Home » The Front-Wheel-Drive Lotus Elan Was Technically A GM Product, As Weird As That Sounds

The Front-Wheel-Drive Lotus Elan Was Technically A GM Product, As Weird As That Sounds

Thanks Gm Elan Top
ADVERTISEMENT

It’s easy to forget just how much of a juggernaut General Motors used to be. Never mind all the mainline U.S. brands from GMC to Oldsmobile to Saturn, the sheer number of acquisitions and diversification made by the automaker was a sight to behold. While it’s common knowledge that GM bought Saab and the rights to Hummer, if you go back far enough, the firm also bought almost everything else in its portfolio. It started life as a holding company, purchasing Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Holden, the works. Beyond that, it had stakes in Isuzu, Suzuki, Subaru, the list goes on. Of course, GM’s old habit of throwing money around like it’s Magic City resulted in funding for some weird cars, including a front-wheel-drive sports car from a storied British marque. Yep, the reborn Lotus Elan was developed and launched entirely when Lotus was owned by General Motors. How about that? Welcome back to GM Hit or Miss, where we peel back the layers of an automotive giant.

So how did GM come about owning Lotus? Well, this particular chapter of the brand’s history begins on Dec. 16, 1982, the day Colin Chapman died of a heart attack. The world of sports cars lost a hero, and Lotus lost its founder. Shortly after, Lotus itself wound up in some hot water over British government subsidies taken to help develop the DeLorean, and in 1983, Lotus was on the ropes and in need of a savior. Cue David Wickins, founder of British Car Auctions.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

[Editor’s Note: One day we need to get into the rumors that Colin Chapman faked his death. Not today, but we really should. –JT]

He took on the struggling company and turned it around just far enough to sell a majority stake of Lotus to General Motors and Toyota in 1986. At the time, funding was running low to develop the ill-fated Etna project, let alone a new entry-level car, and fresh stewardship was necessary. By October of 1986, Toyota sold its stake in Lotus to GM, which allowed Lotus to then become a wholly-owned GM subsidiary by means of buying out other investors, and that’s where we pick up the story.

Spending The Big Bucks

Lotus Elan 3

ADVERTISEMENT

Flush with an injection of General Motors cash, Lotus went to the drawing board for an entry-level hand-built roadster it could sell not just in Europe, but America too. In 1986, Peter Stevens cooked up a shape that was undeniably the look of the early 1990s — rounded, wedgy, and endowed with the joy of pop-up headlights. From a visual standpoint, it was a winner, and the M100 was born. This sports car project would use a fiberglass body and a backbone chassis in Lotus tradition, but it would then deviate from the classic formula in one key way.

5

Even if Lotus was alive and kicking, it’s hard to ignore the ’80s’ radical shift in the European performance car world. Open-topped rear-wheel-drive sports cars were out, hot hatchbacks were in, and front-wheel-drive was the new hotness. Despite the layout being primarily popularized for reasons of packaging and reduced cost of assembly, it brought some novel changes in technique to driving, including correcting oversteer using the throttle. Even though it had been part of the motoring kingdom for decades, the widespread adoption of front-wheel-drive was exciting. So, it should come as no surprise that Lotus decided to use front-wheel-drive for its next entry-level model. As per Lotus:

The ride and handling engineers found that for a given vehicle weight, power and tire size, a front wheel drive car was always faster over a given section of road. There were definite advantages in traction and controllability, and the negatives such as torque steer, bump steer, and steering kickback were not insurmountable.

In addition to the benefits Lotus saw in front-wheel-drive from a dynamics perspective, using that layout would allow the firm to source powertrains from GM partner Isuzu, naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions of the 1.6-liter 4XE1 four-cylinder engine. The latter turbocharged version made a stout 162 horsepower, perfect for a car that would only weigh 2,475 pounds in federalized spec.

Lotus Elan 1

ADVERTISEMENT

In 1987, Lotus began building prototypes, and the firm would use GM’s money and facilities to test it in every condition from Arctic to desert climates. Two short years later, the car was ready, and it borrowed a name from a past legend — the Elan sports car of the 1960s. Right out of the gate, the Elan proved quick, with Car And Driver clocking a zero-to-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds for the U.S.-market version. What’s more, the Elan handled with traditional Lotus effervescence. As Car And Driver put it:

The five-speed transaxle’s shifter com­bines with the clutch action to deliver a seamless, almost effortless flow of thrust. In all transitions, from left to right, from speed to stop, and from stop to all ahead full, the Elan not only rewards smooth­ness, but encourages and abets it. Just as engineer Becker wanted, the Elan can be driven by anyone able to operate a manual-shift car. Better still, it can be en­joyed by those persons.

