Shocking, Cool, Hot, Surprising, Sexy, Lotus.
This car was a leap into the unknown and only a dynamic English small-volume sports and racing car company could have come up with this unique little package. (Well, maybe Honda or Suzuki could have come up with something similar.)
The first thing you need to know about the M100 series Lotus Elan is that it’s front-wheel drive. Front wheel drive is an anathema to sports car enthusiasts. The engine in this Elan came out an Isuzu van, and the whole project was financed by General Motors. Front wheel drive isn’t ideal in a very fast car ~ torque steer, bump steer, lift-off oversteer, steering kickback, lack of traction…. to name a few problems.
The quickest point to point car available. ~ Autocar Magazine
Real drivers will tell you that the M100 Lotus Elan remains the best driving front-wheel drive car ever made, bar none.
Almost all the 1,588 cc dohc 16 valve engines were turobcharged. Power from the turbocharged engine comes in at a very healthy 165 bhp, and 148 ft/lbs of torque, driving through a 5 speed gearbox, and this little car weighs just about a tonne, (1,020 kilos). Flat out this Elan should almost touch 140 mph.
Like almost all Lotus, it’s a pretty fibreglass body over a steel backbone chassis, but this time there’s a clever ‘floating’ subframe to carry the engine, gearbox, and front suspension.
It’s rare. less than 5,000 built in all, (including about 800 which were built and sold by Kia).
It’s cool, and it’s cute, and it’s fairly practical, which makes it a great girl’s car. It’s also quirky, clever in engineering terms, and it’s bloody fast, which means that a real man would look good owning one of these things. Even though it’s a bit metrosexual the M100 Elan qualifies as a very cool car. Also, unlike many Lotus products, you don’t have to be a contortionist to get in and out of this Elan.
If you can find one, you can buy a decent M100 Elan for £ 5,000. But beware, it’s a Lotus, so it will go wrong and bits will fall off. And, if the backbone chassis is rusted or damanged, expect a lot of heartache and expense.
Any car which holds together for more than a race is too heavy. ~ Colin Chapman
But, and here’s the thing, the M100 was supposed to be a high-volume product, and GM / Lotus spent about $100 million developing this little Elan. This is a strong, tough, well thought out, sexy little car. Would I own one? Would I use this Elan for a transcontinental road trip? In a New York Second I would.