In 1993 Lotus was purchased from GM by Romano Artioli chairman of the revived Bugatti manufacturer, and the following year the Type 111 was conceived by Julian Thompson with Richard Rackman and given the Elise name after Romano’s Granddaughter Elisa.
The Series 1 Elise was launched in 1996 powered by a mid mounted 4 cylinder Rover K Series motor that produced just 118 hp, however thanks to the fiberglass body and bonded aluminium chassis the Elise only weighed 725 kg / 1,600 lbs so the car could accelerate from rest to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds with a top speed of 124 mph.
Getting in and out of a Lotus Elise are probably the most difficult features of the car, the ergonomics are secondary to track day performance, but apart from that the Elise is said to be great fun to drive and economical to run thanks to the light weight and virtually non existent load capacity beside the passengers.
In 1996 Romano had sold Lotus on to current owners Proton in order to fund the losses that had accumulated due to the insolvency of Bugatti.
Thanks to changes in crash sustainability regulations the Series 1 Elise was replaced in 2000 after more than 8600 had been built by the more sustainable and consequently slightly heavier Elise Series 2.
The top and bottom cars featured today are standard ’98 and ’97 1.8i models while the middle one is a later ’99 111S which came with variable valve timing 143 hp and a 130 mph top speed.
Thanks for joining me on this “Romano’s Granddaughter” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !