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Hagerty Employee

25 Elise facts to honor a quarter-century of Lotus' brilliant corner carver

A quarter-century ago, Lotus changed the way cars were built. Particular sorts of cars, hand-built cars, and those produced in low numbers, but all the same, change things the Elise most certainly did. It also changed the way some drivers viewed sports cars of the modern era, making many question what’s important when we get behind the wheel.


The Elise is a small two-seater sports car, rear-engined and rear-driven, which tapped into an enthusiastic driver market ill-served by mainstream carmakers. In doing so it saved the bacon of the famous marque first founded in 1948 by Colin Chapman.


See how many of these 25 facts you know about the remarkable little Elise:


The link to the article is missing. I hope this is not an implication that in terms of automotive evolution, the Elise is the missing link.

Community Manager

Great looking cars over the years.  Too bad costs became prohibitive and reliability seems to occur for almost every owner.  LOTUS - Lots of Trouble Usually Serious.  Someone could make a killing by creating a "kit car" with a tried and true Japanese engine and easily resourced parts.

Intermediate Driver

I have had a Series 1 Elise for more than 21 years. As is usually the case with list stories, a bunch of the items in this one are wrong. Here are a few:

#4 - The MMC brakes are light and cool technology. However, cost was not the reason Lotus stopped using them. a) Lanxide went bankrupt around the time that the Elise was launched. b) MMC brakes have a serious flaw and that is they don't work at all if there is water on the rotor.

#9 - Lotus probably did squeeze more power out of the K Series engines after they switch to their own ECUs, but the VVC (variable valve timing), VHPD (very high performance derivative), and other hot K-series motors used in later special edition Series 1 Elises came from Rover and were held back from Lotus, particular early on when the Elise was competing against the car that its engine came from, Rover's MGF.

#11 - The original spec Pirelli PZero tires used on the Elise and the Yokohama LTS tires were not available new at the same time, so a back-to-back comparison is apples-to-oranges. Here is an item for the list - the PZero tires (the rears IIRC) had to come from a specific factory. And the original size rear tires were 205/50 and using wider tires tires risked rear upright failure without the uprated rear toe link.

#12 - I am not a brilliant driver and, when I first drove a Series 1 Elise, its handling was so predictable that that is what sold me on wanting to get one. Everyone who has driven my car as said the same thing. 

#22 - The Elise was launched in Sept 1995 and it is 25 years since that launch. The first production car was made in Aug 1996. No Elise is 25 years old right now and it will be a year before any of them are.

#23 - The Elise was considered an inexpensive car when launched. The initial sub-20K GBP price (which didn't last long) was consider a breakthrough.


Intermediate Driver

A correction to my post here since the comment system won't let me edit my list of problems with this list. Lanxide went bankrupt not long after Elise production started, not when the Elise was launched.

Intermediate Driver

The coolest thing about #1 is that Elisa Artioli is on Instagram (iamlotuselise). I find it surreal whenever I chat with her there.