LOTUS ELAN M100
Press and public alike may still salivate over early Lotus Elans, but the poor old Nineties M100 has long been berated by the ignorant for its pugnacious looks, supposed too-safe front-drive handling and the fact that it shares its engine with an obscure Japanese coupé.
More fool them. The M100 Elan may lack the ultimate visual delicacy of its period MX-5 rival, but its shape – penned by McLaren F1 designer, Peter Stevens, no less – has matured into a sleek and purposeful roadster that has more than a whiff of fifth-gen Esprit about it.
Best of all, bag one of the popular Turbos (very few were naturally aspirated) and there’s a whopping 165bhp to play with, delivering 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds and powering on to a top speed of over 140mph. And if your idea of handling Nirvana involves zero body roll and limpet grip, then little else will be able to keep up with you in the twisties.
All this for less than £5000? Bargain.
MIND THE GAP M100 panel gaps were never great when new, especially around the headlight pods and where the hood meets the doors, but a hood that lifts along its rear edge at speed suggests a bent frame – and big repair bills.
HAS IT BEEN CRASHED? Try to get the car onto a ramp and check the oil cooler and intercooler mounted low behind the front spoiler. Impact damage here can compromise the engine and turbo.
GO NUTS Loose front hub carrier ball joints aren’t unheard of – the nuts tend to work loose – so regular tightening is essential. A car that feels loose probably hasn’t been cared for very well.
“1990 LOTUS ELAN M100 TURBO SE, £3795 62k, Calypso red, good bodywork for year, leather interior, good service history, MoT until March”