Sunflower: 6k-mile 1991 Lotus Elan M100

The Elan M100 is so far the only front-wheel drive vehicle ever offered by Lotus. The choice of making this otherwise very attractive little roadster with front-wheel drive remains a puzzle to this day. Its 1989 launch date suggests it was intended to compete with Mazda's instant-classic Miata, yet the Miata had rear-wheel drive, and was therefore superior in handling and cornering. Other potentially fun cars from this same era like the Buick Reatta and Mercury Capri suffered the same fate of obscurity as the M100 Elan because they had front-wheel drive, and thus were never taken seriously by enthusiasts.

Fortunately, the Elan M100 was made to be the best front-wheel drive car possible.

The M100 is so-called to distinguish it from the classic front-engine, rear-wheel drive Elan produced fro 1962-1975. This new Elan was produced and sold from 1989-1992, during with 3,855 were made and 559 sold in the U.S. It was produced with the help of General Motors after they bought Lotus in 1986. It featured an Isuzu 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, producing 165 horsepower and capable of moving the car from 0-60 mph in a very respectable 6.5 seconds.

Styling is one of the car's highlights. It looks awesome. The front clearly takes cues from the iconic Esprit, which had been in production since the '70s by the time of this Elan's release, and still wore a body primarily based on Giugario's original lines, which have stood the test of time. The M100 Elan has the same subtly pointed snout and hidden headlights. The steeply raked and curved windshield is very sleek and futuristic looking. The rear gets even more interesting with handsome rectangular taillights and a very cool spoiler built into the body. The recessed alloys are also gorgeous. Bright colors like this yellow example flatter the shape. Had the car been rear-wheel drive, it would have gone down as another classic and given the Miata a real run for its money. I prefer the looks of this over the Miata any day.

The seller says the vehicle has only had two owners who put on just 6,377 miles, making this an extreme low mileage survivor. They say the car had a fresh oil change done and they changed all synchros after hearing a noise in 3rd gear. They say the driver's side power window has problems and there is paint peeling on the rear bumper, but they did not do a whole repaint mercifully to keep the car original.

Not many were made, less were sold and probably even fewer survive. Very few have this low mileage. Hemmings estimates an excellent condition '91 Elan to be worth $15,125. Find this one on ebay here in Saint Charles, Illinois with bidding at $14,000 and a buy-it-now of $24,900.

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