LO­TUS ELAN M100

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Brit Ragtops For £5k - MIKE LE CAPLAIN PRO­DUC­TION ED­I­TOR

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.

BUY­ING TIPS

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”

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