The Lotus Eclat, Type 76 but not to be confused with the Lotus Ford 76 Grand Prix car, was a fastback version of the Lotus Elite, Type 75 shooting brake, first seen in 1975 sharing the same back bone chassis and motor and running gear as the Type 75 Lotus Elite.
The Eclat was updated in 1980 known as the Eclat S2 the updated car was given the Type 84 designation. 1757 original sepcification Eclats were built between 1975 and 1982 and a further 223 Eclat S2’s were built between 1980 and 1982.
In 1982 Lotus renamed the Eclat as the Excel with further upgrades and designated the Excel as Type 89. The car seen here is registered in the log book as a Lotus Eclat, a Type 84, but has all the signs of being the prototype Excel, a type 89 which was also known by the M55 code name at the Lotus factory.
Amongst the prototype clues are a cut and shut gearbox with the then new Toyota sourced gearbox welded onto the older original type bell housing, M55 marks on the body panels indicating the car was the first off the jig, not to mention the Excel badging on the sides and Eclat badging on the rear of the car. The car was probably registered as an Eclat prior to the necessary type approval being received for the later Excel.
354 Excel’s were manufactured between 1982 and 1984 when production was discontinued. The current owner of this prototype Excel, Brian Swankie, bought the car at the NEC Classic Motor Show in Birmingham several years ago and has been restoring it ever since.
Thanks for joining me on this “Excel Prototype” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !