Lotus Cars - Part 2
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Lotus began developing a new generation of road cars in the early 1970s and launched two entirely different models, the front-engined Elite/Eclat and the mid-engined Esprit in the 1974-1976 period. As was almost traditional by this time, these cars all used the backbone chassis allied to a fibre-glass body-shell and featured the new 16-valve type 907 engine. For the 1980s engines were enlarged to 2.2-litres and the Esprit was offered in turbocharged form. It offered great value-for-money with standards of roadholding, and performance matching many Italian supercars but at a considerably lower price.
Lotus Elite 1974-1982
Introduced in mid-1974 was the new Elite, sharing its name with the 1957 classic. A very stylish looking car with angular lines and a well appointed interior, it continued with the concept of a backbone chassis and fibreglass body. It featured the new 1973cc front-mounted engine. From 1980 the Elite adopted the larger 2174cc engine as the Elite S2.2.
Lotus Eclat 1975-1982
Released in 1975, the Lotus Eclat was a derivative of the Elite featuring a restyled rear body. Aimed at the US where the hatchback style failed to find much favour, the Eclat name was later revised to the Sprint. This broke with the Lotus tradition of model names beginning with the letter E. From 1980 the Eclat moved to S2.2 form with the fitment of the 2174cc engine in stock form.
Lotus Esprit SI 1976-1978
In 1976 the mid-engined Esprit replaced the Europa. It combined all the expected Lotus virtues - a backbone chassis, all-independent suspension, razor sharp handling and an unmistakable glass fibre body. SI features include 14in Wolfrace wheels and the period Lotus bonnet badge. A total of 714 SI models were produced.
Lotus Turbo Esprit 1980-1986
Introduced in 1980, the 210 bhp Turbo Esprit took Lotus into the supercar class around £20,000. With a 2174cc four-cylinder engine in turbocharged form the early cars were built in the major race team sponsor's Essex colours. For the final year it received a revised, high compression engine and became known as the Esprit Turbo HC.
Lotus Esprit S2, S2.2 and S3 1979-1993
By late 1977 the Esprit was improved to become S2, with subtle styling revisions, a different instrument cluster, revised seating and wider-rim wheels. This in turn was replaced by the Esprit S2.2 in 1980, which had a 2174 cc/160 bhp engine. From 1981 the Esprit S3 was introduced. It used the chassis and suspension of the Turbo and ran until 1993.
Lotus Excel 1982-1992
In late 1982 the Excel was introduced as a replacement for the ageing Eclat. It used a Toyota gearbox, disc brakes and drive-shafts but retained the original 2.2 litre engine. In 1985 the Excel was updated to SE, with the addition of the 180bhp HC engine and a large rear spoiler. A year later came the Excel SA, with German ZF 4 speed auto transmission.