7 Of The Best Lotus Sold On CC (2)

Many high-end and performance car manufacturers seem intent on relentlessly trying to ‘improve’ the most popular models by adding more power, more technology, more unnecessary options – and worst of all, more weight.

However, as Chris Harris discovered in his test drive of the Toyota GR86 (check out the video here), sometimes it's worth remembering that the best formula for a truly enjoyable sports car can often be the simplest. You might not have the most powerful car, but the combination of having a great engine, an engaging manual gearbox, and a beautifully balanced chassis, means that you’ll be having more fun than most on the road.

One marque that has remained largely true to this ethos is Lotus, which for decades has been producing some of the most rewarding sports cars on the market. For this delve through the archives, we’re looking at some of the very best of the lightweight British marque to be sold on Collecting Cars.

While you might have thought that the correct plural is ‘Lotuses’, the company itself issued a press notice decades ago confirming that the plural was simply ‘Lotus’ – and if it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for us.

1962 Lotus Elite Series II SE

This beautifully restored Elite Series II in the desirable high-performance ‘SE’ guise was brought to market in May 2021. A cherished car; it had spent 20 years of its life in the renowned collection of Malcolm Ricketts, and had been with the fourth owner for seven years.

Under the bonnet sat a naturally aspirated Coventry Climax inline-four engine, which had been upgraded and increased from 1.2-litre to 1.5-litre capacity by John Exley Developments. As the desirable ‘SE’ model it also benefitted from twin SU carburettors and a four-speed ZF manual transmission. In a move to improve reliability and handling, this car had also been upgraded with an electric fuel pump and cooling fan, as well as adjustable shock absorbers.

Understood to retain its original body, engine block and transmission, it had been treated to a top-end engine rebuild, all the suspension and brake components improved and refurbished, as well as a complete electrical overhaul. It was no doubt an impressive example of the breed, and it was secured with a winning bid of £60,000.

1984 Lotus Esprit Turbo

From the rounded lines of the Elite to the iconic wedge-era aesthetic, this well-maintained and highly original Esprit Turbo was offered for sale in February 2022. It was confirmed as being the eighth of only 10 UK-market 1984 Turbos to leave the factory with black paintwork, black decals and gold half-leather upholstery, as per the marque’s famous JPS (John Player Special) colour scheme.

The paintwork has been refreshed, but inside showed a time-earned patina. Notably, this Esprit’s 2.2-litre turbocharged inline-four engine had also undergone a significant rebuild between March 2021 and January 2022, at a cost of over £10,000. Accompanied by a Lotus Certificate of Provenance and an excellent history file, it attracted plenty of attention, drawing over 8,000 views before the hammer fell at £30,500.

2000 Lotus 340R

Jumping forward several decades, we have this well-maintained and very low-mileage example of the rare and visually striking Lotus 340R. Brought to market in April 2021, the car had been with its owner at the time for 10 years, with the odometer showing just 5,856 miles from new.

Initially introduced as a concept car in 1998, the 340R was later released to the public with a limited production run of just 340 examples, all of which sold out before they were even built. Based on the ever-popular Elise, it featured a stripped-back shell with no roof or doors, alongside a free-revving 1.8-litre Rover K-Series inline-four coupled to a close-ratio five-speed manual gearbox.

Fitted with an aftermarket 2bular exhaust but otherwise in remarkably original condition, this 340R was sure to make an excellent weekend toy or track day companion, and was secured with a winning bid of £58,000.

2001 Lotus Exige S1 - Ex Chris Harris

Low mileage from new and well-documented provenance? No wonder this Exige S1 drew so much attention. Listed in the UK in May 2022, this featherweight sports car was delivered new to Chris Harris who was then Deputy Road Test Editor of Autocar, where he had the car on test as a ‘long termer’ for six months. After its duties were over, Chris purchased the car, and at the time of sale it had been with its third owner for nearly 20 years.

One of just 604 examples built, this Exige S1 showed just over 20,000 miles on the odometer and had travelled just 5,000 miles in the seller’s long-term ownership. It benefitted from a replacement engine at 6,100 miles and was fitted with the ultra-close ratio gearset at the same time.

Despite having been used sparingly, this Exige S1 had still been cherished with regular maintenance to keep it in top mechanical fettle. During its time on Collecting Cars, this sports car understandably garnered significant attention, racking up over 10,000 views, and going on to sell with a winning bid of £37,500.

2004 Lotus Esprit V8 ‘Final Edition’

Moving on to an even rarer model; this Esprit V8 ‘Final Edition’ was offered for sale in the Czech Republic in June 2023. It was an exceptionally rare modern classic, confirmed by Lotus to be number 71 of only 79 ‘Final Edition’ cars built, of which just three were specified in Racing Green Metallic, and this car being the only one of those with a bold red leather interior.

Originally built to US federal specification, this left-hand-drive Esprit was understood to have been supplied new to the Middle East, and it featured the rare glass roof option. It was even part of a celebration photoshoot alongside car number 79, where they were pictured with the Lotus factory team behind these special vehicles.

Offered at the time of sale with a mere 998 miles on the clock, this remarkable example benefitted from significant recommissioning work in 2019, which included the engine and gearbox being removed, with any parts needing replacement due to age rectified, before the engine was reinstalled and dynamometer tested. It was an extremely rare opportunity for marque collectors, and as a result it achieved an impressive sale price of €97,108.

2018 Lotus 3-Eleven

Lotus sports cars have almost always embodied Colin Chapman’s famous quote of “Simplify, then add lightness”, and one model that took this to extremes was the 3-Eleven. This superb one-owner example of the featherweight performance hero was brought to market in January 2022, and had covered just 2,375 miles from new.

Revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the 3-Eleven featured a more powerful version of the Evora 400’s 3.5-litre supercharged V6 combined with entirely new carbon-fibre bodywork capable of generating 150kg of downforce at 150mph, and it was fitted with a large rollover hoop and an integrated roll cage.

Number eight of only 311 examples built, this Heritage Metallic Green car featured Schroth harnesses, a Momo steering wheel, a configurable TFT dashboard display, Öhlins two-way adjustable dampers, AP Racing brakes, lightweight forged alloy wheels, and a variable traction control system. Remaining entirely original and meticulously cared-for, it saw strong bidding, before the hammer fell at £78,000.

2019 Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25

Rounding out this list is another special limited edition: the Exige Cup 430 Type 25. Brought to market in November 2021, this dynamic sports car was number nine of only 25 such models built to celebrate the successful Type 25 Formula One racer, which won the marque two Drivers’ Championships and two Constructors’ titles.

Powered by a supercharged 3.5-litre V6, delivering 430bhp to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, this Exige Cup 430 was capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in just 3.3 seconds courtesy of its impressive power-to-weight ratio.

At the time of the sale the odometer showed just 2,850 miles from new, which was supported by a full Lotus main dealer maintenance history. The car was viewed over 8,000 times during its time on the site, and it sold with a hammer price of £86,500.

Offering famed driver-focused analogue driving experiences, Lotus sports cars have always held a special place in the hearts of many enthusiasts, and if you’re in the market for your own piece of British motoring pleasure then make sure to watch any listings in our Coming Soon section. Or, if you’re looking to sell a low-mileage, well-maintained Lotus then get in touch with one of our Consignment Specialists today, to see how we can help you achieve a great result at auction.

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