NOT ONE CAR on this page is a Lotus. Yet in one way or another they all are. The first-generation Mazda MX-5 famously took the best bits of the Lotus Elan and remixed them with Japanese dependability. Now almost 30 years old, it’s a classic in its own right, and still a delight to drive. Prices start from just £1000.
The Vauxhall VX220 and Caterham are Lotuses in a more literal sense – the former a sister model to the second-generation Elise, the latter picking up directly where the Lotus 7 left off. But each has a distinct character of its own. Today, you’ll get in a VX220 from £7k, and there have been so many Caterham 7 variants produced over so many years that you’re sure to find a car on-budget. Somewhere between £10k and £50k will give you a good variety of appealing engine and body options.
These exceptional sports cars are united by all being rear-wheel-drive roadsters that shun weight and embrace excitement, with the focus firmly on purity and passion for driving. Colin Chapman would recognise all three as being in the true Lotus spirit.
The virtuous circle of small engines, modest tyre diameters and tiny brakes means you won’t blow the bank when you indulge, adding to the feelgood factor and the reasons to buy.
Over the page, we show you how…