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1990 LOTUS Elan SE

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1990 LOTUS Elan SE


Reviving the iconic ‘Elan’ name after a 14-year Hiatus, the Lotus Elan M100 was unveiled to the world in August 1989.

Designed to be a ‘world’ car and featuring Isuzu petrol engines in either naturally-aspirated or turbocharged form (both were 1.6-litres in displacement, with an inline-four cylinder configuration) the car was designed in-house by Lotus, but also featured an Isuzu gearbox for ease of construction.

Featuring a fibreglass body shell over a rigid steel ‘backbone’ chassis, it stayed true to the tried-and-tested Lotus method of lightweight construction and a rev-happy engine providing an entertaining and engaging driving experience, whilst the name itself was a wonderful nod towards the brand’s heritage.

One particularly interesting piece of trivia attached to the Elan is that it is the first and only production car built by Lotus with power sent to the front wheels, with all previous and succeeding cars being rear-wheel driven.

The Vehicle

This 1990-registered SE Turbo Elan was purchased by our vendor around five years ago, as one of those cars that have always been somewhat of a curiosity to him.

Evidently, this curiosity developed into a somewhat cherished bond between him and the Lotus, as five years later the car still remains a jewel in his personal collection of vehicles.

Throughout his time with the car, it has been garaged throughout and only used in summer months, which is ideal time to enjoy the rev-happy, lightweight character of the Elan Turbo. During their tenure with the car, the vendor has rebuilt the brake callipers, had the wheels refurbished, fitted a new battery and stainless-steel exhaust, and attended to any required maintenance regardless of cost.

In addition to mechanical work, a new folding hood has been fitted, and numerous rubber seals have been replaced around the car as required.

The result is an Elan which is an absolute joy to drive, offering arguably more comfort than many Lotus’ of the period, yet still retaining the visceral driving characteristics that Lotus are known for.

On the Outside

The Fibreglass body shell of this Elan is in excellent order throughout, with no signs of any impact damage or major scuffs that we could see.

Naturally, there are a few minor marks and stone chips - likely picked up during a spirited drive down a country road - but nothing that is not commensurate or expected from a car of this age and mileage.

There are also a couple of imperfections in the fibreglass, such as on the front bumper just below the Lotus badge, and on the offside of the front bumper near to the indicator lens.

The pop-up headlights are working perfectly, and all the light lenses are free from damage. All four wheels are in excellent condition, and wrapped in matching rubber.

As we’ve already mentioned, the folding soft-top is a new item and is in immaculate condition, with no damage to the material, nor any discolouration or wear to the rear window. We would suggest giving some attention to the seal around the windscreen on the car, however, as this is starting to crack and show its age.

On the Inside

According to our vendor, the leather interior on this particular example was a factory special-order item, and he’s never seen another Elan with the same specification, making this a very desirable Elan indeed.

The cabin presents in very good order throughout, with the seats being in great shape with only minor wear-and-tear in keeping with the vehicle’s age and condition, along with a couple of more notable marks to the rear of the seats, particularly on the driver’s side.

The dashboard is in excellent shape with no cracking or distortion from being in the sun, whilst all of the gauges and switches are in full working order, with no reported faults.

High-traffic areas such as the shifter, handbrake and steering wheel wear a light commensurate usage patina, though these would likely be improved with a good leather feed and conditioning, should the the next owner wish to do so.

In the rear, the boot is wonderfully clean and devoid of any major staining, which is testament to the level of care this Elan has benefitted from.

Finally, as you’d expect, the new soft-top has shown no moisture or water ingress issues, meaning this Elan SE is water-tight, should you find yourself at the mercy of the typical English summer weather!


In spite of being used and enjoyed with a respectable mileage having been accrued by the odometer, the chassis of this Elan SE looks to be in excellent condition.

As far as we could see, there are no signs of any concerning leaks or corrosion issues with the chassis or the lower half of the engine, with the only corrosion noted being some light surface ‘bloom’ to a couple of exposed areas - nothing to worry about, as evidenced by the latest ‘clean sheet’ MOT exam.

In the engine bay, the Isuzu turbocharged inline-four engine presents well with no obvious leaks or misting that we could see, and the only obvious problem under the bonnet is that the insulation on the underside of the panel has seen better days, which has no impact on the performance of the vehicle.

Our vendor reports the car drives fantastically, and there are no known faults or issues.

History Highlights

Included with the car is the V5 showing 12 former keepers, two sets of keys, the DVD workshop manual, various older MOT certificates, and a ring-binder full of documentation, invoices and other paperwork.

The vendor also notes the car has been serviced whilst in his care and has an extensive service history, along with the chassis having been repainted and the timing belt replaced at 77,000 miles.

What We Think

Offering the true Lotus driving experience but with additional reliability courtesy of the Isuzu turbocharged engine and with the unusual trait of being front-wheel-drive, the Elan is a cult classic in its own right.

Benefitting from a new roof, cam belt change less than 15,000 miles ago, rare interior and an impressive history file, this 1990-registered Lotus Elan SE Turbo is in very good condition throughout, and presents a tantalising prospect as a year-round enjoyable daily driver or weekend toy.

Our estimate for this car is £7,000 - £9,000.

Best of all, it’s being offered NO RESERVE - happy bidding!

Viewing is always encouraged and as stated this car is located with the vendor in Evesham, Worcestershire.  To arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of suppliers we work with regularly including: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: Evesham, United Kingdom
  • Odometer Reading: 88000
  • Chassis Number: SCC100ZT1LHD16492
  • Engine: 1588
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: White
  • Interior: Grey Leather
  • Estimated Price: £7,000 - £9,000

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