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Lotus Elan Images and Technical Specification

 

 

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History

The second Lotus Elan (known as the M100 Elan), released in 1989, was a technical tour de force and defined Lotus' "performance through light weight" tradition, although the base car was heavier, and had a lower power to weight ratio than a Mazda Miata. Its styling by Peter Stevens, who was also responsible for the redesign of the Lotus Esprit, was also controversial. Lotus Engineering had spent five years in tuning other cars and they put the knowledge from that into the new Elan. They wanted a very rigid chassis and used their gained knowledge to create a roadster chassis as rigid as a coupé. The idea of a front-wheel drive Lotus, powered by an Isuzu turbocharged engine and motivated by an Isuzu five speed transmission, was a brave concept and its cornering performance was undeniable (on release the Elan was described by Autocar magazine as "the quickest point to point car available"). However the handling was negatively compared to the original Elan by the press, often being accused of lacking driver feedback.[citation needed] According to Lotus sales literature, "The ride and handling engineers at Lotus found that for a given vehicle weight, power and tyre size, a front wheel drive car was always faster over a given section of road. There were definite advantages in traction and controllability, and drawbacks such as torque steer, bump steer, and steering kickback were not insurmountable." [1] This was the only front wheel drive vehicle made by Lotus. Every model made since the M100 Elan, such as the Lotus Elise, has been rear wheel drive. The relatively high price of the M100 Elan (vs. e.g. the Mazda Miata), along with the mixed reviews and the downturn in the global economy in 1992, particularly in the USA, meant it was not a sales success, list price being around $40,000 similar to that of the Elise when launched in the USA over 10 years later. Although Arne Talbot of Lotus Cars USA cited US sales of 1,500 units in 1991, and though Lotus Cars USA issued a statement that they sold more than 2,000 Elans in the US in 1991 and 1992, these US figures are inaccurate and massively inflated. Lotus UK archives (backed by all other manufacturer's records and by recall data) indicate total production of 3,855 vehicles from November 1989 - July 1992. Included in this 3,855 total is the series 1 production of 129 normally aspirated examples built for the UK market only. In 1991 (the only year the vehicles were available in the USA), Lotus UK records indicate that 559 Elans were sold into the US market. 800 S2s were also built, none of them for the US. US market vehicles featured a 'stage 2 body' which had a different rear boot spoiler arrangement together with a lengthened nose to accommodate a USA compliant crash structure and 16" wheels instead of the UK car's 15". Far East market cars combined the UK/Europe nose and wheels with the US boot arrangement. Engine: The M100 Elan used a 1588 cc twin-cam 16-valve turbocharged engine, sourced from the Isuzu Gemini (a third generation of this engine was later used in the Isuzu Impulse), which produced 162 horsepower (121 kW). 0-60 acceleration time was measured by Autocar and Motor magazine as 6.5 s, and a top speed of 137 mph (220 km/h) was recorded. In June 1992 Elan production ceased due to economic conditions and a desire by the then owner of Lotus, General Motors, to reduce losses which amounted to some 36 million UK pounds over the period the Elan was in production. In 1996 and 1997, Kia Motors built the Elan under license as Kia Elan for the Korean market, using a 151 horsepower (113 kW) 1.8 L engine instead of the Isuzu made 1.6. Series 2 M100 Elan: 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 engines were available to make this possible. According to Autocar magazine, the S2 addressed some of the concerns over handling, but the 0-60 acceleration time allegedly increased to 7.5 seconds, which they thought was probably due to the legislative requirement to fit a catalytic converter in all markets. In overall performance the S2's have very similar performance to the USA vehicles, having an identical engine management system calibration and a slightly lower overall vehicle weight.

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