S1 Elise

1998 Lotus Elise

Offered by H&H Classics | Duxford, U.K. | October 20, 2022

Photo – H&H Classics

The Elise is one of the most vaunted cars to be produced by Lotus… ever. The Series 1 launched in 1996 and remained in production until 2001. It was never sold in the United States (the Series 2 was). It was a light car – just under 1,600 pounds – with a fiberglass body and an aluminum chassis. It’s pretty much the direct descendent of the Lotus Seven.

The base model was powered by a mid-mounted 118-horsepower, 1.8-liter Rover inline-four. A five-speed manual was the only gearbox option, and all cars featured a targa roof. This car has small hidden upgrades, like S2 suspension and upholstery.

These cars are very active track day participants and are still used regularly. So whether or not they have officially become collectable is debatable, but I think these early cars are just on the cusp of it. This one has 28,000 miles, and that mileage is likely to be kept very low by future owners. It should sell for between $27,000-$29,000. Click here for more info.

Talbot Sunbeam Lotus

1983 Talbot Sunbeam Lotus Limited Edition

Offered by Silverstone Auctions | Northamptonshire, U.K. | May 28, 2022

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

We’ve covered the history of the Talbot marque before, and it’s very confusing. We’ll pick up the trail in 1935 when the Rootes Group had both Talbot and Sunbeam under their ownership. Sunbeam-Talbot was a marque that existed from 1935 through 1954, when the cars just became Sunbeams. This was because Talbot-Lago was operating in France and it was confusing. Still is.

Well Talbot-Lago only lasted five more years after that. The dormant Talbot name was then sold to Simca, which became part of Chrysler Europe in 1970. In 1977, Chrysler introduced the Chrysler Sunbeam model. It was a three-door hatchback. It was not very exciting.

However, Chrysler dumped Chrysler Europe on PSA (Peugeot/Citroen) in 1978 for $1. PSA in turn dumped the Chrysler name, rebranding all Chryslers in Europe as Talbots. So now, a few decades removed from Sunbeam-Talbot, there was a Talbot Sunbeam on sale in Europe. Around this time, they also wanted to make the Sunbeam (the model) more exciting.

The hot-hatch Ti variant was introduced in 1978. Chrysler had already been in talks with Lotus to build a rally version of the Sunbeam to take on the Ford Escort RS. Thus, the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was born, and it went on sale in 1979. It was one of the best hot hatches of the ’70s/’80s.

Power is from a 2.2-liter high-compression version of the Lotus 907 inline-four. Road cars were rated at 150 horsepower. Rally cars were able to get up to 250 horsepower out of the engine. There were also suspension and exhaust tweaks. The car was responsible for Talbot winning the WRC manufacturer’s championship in 1981.

Only 1,184 right-hand-drive examples were made before production ceased due to the fact that they were more expensive to make than they could sell them for. Fifty-six of them were taken by Ladbroke Avon Coachworks to be turned into “Limited Edition” cars that featured the paint scheme seen here.

This limited-edition Sunbeam Lotus carries a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$37,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $28,914.

Lotus 88B

1981 Lotus 88B

Offered by BH Auction | Tokyo, Japan | January 12, 2020

Photo – BH Auction

Back when you were allowed to be innovative when designing racing cars, Formula One went through an era where ground effects were all the rage. It started in the late 1960s and peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Things were getting pretty wild, and eventually, F1 cracked down, banning moveable aerodynamic devices.

Colin Chapman’s Lotus first started the wave, and they sort of ended it with this car, which was designed for the 1981 season. It features a twin-chassis layout that allows the standard chassis to hunker down at speed, while the second chassis works on mechanical grip. The other F1 teams were not amused and protested this car at every event. It practiced at the first two events, and later at the British Grand Prix (in 88B form), but it never raced.

Finished in John Player livery, the cars were used by drivers Nigel Mansell and Elio de Angelis in practice. Only two examples were built, and they’re powered by Ford-Cosworth 3.0-liter V8s. It is eligible for pretty much any historic F1 event and is being offered from a private Japanese collection. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Esprit V8

1999 Lotus Esprit V8

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Ft. Lauderdale, Florida | March 29-30, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This is the best Lotus. Okay, well it’s at least my favorite Lotus. And it’s in the best color, with the best wheels. The Esprit debuted in 1975 for the ’76 model year, and the above car is a Series 4 example – which was actually the fifth iteration of the model.

