The Lotus Elise is unlike any other car ever made | Revelations with Jason Cammisa | Ep. 21 - Hagerty Media
In this episode, automotive journalist Jason Cammisa walks us through the difficult birth and runaway success of the Lotus Elise, both Series 1 and Series 2.
The Lotus Elise isn’t just lightweight — it weighed HALF as much as some contemporary “lightweight” sports cars (like the Porsche Boxster). That’s because it was constructed like no other car ever.
To hit its outrageous weight target — the same as the Seven — the Elise was never meant to have doors or a roof. However, safety regulations made a “step-in car” challenging, and so Lotus’ lightweight mid-engine sports car grew doors. Gullwing doors at first — in theory.
In practice, the Elise is a marvel of simplicity. It’s the first car ever whose chassis is constructed of bonded, extruded aluminum — a practice that’s still not common today. Combined with fiberglass clamshells, the lightest Elises weigh as much as today’s Formula 1 cars. And the heaviest barely touches 2000 lb.
The Elise and its derivatives (the hardtop Exige, Opel Speedster, Vauxhall VX220, Daewoo VX220, and Tesla Roadster) account for more than half of all Lotuses ever built, making this the company’s most successful model.
And at the end of the video, Jason takes us for a drive in the Series 1 — originally outfitted for US sale by a company called Sun, using a Honda B18C5 engine from an Acura Integra. Now with a Honda K-Series K20A (not to be confused with the car’s original Rover K-Series engine), we think you’ll agree: in sound alone, it’s one of the most incredible mid-engine sports car experiences of all time.