There I was, enjoying the full dealership experience at a Porsche Centre, when I spotted a Lotus Elan+2 parked in the customer bay. It was well used, with mud all over its less than perfectly painted sills. A working, everyday Lotus and, like most of them, pretty and sensational value. Because Geely money might turn Lotus into a proper car company again, maybe values will shoot up, so perhaps we should buy now.
Elise models in all their multiple versions have been the core for Lotus enthusiasts over the past few decades and the appeal is fairly obvious. Prices have certainly firmed up in the past few years and the starting money is now around £13,000 for an example from 2000 onwards. I saw a 2000 Millennium edition, of which there were apparently only 50 made, with 80,000 miles and unique Atlantic Blue Pearl paint. It featured the 111S front end and headlight covers as standard, plus larger, OZ wheels and fancy blue Alcantara cabin trim. It had had three owners, a full history and all for £13,500.
When it comes to the Exige, you need to find another £10,000 to join the club: £23,995 buys you a basic 1.8. One of the cheaper ones I saw, a 2006 car, had a genuine 53,000 miles and one owner. Even so, a 2015 350 Sport isn’t that pricey, especially with added Race and Premium packs. The specification went on for pages and you wonder how they pack all that into something so small. Yours for £37,995 with 14,000 miles showing.
There are not many Europas about, but the Evora is a sort of reasonable entry-level commuter Lotus that isn’t yet another Porsche 911, although there may be the whiff of adhesive. A 2010 3.5 with 38,000 miles at £24,990 seems like astounding value. This one was at an independent dealer so had a three-month warranty, which is a good start. Best to buy more if you can.
Then again, I do like the look of the related Europa S and an independent dealer had a 2007 one with just 34,000 miles for £24,450. It had had four previous owners but a very detailed list of recent work, including the addition of a sports exhaust and milled gear knob. Worth buying and really using.
Then there is the Elan. This really should be the core Lotus model and the last fat ones are £7000-plus. They are all 1.6 SE models and the most interesting one I found had an impressive 128,000 under its wheels. Not only that, a full rebuild 5000 miles ago might make you swerve away from a recent Mazda MX-5. Asking price? A solid but fair £12,500.
So there you go. There’s no point going too far back in Lotus history as there seem to be everyday examples at very reasonable money. If you’re for or against later Lotuses, let me know.
What we almost bought this week
Hyundai Accent 1.3 Coupé: For the price of a PCP deposit (£790), it's a 33,000-mile two-owner super-reliable runabout with full service history. The Accent isn't the most stylish conveyance but the coupé model is at least tidy looking. Jump in this 2000 example and laugh in the face of monthly payments as you coax it up to 60mph.