However, the magazine’s overall verdict on the car wasn’t entirely positive. While it was an impressive product in a vacuum, concerns over sales expectations lingered.

Lotus Cars USA hopes to sell 1000 new Elans each year, a number that would quadruple its sales volume. Are there 1000 buyers out there with $39,040 who want to spend it on a Lotus Elan? We aren’t sure. A Lotus has traditionally conferred exclusivity on its owner and given that owner certain performance re­wards. The performance rewards given by the new Elan are considerable if not spectacular. Whether it adds enough ex­clusivity to justify its price remains some­thing of a question.

Needless to say, Car And Driver was right in its suspicions. Although it’s easy to assume that the front-wheel-drive layout was the sole reason the Elan failed to make a splash, it was also going up against a god. While Lotus and General Motors were developing the front-wheel-drive Elan, someone else developed a Lotus-inspired roadster, and that one stuck with rear-wheel-drive.

The Brit-ish Roadster

Mazda Mx 5 1989 1600 04

Back in the late 1970s, well before Lotus even began development work on the Elan, American automotive journalist Bob Hall had an idea for a modern front-engined rear-wheel-drive sports car, and that piqued the interest of Mazda engineer Kenichi Yamamoto. Cut to 1981, and Hall was Mazda’s American product planner, while Yamamoto had moved up the ranks to become head of research and development. The time was right to pitch the idea again, and Mazda decided to give it a shot. It took several more years and a fight against both front-wheel-drive and mid-engined proposals to push the Miata through, but eventually, the rear-wheel-drive concept won, and in 1986, final approval was granted.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mazda Mx 5 Miata Roadster 1989 1600 01

This little roadster traded heavily on nostalgia, borrowing styling cues from the classic Lotus Elan of the 1960s, but trading the character of English craftsmanship for the dependability of Japanese mass manufacturing. It’s name? The Miata. It was an instant sensation the moment it debuted at the 1989 Chicago Motor Show, and for the 1990 model year, it was unleashed on the American public for the low, low price of $13,800 — $25,240 less than what a turbocharged 1991 Elan sold for. Even with options, you could buy two Miatas for the price of one well-equipped Elan, effectively dooming the British effort in America. Just 559 Lotus Elans were sold in the states, and 3,855 in total around the globe. Meanwhile, Mazda sold 3,906 Miatas in America in 1990 alone, and the nameplate has gone on to be the best-selling sports car lineage ever. Ever.

The Korean Connection

Screen Shot 2022 08 24 At 9.22.13 Am

In August 1993, General Motors sold Lotus to A.C.B.N Holdings S.A., a company with a fairly dull name but an interesting owner — Romano Artioli, the man behind the Bugatti EB 110. While Artioli continued production of the Elan, he had bigger plans. Lotus’ next entry-level car would be a mid-engined lightweight weapon named after Artioli’s granddaughter Elise. In 1995, Elan production ended, but that wasn’t quite the end of the convertible’s story.

See, Kia bought the rights to build the Elan, fitted a Mazda-derived engine, and sold a further 1,056 of them as the Kia Elan, or the Kia Vigato in Japan. Plus, Kia seemed interested in developing the idea further, as evidenced by a forgotten concept car, the KMS-II, which is pictured above. Unfortunate name, but it swapped the pop-up headlights for fixed units, added dramatically revised coachwork, added some roll hoops, and finished with a fresh set of alloys. Sadly, Kia never took the production-spec Elan to that next level, and in 1999, production of this front-wheel-drive oddity finally drew to a close.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Way It Goes

Lotus Elan 1994 Images 2

It’s weird to think of the front-wheel-drive Lotus Elan as a General Motors product, but Lotus was owned entirely by GM at the time of its development and launch. Even though the General had little input on the car, it could’ve never happened without the firm. Plus, the Elan was arguably more of a GM product than the Saab 9-2x, and if a weird idea that went basically nowhere isn’t pre-bankruptcy GM as hell, I don’t know what is.

Would the reborn Elan have been more successful if it were rear-wheel-drive? Possibly, although if it kept that price tag of just under $40,000, it still would’ve been a hard sell. Why spend the big bucks on an authentic British sports car when you could get nearly all of the thrills from your local Mazda dealership at a fraction of the cost?

