The Lotus Elise may well be the best-driving car of the past quarter of a century, but there’s no doubt that the production model is getting pretty long in the tooth now. What other new car has been around since 1995, with only the odd tweak here and there to keep it going?
The Elise may be an icon, a future classic and the rest, but it hasn’t been very successful for Lotus in recent years. In the last five years, Lotus has not sold more than a couple of hundred Elises a year. Its price doesn’t help; the cheapest version is now over £45,000, and the Cup 250 final edition is £51,000. But even when it was launched it cost just under £19,000 (around £36,000 in today’s money). It’s said that a new Elise’s closest rival is a used one.
But don’t mourn the death of Lotus’ featherweight model just yet. If the right buyer and project comes along, Lotus will be happy to sell the tooling for the Elise, Automotive News reports. It could become the base for a new small-volume sports car, or kit cars.
Could the discontinuation of the Elise also spell the end for the Caterham 7? Lotus sold its tooling for that car to Caterham in the early 1970s, and it’s still on sale today. Surely the Caterham 7 can’t go on forever, and an Elise-based replacement would be ideal. It’d probably be more successful than the Caterham Aero Seven concept.
Reborn coachbuilding firm Radford may also be in the running to pick up where the Elise left off. With Jenson Button and Ant Antstead at the helm, Radford is planning to launch a new sports car with 1960s inspiration. Lotus is said to be helping with the development of the Radford car, so it would make sense if the car came with the underpinnings from Lotus’ longest-lived model.
Lotus will launch the new Emira coupe in July, while its range will briefly continue to feature the similarly pensionable Exige, and the Evora - at around £64,000 and £85,000 respectively. At the top of its new range will be the upcoming Evija electric hypercar.
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