The Lotus Elite is a nameplate used and applied by the British car manufacturer Lotus Cars for its vehicles from 1957 to 1963 and 1974 to 1982.
History of the Lotus Elite
Lotus Elite Type 14 (1957–1963)
Lotus had only been in the auto industry for five years when it debuted the Type 14-Elite as a road-legal race car at the 1957 London Motor Show. The body-on-frame design was still widely used by automakers in 1957. Their vehicles were so heavy that only powerful engines could get them moving at a rate slightly faster than a train. As an established Formula 1 team, Lotus quickly realized that excessive horsepower might lead to disaster, whereas a lightweight car, despite its lack of acceleration, would undoubtedly improve in subsequent races. A year had been spent on the Elite's development with input from "carefully selected racing customers" before it was released to the public. The Elite, often known as the Lotus Type 14, was a lightweight two-seater coupé that saw production from 1957 to 1963. The 1.2L inline-4 engine is tucked neatly under the hood by Lotus. It was fed by a set of SU carburetors with two barrels each. Due to its lightweight and low drag-resistance coefficient of just 0.29, the car achieved astonishing speeds, given its relatively small engine size.
Lotus Elite Types 75 and 83 (1974–1982)
The four-seat Type 75 and, later, the even more luxurious Type 83 Elite were manufactured by Lotus from 1974 to 1982. With this model, Lotus aimed to distance itself from its roots as a kit-car manufacturer and enter the luxury market. In May 1974, the Elite was introduced. Its predecessor, the Lotus Elan Plus 2, had been in production for some time and was ready for retirement. The Lotus Elite from 1973 was the most expensive and elegant Lotus model ever made.
In 1973, Lotus released the Elite to enter the high-end sports car market. The Lotus group collaborated with Giorgetto Giugiaro's ItalDesign Studio to create this. When Lotus founder Collin Chapman devised the suspension for the Elite, it was one of the last cars he was involved in building. Under the hood, Lotus fitted one of its best engines, a 2.0L naturally aspirated unit capable of 155 horsepower. The Esprit utilized this engine design, later on, all the way up until production stopped in 1981. The 4-cylinder engine came standard with a 5-speed manual transmission; a 6-speed was an available upgrade. In 1976, a three-speed automatic gearbox became available.
A used Lotus Elite ranges from $42,000 to $200,000. Recently, a 1960 Lotus Elite Le Mans LX 2.0L vehicle was sold for a staggering $237,927.
The Elite was unlike other sports cars; it had a distinctive shooting-brake silhouette and a large glass panel that doubled as a tailgate. Its aerodynamic design was near a Cx of 0.30 and didn't have a sloping back. That's very remarkable considering the historical period. The chassis onto which the fiberglass exterior was mounted was the same one found in the Elan and the Europa. The headlights would spring up as needed, which was also a peculiar addition.
Due to its shooting-brake shape, the Elite was one of the few sports vehicles available that could comfortably seat four people.
Specs and Performance of the Lotus Elite
- 2.0L Lotus 907 I4
- 2.2L Lotus 912 I4 (from 1980)
The Lotus Elite's 2.2-liter engine delivers 210 hp (157 kW) at 6,000–6,500 rpm and 200 lb-ft (271 Nm) at 4,000–4,500 rpm of torque. Lotus Cars marketed the Elite as a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vehicle, and it was available with a 5-speed manual transmission. The Lotus Elite accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 kph) in 5.7 seconds, with a top speed of 153 mph (246 kph). Dimension-wise, the Lotus Elite measures 4,470 mm (176.0 in) long, 1,820 mm (71.7 in) wide, and 1,210 mm (47.6 in) high. Its wheelbase measures 2,490 mm (98.0 in) and has a curb weight of 2,452–2,575 lbs (1,112–1,168 kg).
Lotus Cars released the Lotus Elite from 1957 to 1963 and 1974 to 1982. It was discontinued after the 1982 model year.