leaks. Has the opinion-dividing Lotus Elan M100 finally come of age? • Chassis: the chassis was galvanised when new, and which so far has shown no inclination to corrode. The Elan’s perceived dynamic shortcomings are two-fold – the driving position is set well back, with the driver seemingly far away from the curved windscreen. A limited edition of 800 Series 2 (S2) M100 Elans was released during the Romano Artioli era (produced June 1994–September 1995) when it was discovered that enough surplus engines were available to make this possible. There are loads of them for sale at any one time, and very few are neglected basket-cases. Very impressive? The Elan was regarded as a good product in a bad market, but was also very expensive to make (the cost to design and produce the dashboard alone was more than the total cost of the Excel production line), and sales figures were too low to recoup its huge development costs.Altogether 3,855 Elans were built between November 1989 and July 1992, including 129 normally aspirated (non-turbo) cars. Thanks to its rave reviews, the M100 Elan initially sold in reasonably big numbers in the UK and Europe. While you’re supine beneath the front of a prospective purchase, examine the longitudinal metal structure that forms the engine bay’s underframe. 1999: The final front-wheel-drive Elan is built. The innovative front-drive Lotus Elan thoroughly deserves the emotive name of the most successful Lotus production car, for it successfully challenges many traditional sports car engineering assumptions in a manner that surely would have earned the approval of founder Colin Chapman. Things were to change however with the purchase of Lotus by Bugatti, who decided to once again start up production. The engine should be relatively clean and completely free from oil leaks. CTRL + SPACE for auto-complete. MIKE LE CAPLAIN decides. Is your car suffering from a smoky exhaust? • Interior: the interior can also give problems, while it also doesn’t take much to start looking tatty.
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