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Autotrader Find: 1991 Lotus Elan

Here’s a Lotus you may have never seen before. It’s a 1991 Lotus Elan, and it’s one of the rarest Lotus models ever — especially in North America, as the ad offering this particular Elan for sale notes that just 559 examples were imported, and only for one model year. But now this one is offered for sale, and it’s your chance to own one of the most unusual modern Lotus models.

First, a little overview of the Elan. The original (and more famous) Elan was offered in the 1960s and 1970s, but the second-generation Elan, called the Elan M100, is the modern version. It was sold globally from 1989 to 1995 before the tooling was sold to Kia, who continued production in Asia as the Kia Elan through 1999.

The modern Elan is an interesting car because it’s front-wheel drive — the only time Lotus has ever gone to a front-wheel drive setup. Famed designer Peter Stevens (of McLaren F1 fame) designed the Elan, and it was offered with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, either in naturally-aspirated (130 horsepower) or turbocharged (162 hp) varieties. As the ad notes, North American sales were highly limited, and these cars were unusual back in the early 1990s — and, obviously, much more unusual today.

This particular Elan is finished in red with a black interior, and it’s covered just under 100,000 miles from new. It’s offered by a private seller in Walnut Creek, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the seller notes the car has had no trouble passing California’s notoriously rigorous smog tests. The owner also notes he has done “pretty much all” the reliability upgrades, suggesting the Elan will be good to go for some time. If you’re interested, it’s offered for $18,000.

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  1. Not long ago this car was on Wheeler Dealers with Ant Anstead. Didn’t even know this 90’s version of the Elan existed before I watched that episode.

  2. These M100s had a pretty interesting story, they came from a time when GM owned Lotus, and was GM who ordered a FWD sports car from Lotus.  Unfortunately by the time the car was done Mazda had already finished the true successor to the Elan, and at 1/3 the price so it was a hard sell.

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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