The torture of missing out on a must-have classic


Author: James ElliottPublished:

Last Wednesday my stormy two year relationship with my Lotus Elite finally came to an end when it packed its stuff (a few spares and some paperwork) and left me for good.

Despite writing on this site that it was going to have to go, I hadn't actually advertised it for sale because I wanted it to go to the right home.

And, as I had hoped, my blog teased out exactly the right new owner, a marque and model enthusiast who had wanted to buy this very car years before but had been thwarted.

More importantly, he is a marque and model expect who understands all the generic problems and is prepared to put in the toil to make it right.

This was precisely what I wanted and I rapidly adjusted (downwards) my price expectations accordingly.

Yes, I would be a rubbish car dealer.

The odd thing is how fate decided to cope with my disloyalty.

As I have blethered on many a time, I love that Elite, but there are a few fundamental things that it didn't do, primarily allowing me to change gear for myself.

The boys in the office have also grown bored of me suggesting that, despite the wonderfulness of the Lotus engine, a V8 conversion would not be the worst thing in the world for an Elite. James Page, in particular, disapproves.

Then there were the tech issues that I never got on top of, all of them emanating from the rear end mechanicals: diff, inboard drums, seals and hubs.

It was almost comforting (particularly to my bank manager, or wife as she prefers to be called) to realise that a car such as I wanted didn't exist.

Cue destiny.

Sunday night, post-NEC, browsing the net with a lovely plate of cottage pie (swimming in HP sauce, obviously) by my side and a rapidly disappearing pint of Old Speckled Hen in my hand, the damned thing appears.

Just like that, on e-bay, the very car I have been describing (except the wheels, obviously), at a tantalisingly plausible price.

There was a video of it in action, the spec was Holley-equipped Rover V8 with that superb Rover five-speed manual 'box, an acceptably tasteful bonnet bulge (many are hideous), rear disc brake conversion, and uprated suspension

Hardly original, I know, but still I frantically e-mailed a few of the chaps, including the link and begging for a loan.

They all responded (obviously they don't have better things to do on a Sunday evening), being very positive about the car (even James Page), but the most cash we could muster between the lot of us was about £400.

The red Elite was the first topic of conversation on Monday morning, too, prompting me to go back and revisit the listing. Gone. Already.

Obviously, though I had thought I was the only person in the world who wanted precisely this car, I am not.

I swore to myself a bit and sent the seller a message saying that if it fell through, he should get in touch with me, but I don't expect to hear anything.

The only upside is that now I know exactly how the new owner of 'my' car must have felt when he missed out on it all those years ago.

As a result, I am even more pleased that it has gone to the home that it has.


Coventry Climax

Nice. Apart from the awful wheels it reminds me of a Corgi one I had in the same colour as a child.


James, James, James - you know that once you've tried a Lotus 4 seater, you can't keep away from them for long. V8s are nice, but they don't have the true Lotus heart that is the 9xx series engine. What about looking for an Excel chassised Elite instead ? Classic 70s style with 80s Toyota mechanicals and a nice galvanised chassis to boot. Definitely  best of both worlds.

We'll see you back at soon, I'm sure ;)


James Elliott

I have had at least one Lotus in my life (usually two) every day since some time in 1999. It is only a matter of time until I buy the next! And I am equally sure that the next will be another Elite/Eclat/Excel, there is something very addictive about them.

Group Editor, C&SC

Lancia 2000 Coupe

Dear James,

A few years back I owned a Series 1 Elite 501 - I bought it from the original owner who had run it as a company car (BP) and then purchased it from them as his own in 1979 - it had 50,000 miles or so on it and, as he commuted to London by train - it remained garaged at his his home for most of the week - it was immaculate and I had a few memorable drives (where it felt so light and responsive) and I used to think of it as fantastic piece of modernist 1970s design - I just loved the styling and concept - it was quick and economical. How about today's answer to a fuel-efficient, supercar-proper-four-seater hatchback today - oh yes, we're offered the the Porsche Panamera Diesel - a bloated, over-two-tonne walrus of a car that's hideous, offensive and makes me really long for a different path ot be trodden by the car-makers.


I can really how it really feels when we get departed from our favorite thing. Even I had to sell my car as I didn't have sufficient timing to look after it. Here also the story is same as the person didn't have time to look after his elite so he sold it out. The main reason for selling the car is that we need to be in a proper place and in a proper condition which would better than the previous condition of it. 

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