The S4 was built between 1993 and 2004, and damn if they aren’t just great-looking sports cars – especially in Yellow Pearl. In 1996, the company decided to stop screwing around with lousy four-cylinder engines and finally stuffed a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 in there. It was good for 350 horsepower. It could do 175 mph.

This 37,000-mile example carries a pre-sale estimate of $60,000-$70,000 – which seems steep – and it is one of 1,237 V8 models built. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $50,600.

Lotus T125

2013 Lotus T125

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 8-9, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

It’s become pretty trendy lately for “major” manufacturers to build track-only cars for their wealthier clients to enjoy and pretend they are talented. Ferrari has done it, as has Aston Martin. In 2011, Lotus decided to try to do it in a completely different, balls-to-the-wall kind way.

Before the recession about killed the company and cost the CEO his job, Lotus head man Danny Bahar was flinging out cool concepts left and right with an awesome product roadmap that would’ve made Lotus a sports car contender again. Just like McLaren ended up doing with much better timing (and funding).

Anyway, one of his projects was this, the T125. It’s basically a customer F1 car. Power is from a 640 horsepower, 3.8-liter Cosworth V8. It’s got a bunch of F1 tech inside of it as Lotus was a constructor in F1 at the time. Basically, the car is way too intense for some rando rich guy to hop in and safely pilot around a track.

Despite that, Lotus planned an extravagant launch party in the basement of the Louvre where they told select clients that for about $1 million they’d get the car, a transporter, spares, and a professional driver to teach them how to use it. Then they could go race other people who bought in.

Well it didn’t work. Lotus ended up building as few as two of these, and rumor is not one of them was ever sold as intended. This one has the classic John Player Special livery and can now be yours. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $417,500.

October 2018 Auction Highlights

Before we hop into October, we’ll finish off September. First, with Silverstone Auctions’ aptly-named September Sale. We featured a special edition Lambo that brought $205,616. And guess what? It was the overall top sale. We’ll give Most Interesting to this 2000 Lotus 340R that brought $88,121. Click here for full results.

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

Next, Bonhams’ Zoute Sale where this 1962 Aston Martin DB4 Series V Vantage was the top sale at $1,290,110. The Derby we featured failed to sell and the early Elva brought $165,398. Click here for complete results.

Photo – Bonhams

We didn’t get to feature anything from Mecum’s Dallas sale, but this 2017 Ford GT was the top sale at $1,320,000. This was the second time this particular GT has sold publicly in the last three months. It brought less this time than last. Four of the top 10 cars were variations of the Ford GT. Other results can be found here.

Photo – Mecum

Onward to RM in Hershey where our featured Post War convertibles both sold with the Playboy bringing $132,000 and the Monarch $60,500. The overall top sale was $495,000 for this 1930 Cadillac V-16 Roadster by Fleetwood.

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Electric car sales included the Milburn for $63,250 and the Baker at $192,500, while the touring cars both sold as well: the American Eagle went for $242,000 and the Everitt $55,000. The 1905 Northern sold for $52,250, the Buick truck $30,800, and a previously-featured Packard went for $71,500. A previously-featured Delahaye failed to sell. Complete results can be found here.

And finally, we backtrack to the final sale of September, Aguttes’ sale at Montlhery. The Matra we featured didn’t sell, but the 1959 AC Aceca Wide-Track Prototype we wanted to feature (but didn’t because, well, the photo below was the only one provided). It brought $252,689. Click here for all results.

Photo – Aguttes

July 2018 Auction Highlights

Our July auction highlights begin with Bonhams sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We featured two Brough Superior road cars that both sold, with the 3½-Litre Saloon bringing $42,367 and the one-off V-12 $68,091. The overall top seller was this 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato for a whopping $13,264,951. The “regular” DB4GT we featured failed to sell.

Photo – Bonhams

The Marendaz Special also failed to meet its reserve. The other two cars we featured both turned out to be million dollar sales with the Blower Bentley bringing $2,654,569 and the Bugatti Super Sport hammering sold for slightly more at $2,691,410. Click here for complete results.

Osenat held a sale of a private collection and this 1963 Citroen ID 19 Cabriolet was the top sale at $62,172. Click here for more results.

Photo – Osenat

On to H&H Classics’ Pavilion Gardens sale where the Bond Equipe we featured was no match for the top sale, selling for $4,577. That top sale? $98,938 paid for a dusty 1962 Jaguar E-Type Series I 3.8 Coupe.

Photo – H&H Classics

The Beauford and McLaughlin both failed to sell. You can find more results here.

