Lotus Excel Classic Cars for Sale

The Lotus Excel was a sports car built from 1982 to 1992 by British car manufacturer Lotus Cars Limited. Founded in 1952, Lotus started out by making self-assemble kit cars for race drivers, but soon started producing beautiful lightweight high performance sports and race cars. They moved from their first factory, a small converted stable in London, to set up a substantial base on an old WW2 airfield in Norfolk, the former RAF Hethel. Today they still continue to produce quality cars for the road and racetrack at their Hethel manufacturing facility and test track; also famous for racing cars, Lotus' Team Lotus have been Formula One winners numerous times.

History of the Lotus Excel

The 80s were challenging times for many, and Lotus, though having built some iconic cars, weren't invincible from financial hardship. The Lotus Excel (Lotus 89) was initially a revamped version of the tired Eclat and sold as the Eclat Excel, not a standalone model which would require a myriad of costs associated with launching a new car. However, Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, entered into agreements with Toyota and Toyota became a prominent shareholder. This made it possible to build the Lotus Excel in its own entity and equip it with high-spec components from the Toyota Supra, including the W58 five-speed transmission.

The Lotus Excel was a lifeline to struggling Lotus, it brought the brand up-to-date in style, yet allowed them to sell it for a thousand pounds less than the Eclat. Lotus Cars Ltd were embroiled in controversy and although the 1982 launch of the Excel was a turning point, it came too late for 54-year-old Chapman who died of a heart attack later that year.

Built as a two-door coupe, the Lotus Excel was a rear-wheel drive car weighing only 2'575lb. Powered by an aluminium DOHC 2.2L 160hp Slant-Four engine, the even weight distribution of the Lotus Excel meant it handled great at its top speed of 130mph. Though, some say it wasn't as reliable as its competitor, the Porche 944.

The Lotus Excel SE launched in 1985; it had an extra 20hp and a new dashboard. A year later came the Excel SA, a four-speed ZF automatic. All three editions, totalling a mere 2'075, were built until the end of the Lotus Excel's production in 1992.

The Lotus Excel special editions

To mark 25 years at Hethel, Lotus added 40 special edition models to the Lotus Excel range: 5 in Calypso Red, 35 in metallic Celebration Green. They featured a high-tech CD sound system, air conditioning, tan leather seats and steering wheel, and a pure wool Wilton carpet. Today one would cost about £60'000.

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