Lotus Elan 5

The front-wheel-drive Elan was inarguably a miss. Don’t just take my word for it, Lotus itself refers to the car as “ultimately not a commercial success.” Lotus planned to sell 1,000 per year in America, yet couldn’t shift 1,000 in America in total. Was it a bad product? Not necessarily. Reviewers liked driving it, but it was just the wrong car for the time, because a stronger competing idea came along and snatched the crown. Sometimes, you can do what feels like the right thing and still lose. That’s life.

ADVERTISEMENT

(Photo credits: Lotus, Mazda, David Tracy)

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

Relatedbar

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
46 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
MustBe
MustBe
22 days ago

Thomas, your Miata sales figure is way off. Calendar year sales in US exceeded 23,000 in 1989 and approached 36,000 in 1990. Model year figures sourced from Miata.net show 51,658 for US of the 1990 MY in total.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
22 days ago
Reply to  MustBe

Maybe he meant 1 month?

Luvmeadeadpedal
Luvmeadeadpedal
23 days ago

Finally something I can weigh in on with recent experience as I currently own a 1991 M100 Elan and a 1991 Miata which is supercharged and an 2005 Elise.

Some more back story here about my my recent experience with FF vehicles – until about a year ago I had as a daily driver a 2011 Mini Cooper S.

Let’s dive in with the Elan. About a year ago I purchased one of the 559 Elan’s (the very first one ever sold in the USA go be exact) it was in good cosmetic condition for it’s age but not running due to a series of events that are a bit comical. I won’t go into that story now but I found it, got it shipped home to Oregon and got it running in a week of ownership. Win!

I did the basics (fluids, plugs, injectors) to make sure it was safe to drive including a new set of 200 treadwear tires and a rehab of the factory brake system so I would not die.

Initial impressions are it was zippy and did not in any way feel FF in its behavior. Like the article states it was running 160 ish hp stock and with a good set of tires you really were able to put all that power down and it handled very well. No torque steer like the Mini at full throttle which I attribute to the job Lotus did not the suspension design. It is quick and composed in a corner but it is not tail happy like a LSD equipped Miata. Fun but in a different way.

The stock Elan brakes were meh at best being parts bin GM of the day. Luckily in the UK there is enough following to be able to obtain easy to install big brake kits (props to PNM here) that transform the braking to something far superior to what my stock 1991 Miata has.

The Elan has a nice look to it and the fit and finish is really spot on Lotus and very dated but in a good way. It is all 1990’s orange on black dials and clunky GM switch gear. seats are nice and the door his huge and is very easy to enter/exit the car unlike the Elise and on par with the Miata.

I know you waiting for this – the Miata is a better car. The fit and finish is better, my 1991 does not squeak (similar miles to the Elan) the heater will melt your toes and the support is well Miata level awesome.

The Elan is exotic and I would not dissuade anyone from purchasing one. It always draws a crowd at cars and coffee when I bring it and you will never ever see another one on the road.

Being an exotic comes with its own “features” like some difficulty getting interior parts. There is support but not to the Miata level as one would expect.

In completely stock form the Elan will walk away from the Miata. Its a time capsule for sure and reasonably reliable given the Isuzu powertrain. I have chipped my Elan and you can safely get 200-210hp out of the Isuzu 1.6 and it makes all sorts of awesome 1990’s whooshy turbo sounds which make me smile.

A Miata – especially one that has some sort of forced induction – is an absolute joy as you get all the tail happy fun that I enjoy in a FR car but it may not be exotic enough or exciting for you and I get that completely the draw of something like the Elan.

The Elan is a lightweight fun and quick (even for today) and in my humble opinion underappreciated. If you are longing for a radwood type love letter to the 1990’s this car just might be for you.

I did not intend to be a two Lotus family as the stars aligned and I ended up helping bring this Elan back to life. The Elise is a superior track focused car but is not nearly as comfortable as the Elan. One could say that both are exotic in their own way and funny enough even though the Elise is 14 years the junior it shares a lot of the Lotus trademarks in regards to fit and finish and squeaks and rattles. It is clearly a Lotus thing.

I appreciate the Elan for what it is and I am on the fence as to if I should keep it long term or move it along to let someone else be in charge her care.

I call myself lucky to have had the chance to own these cars all at the same time as each has something unique to offer.

