Batch of Brits: Three Lotus Elites

As if one Lotus was not trouble enough, here’s a guy with three of the most under-doggy 1970s Lotus cars ever created. On craigslist are this set of Elites – two 1974s and one 1976. The package deal is $18,000, but the seller will separate the cars. This batch of Brits is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. The seller indicates that two of his cars run and drive; the faded red one is a non-runner. We have Anthony M. to thank for this tip! The first Lotus Elite was created in the mid-1950s from a curvaceous fiberglass monocoque shell; this car ran a four-cylinder all-aluminum engine good for 75 bhp. Early Elites are among the most desirable in the Lotus lineage, selling for high five- or low six-figures. The Elite nametag was recycled in 1974 when Lotus brought forth its four-seat (haha), front-engined fiberglass-bodied hatchback. The Elite could be had with luxury options such as air conditioning, power steering, and an automatic transmission. The concept behind the car was to move Lotus upmarket; if production is evidence of success, the total production of 2,535 cars showed the upsell strategy wasn’t terribly effective. Despite good press reviews, this car did not strike a chord with the public.

The 1974 green example hasn’t been driven much but has just over 36,000 miles. This one needs brakes. Its interior is quite good though not to the benchmark of the red car below. It does have the more desirable European bumper.

By the time this generation of Elites hit the road, it was running the Lotus type 907 2.0 liter twin cam inline four-cylinder motor affectionately named the Torqueless Wonder. Still, the engine made 155 bhp, and rowing the gears hard would rock the Elite from zero to sixty in just over eight seconds. Customers had a choice of a four- or five-speed manual; the automatic came along in 1976. This photo shows the engine in the 1976 red car; the seller says its Dell’Orto carburetors need synchronizing. This car has had suspension work. It does have minor damage to its front bumper but its interior is quite good; the seller says it has only 24,000 miles. The red car is definitely worth a hard look if a Lotus Elite has been on your shortlist.

The faded red car is a project or parts car. The seller says it is complete, but if we judge by the interior, it’s going to need a top-to-bottom restoration. If a buyer took all three, might be best to keep this one in reserve for parts. These cars don’t bring a lot of money, thanks to the ungainly body style, so restoration costs will rapidly make this an agonizing ownership experience. But if you hanker to have an oddball or three in the garage, here’s your opportunity.


  1. Mitch

    When you need a mix of dohc Jaguar-like torque band and an early
    Interceptor-like hot-hatch this is the solution for you.

  2. Mitch

    When you need a mix of dohc Jaguar-like torque band and an
    Interceptor-like early hot-hatch this is the solution for you.

    Like 1
  3. Big C

    I don’t have enough hankering for these bad boys. But I’m sure there’s somebody out there.

    Like 1
  4. drew
  5. DGMinGA

    I always thought these looked like a stretched Gremlin.

    Like 2
  6. RallyAce

    Almost as ugly as the Pontiac Aztec.

    Like 1
    • Robert R Morris

      Pontiac copied it a decade or so later and made it look awful!

  7. Howie

    I had a Europa and a 77 Elite, this is some very bad photos to sell some cars.

    Like 2
  8. Howie

    When you click on the Craig’s List ad now two Alpha Romeos come up.

    Like 4
    • douglas hunt

      came here to say same thing, was looking for pics of the back ends, as I believe the Elite has that crazy [to me] back end that I do NOT find attractive

  9. Christopher Gentry

    Craglist add is for a pair of Alfas. Both not running.

    Like 1

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