Now it’s time for Silverstone Auctions’ Silverstone Classic Race Car Sale. The top sale, which was one of just a handful of cars to find new owners, was this 1964 Ford Lotus Cortina Mk I for $73,884. Click here for complete results.

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

And finally, into August, Worldwide Auctioneers liquidated Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana, Indiana. The top sale was the 1952 “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” NASCAR race car that sold for $1,265,000. The next big-dollar feature car was the Hudson Town Car. It brought $313,500. We’ll award Most Interesting to this 1936 Terraplane Series 61 Panel Delivery that sold for $115,500.

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

The Dover Mail Truck achieved $55,000 and the Essex Touring Car brought $26,400. More results can be found here.

Lotus Mk VI

1954 Lotus Mk VI

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 8, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

The Mk VI was the first production car built by Colin Chapman’s Lotus. That’s right – there were five cars before this one that never made it to production, including this one (though to be fair, the Mk V was never actually built).

Introduced in 1952, the Mk VI was available through 1957 when it was replaced by the legendary Lotus Seven. It’s powered by a 1.3-liter straight-four from an MG TA that makes 50 horsepower (though other engines with similar outputs were also used). Top speed was about 93 mph.

These were mostly sold as kits (which explains the engine differences) and made for great track cars, though anything requiring a pit stop was probably out as those rear wheels are pretty much covered up. Only about 110 of these were sold and this one should bring between $50,000-$70,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $30,240.

Lotus 34

1964 Lotus Type 34

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 18, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Lotus was far from the first European car company to try and conquer the Indianapolis 500, after all Peugeot won the third running. But there are few car companies that really left as an indelible a mark at the Speedway quite like Lotus did. They brought the rear-engined revolution. They were the rear-engined revolution. The 1964 Type 34 was their second “Champ Car” made specifically for American ovals.

The Type 34 was an evolution of Colin Chapman’s original Indy entrant, the Type 29. Lotus teamed with Ford for power and this car features by a 495 horsepower 4.2-liter V-8. It has a two-speed manual transmission. It’s racing heritage includes practice for the ’64 500 and the following:

  • 1964 Milwaukee Mile – DNF (with A.J. Foyt)
  • 1964 Trenton 200 – 1st (with Parnelli Jones)
  • 1965 Phoenix 150 – DNF (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Trenton 100 – DNF (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Indianapolis 500 – Pole, 15th, DNF (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Milwaukee Mile – DNF (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Langhorne 150 – DNF (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Trenton 150 – 1st (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Indianapolis Raceway Park – 4th (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Langhorne 125 – 2nd (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Atlanta 250 – DNF (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Trenton 200 – 1st (with Foyt)
  • 1965 Phoenix 200 – 1st (with Foyt)
  • 1966 Trenton 200 – 3rd (with Foyt)

That’s quite the history, even if the transmission gave out on the car seemingly more often than not. But it was quick in its day with who else but A.J. Foyt at the wheel. Foyt kept the car until 1992 when the current owner acquired it. The restoration is fresh, having been completed earlier this year.

All four of A.J.’s 500-winning cars are owned by the Speedway Museum. This pole-winning car (which set a lap record at Indy) is referred to as one of the most significant Foyt cars in private hands by the catalog. It is the winningest Indy Lotus and one of only two Type 34s in existence – the other at the IMS Museum. Get it while it’s hot – but it won’t come cheap. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

1991 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

Offered by Silverstone Auctions | Silverstone, England | July 29-30, 2017

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

You’re looking at the coolest car to ever wear the Vauxhall badge. It began life as a Vauxhall Carlton (which was the British version of the Opel Omega). This generation of the European full-size sedan/wagon (or “executive car”) was built between 1986 and 1993.

The hotted up Lotus version was available only from 1990 through 1992. Lotus took the standard Opel 3.0-liter engine and massaged it into a 3.6-liter straight-six and then strapped two turbochargers on top for a final power rating of 377 horsepower. That’s still pretty serious today. Sixty arrived in five seconds and the top speed was listed at 176 mph, which is pretty crazy. It outperformed many cars that were much more expensive when new – and most of those had two fewer doors as well.

The Lotus Carlton could be had in one color: Imperial Green, which looks black from nearly every angle and in every photograph. They weren’t cheap when they went on sale and that is reflected in the low build count. Opel wanted to built 1,100 examples but they only ended up selling 950 – split between Opel and Vauxhall, with this version being much rarer. Only 320 Vauxhall Lotus Carltons were produced and this example has a remarkable 4,500 original miles on the odometer. It should bring between $77,500-$90,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $94,557.