Nycbjr
Nycbjr
22 days ago

dude I’m impressed! thank you for the thoughtful post, I kind of want one now lol

Fatallightning
Fatallightning
20 days ago

How watertight is the top on the Elan, and trunk compared to an Elise? I have an S1 Elise stateside, ex fed S2 and NA Miata owner too. Elan could be a fun fair weather dailyish type thing. Cheap as chips in the UK, was thinking of importing.

Luvmeadeadpedal
Luvmeadeadpedal
19 days ago
Reply to  Fatallightning

A lot depends on the condition of the windshield frame seals. I am lucky mine are still pliable and in good service but I know folks struggle with sourcing replacement parts. The wiki LEC will be your guide.

I will be honest in saying I have yet to completely give it a proper wash down as my exterior door window seals died and while I have a replacement set I have yet to spend 3+ hours each door to replace them because Lotus. On a Toyota this would be. 30 min job total.

Last edited 19 days ago by Luvmeadeadpedal
Evan Finn
Evan Finn
24 days ago

I have an unreasonable love of this car. It looks fantastic. Possibly colored by my misspent youth playing Lotus Esprit Turbo Championship on my Amiga 500.

Logan King
Logan King
24 days ago

There’s something darkly amusing about how this is probably the most expensive and comprehensive design/engineering phase that any Lotus ever got (the full might of the entire GM empire thrown at it?) and it was an immediate flop when Mazda shocked the entire world with the Miata (I remember seeing Motorweek episodes in one of their marathons where they thought the Miata was going to be a Mazda-badged Capri just a few months before Mazda announced it). All that effort and expense put into targeting it at the US market and they basically immediately gave up on selling it here. I’ve actually seen one in person at a car dealer about 3 months ago and it looks impossibly low and wide in person.

Then the one they made a few years later using whatever money Artioli could find in the couch cushions at the Bugatti factory while it was going bankrupt basically destroyed the cottage industry that had sprouted up in the 90s, completely changing the course of the company all the way up to when it got bought to put its name on generic Chinese SUVs.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
24 days ago

Given the popularity of FWD in the public consciousness at the time I agree the high price and perceived ( likely accurate) superior reliability of the Miata was probably more responsible for the lack of sales. I’ve long liked these though just cause I like weird and forgotten cars.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
24 days ago

When these came out I thought they were the coolest freaking cars in the world. This guy in my hometown bought one back in the day, BRG as it should be, and they still daily drive it to this day. It wasn’t until many years later that I realised that it was somewhat despised as not a true Lotus, with its sacrilegious FWD setup and perceived lack of pedigree. I didn’t even know that it became a Kia once Lotus production ended until maybe the late aughts, and how that added to the perception of it being a lesser Lotus. May have been the car that singlehandendly made me reject both gatekeeping and classism.

Last edited 24 days ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Phuzz
Phuzz
19 days ago

On one hand, a lot of Lotus designs have lived on at other manufacturers; The Lotus Seven is now built by Caterham (and Westfield), the Elise became the underpinnings for the Opel VX220 and Telsa Roadster etc.
On the other hand, Lotus are an engineering company, and they’ve worked their magic on all sorts of cars, from the Cortina and Carlton to the DB9 and Corvette C4 ZR-1.

“Was YOUR car built by Lotus? It’s more common than you think!”

Brew Dirch
Brew Dirch
24 days ago

The Isuzu Impulse RS could be had with the same engine and in AWD configuration for significantly less money. The suspension was “tuned” by Lotus. Rumor was Lotus helped design the cylinder heads on the 4x series engines as well. Seems like the better car to have.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
24 days ago

I’ve always had a weird thing for these. While I share the pretty much universal opinion that RWD is correct wheel drive, obviously I have an appreciation for a good front wheel drive performance car seeing as I’ve owned two. There are certain aspects of them that are fun and unique.

I imagine these probably drive like hot hatches, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I also think they look fantastic and like many I’ve always been under the spell of the Lotus badge. But unfortunately, these are very difficult cars to keep on the road, and I can’t help but imagine that you’ll get the sort of treatment from Lotus owners that V8 Mustang owners give the non V8 owners.

It’s cool, but is it REALLY a Lotus? That’s up for debate. As always, Miata is the answer here. It always was the answer and it will always be the answer.

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
24 days ago

The same as the later Barchetta. Valiant effort, but no cigar.

