What Is It: 1976 Lotus Elite 504 Automatic

My favorite seller of the month, Euro Car Garage, is offering yet another rare car at a very reasonable price.

I've never seen this car before and was surprised to learn it's a Lotus from the '70s. Apparently, there were a whole bunch of funky cars from Lotus I've never heard of until now. This is one of them.

The Elite nameplate was originally used for a classic two-seater coupe made from 1958 to 1963. Then Lotus used the name for a totally different and unrelated much larger two-door hatchback from 1974 to 1982. This is the latter, of which only 2,535 were made.

This Elite had a front-engine and rear-wheel drive setup underneath a fiberglass body and quirky massive glass hatchback window. From the rear it looks dangerously close to AMC Gremlin territory, but the long front hood and pop-up headlights resemble the Esprit so it fortunately salvages some commonality and swag with the rest of the brand.

It only had a 2.0-litre inline 4-cylinder engine, but was supposedly an ok performer, thanks to a weight of only around 2,000 lbs. Typically, 5-speed manual gearboxes were standard, but from January 1976 onward automatic transmissions were optional, such as on this example.

The seller is mum on any details but this one appears to be an original survivor with only 79, 471 miles. Condition doesn't look too bad. The body looks mostly straight and clean, without any visible rust.

The interior is pure '70s, with suede literally everywhere and white sheepskin seat covers that make it look like a playboy lounge. Note the sagging blocking half the instrument cluster.

The rear seats feature a surprising amount of room and look clean and cozy with the headrests.

This could be an incredible chance for either a Lotus fanatic or obscure car buff to acquire a rare car for relatively cheap. It definitely looks like it's going to be a project, but it could be a fun one, not taken too seriously, as this is a goofy car, right down to the swirly western pinstripes.

Find the craigslist ad here and the dealer ad here with an asking price of only $3, 895.

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