Mods and Con­se­quences

Lo­tus Elan M100

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Contents - Richard Dredge

The Lo­tus Elan M100 is an in­trigu­ing propo­si­tion. The only front-wheel drive car to be pro­duced by the Hethel, Nor­folk-based com­pany, there was much mut­ter­ing when it was in­tro­duced. The idea of a Lo­tus with power go­ing to the front seemed like sac­ri­lege at the time but en­thu­si­asts needn’t have wor­ried – it’s not as though the bods at Lo­tus didn’t know how to set up a chas­sis. At launch in 1989, there were two vari­a­tions on the theme; a nor­mally-as­pi­rated 130bhp edi­tion or a tur­bocharged car with 165bhp. Both used an Isuzu-sourced 1.6-litre four-cylin­der en­gine, co­de­named 4XE1-MT, and un­sur­pris­ingly it’s the tur­bocharged ver­sion that’s by far the most com­mon.

Com­pact, light and durable, the en­gine is very re­li­able in stan­dard form and can be fet­tled to pro­duce a lit­tle extra power, pro­vided you are not silly about it.

Just 3855 ex­am­ples of the Se­ries 1 were built be­fore pro­duc­tion ground to a halt in 1992 when Gen­eral Mo­tors sold Lo­tus to Bu­gatti. The lat­ter then rein­tro­duced the Elan, now in Se­ries 2 form, in 1994. This time just 800 cars were made, still with the same en­gine and gear­box, but there was re­cal­i­brated power steer­ing, stiffer sus­pen­sion and an over­hauled dash­board. Pro­duc­tion ended in 1996 but it was re­vived in 1997, this time by Kia. The Korean com­pany man­u­fac­tured its own ver­sion of the fron­twheel drive Elan un­til 1999, but it didn’t bring the car to Europe.

Be­low are the seven key ways of mak­ing your FWD Elan bet­ter, but there are other tips worth con­sid­er­ing. Fresh door seals will help keep the cabin dry, fit­ting irid­ium spark plugs will burn the fuel more cleanly. and stamped num­ber plates are worth­while, es­pe­cially at the back. where the heat un­der the Per­spex cover tends to lead to the reg­u­lar plastic plate dis­in­te­grat­ing.

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