I’ve owned several front-wheel-drive cars, starting with a 1984 Dodge Caravan. I can’t say I was impressed with the handling of that car. I avoided front-wheel-drive, until I was seduced by an SVT Focus in 2002 and a Focus ST in 2013. What a difference they made in my opinion of front-wheel-drive. As a result, I wasn’t as jaded about front-wheel-drive as I was in the last century. Still, I expected some typical front-wheel-drive issues like torque steer to be very apparent. Glore led me to a nice twisty road near his place in central Mississippi to test the car. First, he drove it with me in the passenger seat. I was impressed with the lack of lean in the corners, the nice acceleration, and, of course, the brakes when he demonstrated the car’s talents. Then it was my turn.
This is not a big car, but I found it relatively easy to enter, even with a bad hip. The seats are very comfortable and have great lateral support. At first, I thought I might want more adjustment, but after a little fiddling, I was happy to be back where I started. Sitting in the car, my only complaint was the use of red in the gauges – in bright sun, they can be a bit difficult to see well. I forgot all about that after I started the car and moved down the road. The shifter is perfectly placed, and the shifts are precise and smooth. Acceleration, when a couple extra atmospheres of pressure are added via the turbo, just flat made me break into a wide-mouth smile. For only 160-hp, this car flies because of its weight, or lack of it. Then there were the curves, and I would have broken into my happy dance had I not been tucked nicely into the car’s seats. Yup, it’s a Lotus! I wrote the check soon after the drive.
As for ownership, it’s a Lotus, not a Toyota, so it will require some attention. But Glore was a competent first owner – he bought the car new in 1992 – so I became the second owner of a very well maintained Lotus Elan M100. It came with a treasure trove of manuals, parts lists and information that will make it less of a puzzle. And it is so much fun to drive, not to mention show off. The car won the Lotus class at the Southern British Car Club annual British car show in October 2017, and I suspect it will win other prizes. But its biggest prize will come when I have recovered fully from my hip replacement and take it to the “Tail of the Dragon” – 318 corners in 11 miles. That’s where this car belongs, and that’s where she’s going to go.
I have finally satisfied my car lusts. The M100 joins my 1973 Alfa Giulia Super in my garage, and I’m a very happy camper. No need to look for anything else, right? Oh look, the new Hemmings Motor Newsjust arrived…hmmm.
Body: Multi-piece bonded, riveted, and bolted VARI-moulded GRP composite
Chassis: Steel backbone
Engine: DOHC Turbo I-4 Isuzu
Displacement: 1588-cc, 96.9-cu.in.
Bore/Stroke: 80.0-mm /70.0-mm
Power (Turbo with cat): 160-hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque (Turbo with cat): 150-ft-lbs @ 4200 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed, all synchro
Steering: Rack and pinion
Brakes: Front – ventilated 10 inch disks; rear – solid 9.3 inch disks
Wheels: Lotus 6.5J x 15 cast alloy
Length: 152.4-inches, 3872-mm
Width: 74.3-inches, 1885-mm
Height (top up): 48.4-inches, 1230-mm
Weight: 2392-lbs, 1085kg
Fuel consumption: 26.4/40.6/31.7 mpg
MSRP (1991) $33,900