On the road sensations matter more than outright speed. And if you wanted that effectiveness, there were always the Group A homologation specials.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
22 days ago

I don’t think there is any debate about it being really a Lotus, it’s made by Lotus, just like the Esprit, those bicycles and the new EVs.

Cortinas, Sunbeams and Carltons are far further from being “really at Lotus” than an M100, but no one asks if they count.

I’ve been to a few Lotus meetings, and yeah, some owners get sniffy about M100s (and anything other than the Lotus they turned up in), but that’s just how some car people are, if you don’t like what they like your preferences are wrong. Mostly though people just like all the cars.

I met a guy once with a Porsche 997 GT3 who’s definition of “poor man’s Porsche” was everything that wasn’t a 997 GT3. I mean, GT3s aren’t even air-cooled.

AlterId
AlterId
24 days ago

Lotus’ next entry-level car would be a mid-engined lightweight weapon named after Artioli’s granddaughter Elise.

Wait a minute… doesn’t David keep referring to his girlfriend as “Elise (not her real name)‽” I sense a conspiracy, and not a conspiracy to simplify and add lightness, either

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
22 days ago
Reply to  AlterId

So, we know she’s not Artioli’s granddaughter. It’s just a process of elimination until we find out who she really is.

Detlump
Detlump
24 days ago

Comparing GM to what it is now, it is appropriate that it now goes by little g, little m. I doubt that was the intent though.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
25 days ago

When Ford Australia executives saw MX-5 Miata at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, they bellowed all of the expletives known in English language and more. Ford Australia was so incensed about it because Mazda didn’t reveal it had something else up in its sleeve when collaborating with Ford Australia on next generation 323-based FWD Capri.

The rumour was that Mazda did “mention” about developing a roadster using its dedicated platform, not shared with other models. Apparently, Ford Australia didn’t want to build a separate assembly lane specifically just for one model that didn’t have anything in common with what Ford Australia built.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
25 days ago

Fun fact, Roger Smith spent over $7.7 billion on EDS, Hughes, Lotus, and GMFanuc combined ($21.7 billion, inflation-adjusted), and it all added absolutely zero to GM’s long-term prosperity and stability. The year he stepped down, the company recorded a loss of $2 billion ($4.7 billion today).

Rick Garcia
Rick Garcia
25 days ago

$40k in the late 80’s! No wonder it was a failure!

Hamish48
Hamish48
24 days ago
Reply to  Rick Garcia

roughly $115K 1985 to 2024

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
23 days ago
Reply to  Hamish48

No wonder nobody bought one.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
25 days ago

I know of one that is in pretty nice shape and pretty reasonable priceed except that it has a cracked windshield. The last of the spares pur on the shelf at the usual Lotus spares dealers aeems to have been sold a few months ago. According to people who don’t seem to actually know but have just heard from a friend the windshield is either.
A unobtainum
B interchangeable with Geo Storm or Isuzu Impulse windshields
C interchangeable with McLaren F1 according to this https://gglotus.org/ggpart/m100xref.htm

McLaren owners are paying $30,000 plus labor for their windshields so I doubt that Geo Storm or Isuzu Impulse windshields interchange with the F1

I haven’t heard of any useful info. Funny that Lamborghini Muria windshields are easy to come by but not these.

Other than that, for Miata money I’d buy a Lotus

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
25 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

It very well could be the same windshield as the Storm/Impulse.

If you actually have access to the car, see it in person, look in the bottom left or right corner of the windshield, look for the numbers (a code that starts with FW or DW followed by some numbers)

Otherwise, there’s Pilkington Classics

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
25 days ago

I like the Elan more than I should

Gee See
Gee See
25 days ago

They had a booboo between styling and production that is a few inches too short.. on brand for GM though.

At least they are not building space ships.

Last edited 25 days ago by Gee See
Eggsalad
Eggsalad
25 days ago

Miata, as they say, is always the answer.

Why did this Lotus fail? Miata.
Why did the AU Ford/Mercury Capri fail? Miata.
Why did Alfa leave the US in 1995? In a large part, because Miata sales decimated the sales of the cash cow Spyder.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
25 days ago

If you can find a good UK spec Turbo one of these grab it, and drive it like you stole it from your lovers angry husband. Unless he has an airwolf helicopter he will not catch you.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
25 days ago
Reply to  Nic Periton

All he needs is missile lock…

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
25 days ago

If the front wheel drive car (“all else equal”) is always faster why are most purpose built racecars rear wheel drive?

