Mods and Consequences
Lotus Elan M100
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.