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Pine Scented Lotus Sprint


While browsing his local craigslist, reader Mark O. was surprised to find a Lotus. It’s not pretty, but it’s a Lotus! For some that means bad wiring and a cheap interior, but this American version of the Eclat also featured some of the most advanced fiberglass technology of the day. Lotus has always been known for “adding lightness” and even though it worked great for their sports cars, we are not so sure it benefited their saloons.


All that work to make them light, made them expensive. The Eclat was as pricy as its German competitors, but the quality wasn’t quite up to snuff. California blue plates are a good sign here, but all that debris on top is not. The bodies may be fiberglass, but there is still a steel monocoque frame underneath to worry about. The design was shared with the much more sought after Elan. Too bad it didn’t inherit its good looks…


The sight of the inside of this 2+2 diminishes our hopes. Looks like a window was left down to allow the elements to enter. The pine needles may provide a nice air freshener, but we doubt the moisture is helping anything in there. This is an interesting car to come across on craigslist, but we think a Lotus enthusiast on a budget might be better off with this one.


  1. paul


    Like 1
    • paul

      Oh & next!

      Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen

      The Elite was the same basic car, but with a hatchback body. Not sure if that made it look better or worse…

      Like 1
  2. jim

    at the very best this might be a parts car but would need more pictures first. are they just taking bids as i don’t see a price listed? wonder what the blue car next to it is?

    Like 1
    • Gene

      Jim, The blue car appears to be a later series, (Chrome door handles) but probably not rubber bumper MG-B

      Like 1
  3. rustylink

    Don’t think that 70’s malaise was limited to this side of the pond.

    Like 1
  4. Dolphin Member

    It’s a blue-plate Southern California car!

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    • Larry

      Would that make it a “Blue Plate Special” ?

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      • Robert J

        Even if this special was free, it would be a bad deal. This coming from a Lotus lover.

        Like 1
  5. rancho bella

    oh……..me thinks it is a pepper tree. The Lotus, parts car.

    Like 1
  6. stigshift

    That’s not pine, that’s lemon you smell.

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    • Jesse Mortensen

      Good one!

      Like 1
  7. rancho bella

    stigshift………it took me a minute………….that was priceless

    Like 1
  8. paul

    I like the new format with other like model listings, Jesse.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen

      Thanks Paul, it seemed like all our research and everyone’s great comments were going to waste. Now hopefully people will go back and read some of the older stuff too.

      Like 1
  9. mbell

    For both these cars the real question is if the chassis is good. A reasonable Eclat is basically a 10k+, a replacement chassis is about 10k. I’ve seen comments about the felt between the chassis and body trapping moisture and taking out the chassis.

    There one on the Austin craigslist for 2.5k, none runner and needs new interior. The ad really doesn’t inspire you find out more…..

    Like 1
  10. erikj

    stingshift: you just made my laugh for the day!!! THANKS

    Like 1
  11. krash


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  12. Horse Radish

    As a owner of sorts I got to leave a little note.
    I am not qualified to speak on how they drive, as MOST are non runners and that includes mine.
    I don’t know if it’s wiring problems, the switch to unleaded gasoline (first year 1977 with Cat. Converters ), bad build quality or what.
    But I always had plans to revive mine to find out.
    Can anybody give SPECIFICS, other than your usual lemon, Lukas fibs ?
    Does anybody here REALLY KNOW what the story is on these ??
    I know there aren’t too many.
    Was that for a reason, or just too expensive for what you got ?

    Like 1
    • paul

      I find it’s always good to find a club that is brand specific or at least a club that has in this case a bunch of English cars also look around for independent shops that work on this stuff.

      Like 1
    • Tim Engel

      I have two Eclats and an Esprit S2. I autocrossed ’em all, so I have driving experience on the edge as well as normal street driving. Back in the day, the Eclat and the later Excel were said to handle better than the Esprit. And that Chapman liked to be seen in the Esprit, but he preferred to drive the Eclat. My personal opinion… it’s all true. The stock Eclat does handle better than the Esprit. And the Esprit is no slouch. That’s all true on the road or a track, but Eclat’s longer wheelbase eats away at that advantage on a really tight, parking lot autocross course.

      The Eclat’s front suspension and steering geometry are special. Chapman always has some recent theory he was playing with, and at the time of the Elite-Eclat, he was playing with Ackerman/ Anti-Ackerman steering. At slow, parking lot speeds, it feels like the left & right are fighting each other, ‘binding up’, then lurching free, it’s weird. But as you get up to ‘driving’ speed, something happens, and it really works. You need to experience it to fully comprehend; but it’s got the ‘best’ turn-in, feedback, handling I’ve experienced.

      For the record, my 4-seat Eclat was a little lighter than my Esprit S2. And the Eclat has nearly perfect 50-50 weight distribution.

      All 907s have hardened valve seats, so unleaded fuel isn’t a problem. The 907 is a ‘sports car’ engine. It doesn’t have a lot of torque down low, but it loves to rev right past it’s 7000 rpm red line. If you want a relaxed luxury car, this isn’t it. If you want a 4-seat sports car, one that handles better than the Esprit, then the Eclat is right for you. Put your foot to the floor, and stir the gear lever like crazy.

      As Federal emissions standards became more and more strict, the 907 was repeatedly de-tuned to pass. The last itteration screwed with the cam timing, neutered the ignition timing, leaned out the fuel mixture to “dry”… that one spec earned the 907 the nickname, “The Torqueless Wonder”. But all the parts are there, and in most states, the cars are now old enough not to have to pass an annual emissions test. In that case, change all the settings back to where they were meant to be, and the 907 is a fun little engine.

      It has Britcar Lucas electrics. People love to make fun of anything, and there are books of jokes about Lucas electrics. They are a little funky, but reality is far better than the jokes and ignorant comments make it out to be. The problem with all Lotus is that they’re smaller than competitive cars, which makes access a problem. It helps to have a 10 year old who likes working on cars. Having said that, the Eclat is much easier to work on my Eclat than my Europa.

      You asked, “Can anybody give SPECIFICS”. That sounds like a book in the making, and more than it is reasonable to post here. Suffice it to say, the Eclat is a nice driver when in good condition. But it requires routine maintenance and doesn’t tolerate being ignored. It also likes being driven, and fades away in Garage Queen storage. If you’re up to the task, it’s a great driving experience. And it’s a better car than ignorant humor implies.

      Only 337 Federal spec Eclats were built, and they also served about a half dozen other markets with more strict emissions standards (Canada, Japan, Switzerland, others… ???). So something less than that number actually came to the USA. Don’t relegate too many of them to parts car status, or there won’t be any cars left to put the parts on.

      Like 1
  13. Chris H.

    Since when does mildew have a pine scent? Run! Far, far away!

    Like 1
  14. Horse Radish

    I see that no one ever responded to my comments a couple of years ago.
    I remember a Lotus eclat like this one (same color) in the SF bay area 4 sale looks like it traveled to be left under a tree to die…….
    I wonder if anyone saved this…..

    Like 1

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