In any case, the bad thing about the M100 Elan wasn’t that it wasn’t fast or good. It was that people wanted nostalgia without the unrealiability, not monderness with it.

Gee See
Gee See
25 days ago
Reply to  Albert Ferrer

Weight? You don’t need the drive shaft for one, especially back in the 90s there aren’t any exotic things like CF.

You trade off with turning radius for one.

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
25 days ago
Reply to  Gee See

Put the engine behind the driver and you can do away with the driveshaft too.

Gee See
Gee See
24 days ago
Reply to  Albert Ferrer

They are limited to # of cylinders.. at the time it was a big deal. People want their 8 and their 12s. eg sales of NSX can never compare with the “bigger boys”.

Last edited 24 days ago by Gee See
Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
24 days ago
Reply to  Gee See

The original mid engined supercar had a tranversely-mounted V12. So I guess no problem there. There are several transverse engined V8 Ferraris with the engine behind the seats.

In any case if you rotate the engine 90 degrees and put the geabox between the engine and the axle you still don’t need a driveshaft (don’t you?).

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
25 days ago
Reply to  Albert Ferrer

Front drive cars won the Indy 500 several times , I think Miller 91s won 9 or 10 times.

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
25 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

I am not saying that they can’t win, and once at speed, I doubt the driven wheels matter that much at Indy.

But if the overwhelming majority of racecars are rear wheel drive it must be for a reason.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
25 days ago
Reply to  Albert Ferrer

Because most race cars are unmpteenthousand horsepower and mid-engined.

FWD is most efficient when it’s under @200hp

Last edited 25 days ago by Urban Runabout
Vee
Vee
24 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

There’s that torque steer problem inherent to FF cars, yes. But there’s also the issue of momentum delay and weight transfer. An oft never learned or understood concept is that FR cars handle better because the center of weight for the engine and transmission is slightly behind the front wheels. This means that when you turn, more load is put on the outside rear wheel, which is a drive wheel, and gives it more traction. This in turn lightens the load slightly on the outside front wheel. That allows the car to yank itself around. In MR cars this effect gets multiplied, but with the downside that at all times the inside front wheel loses a lot of weight on it and thus a lot of traction, so you’re relying heavily on the rear outside wheel to continue the turn. If you’re good at driving you just sort of intuitively feel this and never question it further, but it’s an important concept in engineering for vehicle handling.

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
24 days ago
Reply to  Vee

I am currently (for the last 8 months) driving the first mid engined car I have ever owned.

It is superb, but compared to FR cars sometimes you have to trust that the front is there.

It is not worse, just… different.

Fatallightning
Fatallightning
20 days ago
Reply to  Albert Ferrer

That statement gave me a definite “say what now?”. I could see maybe a bumpy, tight, twisty B road where a RWD car might struggle to get the power down, but otherwise, hmph. Kind of sounds like a marketing statement made after the fact to try and get the stink off.

Tbird
Tbird
25 days ago

I know of 2 of these for sale not far from me. Both look pretty beat, I have not looked in detail.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
25 days ago
Reply to  Tbird

I was going to comment that I’ve only seen a few of these in the flesh, but each and every one of them I’ve seen has been in rough shape. I had no idea how expensive they were new (not my cup of tea at the time), which makes it confusing that they all seemed to the up living such hard lives?!

Vee
Vee
24 days ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

The same thing happened with the Dino 206s. They were thrashed and trashed until rich people needed a new way to drag up collector prices on the high end, so they suddenly rechristened them as “real” Ferraris because they used a Ferrari engine and suddenly the market prices skyrocketed (from $6,000 in 1999 to $80,000 in 2019 for the low end).

I don’t think any rich people are suddenly going to find a use in Cinderella’ing a Lotus Elan, though.

Albert Ferrer
Albert Ferrer
24 days ago
Reply to  Vee

6 grand for a Dino? What a shame to have missed it.

I am guessing other Dino-engined cars didn’t suffer this, though…

Vee
Vee
24 days ago
Reply to  Albert Ferrer

I specifically remember in 1999 seeing the $6,000 asking price in a Hemmings print ad made me think “I could afford that when I grow up.” Cue twenty five years later, I cannot afford that. At that time I think the average price of a Dino 206GT was like $20,000 with the high end for the Scagliettis touching just under six digits. And right now the average is $350,000 with some going as high as $950,000. It’s insane.

46
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x