Lotus Elite Reviews

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Lotus Elite
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“Owning an Elite (Lotus Type 14) requires dedication,...”


written by on 27/10/2009

Owning an Elite (Lotus Type 14) requires dedication, it will dazzle you with its handling but not uncommonly strand you on some deserted road when the Prince of Darkness AKA Joseph Lucas causes all your electrons to go on strike. Do you immediately sell the car when it does these things? Never! Its part of the legend of a car that won its class at Le Mans 6 years in a row. Name any other car that has done that. If you can find a Type 14 (only 900 or so were made) even if looks like a basket case; grab it. Any Elite can be restored to better than factory condition, no welding required just an appreciation of GRP and its ways (that's Glass Reinforced Plastic). Elites do not contain mere steel frames that rot away as in Elans, although you need to know where in the production series your Elite appears because some of the body units did suffer from production problems that are fully documented in several books and can be dealt with. The cars that were produced once the kinks were ironed out are no problem at all other than that the original paint will tend to literally fall off. Can you get parts? No problem. There are several specialist suppliers and a very helpful community of about 500 to 600 other owners. Several owners are so besotted they own more than one. After an hour of driving, your hearing will be diminished by the remnant rumble in your head (eh your hearing comes back) induced by the noise level but who cares, the Type 14 does not come with a stereo. If you keep hearing a loud clonk from just below your elbow that is the differential; you learn to drive so as not to cause this clonk and your driving is the better for it. The Elite is a car that goes exactly where you point it. You have a sense of the back end being glue to the road and to your rump while the front end has an authority over the direction of the car you wont find anywhere else. The rear end is controlled by a geometry that Colin Chapman took directly out of his track cars in the Formula 2 category in the 1950s this suspension also appeared in Formula 1 in the Lotus 16. So what if it appears rudimentary, it isn't. The only caution for a potential owner is that a Lotus Type 14 will become a demanding mistress that will astonish you, aggravate you and delight you while always leaving you enthralled that she possess an unfading beauty unmatched by any mere Italian automobile (or by your real mistress) or for that matter any Lotus since. If you are not steeped in the lore of Lotus, beware, because Lotus used the name Elite again in the 1970s for the Type 75. No more need be said than that the regrettable Type 75 shared its styling theme with the AMC Gremlin. Always ask about the transmission in a Type 14 and if the seller says something about ZF you have found gold. Mind you, first gear is so high in a ZF box that any VW beetle can leave you for dead at the lights but once into the twisty bits most modern cars will find you hard to stay with. Would I buy one again? YES. Oh and by the way if you become an owner, you only refer to your car by its chassis number; don't be so crass as to speak of "my Elite" Would you refer to your mistress as "my Woman"?

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