The Most Affordable Vintage Lotus Is Still a Super Cool Vintage European Sports Car

by Gabrielle DeSantis

If you tell someone you just bought a vintage Lotus, they might offer their condolences if they know anything about cars. Still, most people will probably be pretty impressed by your vintage European sports car acquisition. However, you don’t have to have a place in Monico to afford the most affordable vintage Lotus. 

1984 Lotus Excel | Collecting Cars

The most affordable vintage Lotus still screams fancy vintage European sports car

Lotus sounds fancy and exotic. The truth is, while they can be pricey, they are not fancy. Lotus makes true driver cars. There is very little included in them that doesn’t directly add to them being better to drive. Although they are often pretty spartan, they still cost more than most people are willing to spend on something that barely has a radio. 

Some vintage Lotus models get pretty pricey on the collectors market. However, if you want a vintage European sports car but don’t want to shell out big money, the Lotus Excel is the most affordable vintage Lotus in the game. 

What is the most affordable vintage Lotus? 

the engine compartment of a 1984 Lotus
912 lotus engine | Collecting Cars

According to Silodrome, the Lotus Excel debuted in 1982 as a sporting grand tourer with perfect 50/50 weight distribution making it handle exactly as a Lotus should. It even has the legendary 912 Lotus engine designed for the race track. This is a super cool budget sports car

This model remains cheap for us Americans because this vintage European sports car was never officially imported here. As a result, it remains a fairly obscure model here, meaning it can often fly under that auction radar. 

As noted by Silodrome, the Lotus Excel was largely inspired by the Lotus Eclat, which was based on the earlier Lotus Type 75 Elite. The Lotus Excel took advantage of the fiberglass craze of the period. Lotus wrapped the lightweight material around a steel frame and steel-reinforced backbone to keep this vintage Lotus light while maintaining rigidity. The Lotus Excel’s body was molded into two parts, an upper and lower halves. 

The Lotus Elan, 2+2, and the Lotus Esprit all share similar underpinnings. That is important as these represent some of the most popular vintage Lotus models ever made. Not only was this construction method a proven winner for Lotus, but it was also inexpensive, meaning the price was lower than other aluminum or steel sports cars from this time. 

What do the Lotus Excel and the Toyota Supra Have in common? 

a red Lotus Excel from 1984. These are an obscure vintage European sports car
1984 Lotus Excel | Collecting Cars

During this time, Toyota was a major shareholder in Lotus and came to the British automaker to ask for some help in the handling department for the Toyota Supra. As a result of this partnership, the Lotus Excel also got some cool bits from the Toyota Supra. The Excel got the W58 manual gearbox, driveshafts, rear differential, alloy wheels, and door handles from the A60 Toyota Supra.

The engine wasn’t a Toyota bit, but Lotus had been known to make a cool engine or two. According to Silodrome, the Excel was powered by the 2.2-liter inline-four-cylinder Lotus Type 912 engine.  This is the same engine that was used in the Lotus Esprit and the Eclat. The 912 was one of the final iterations of the Lotus 900 series, which had been in production since 1972. 

This specific Lotus Excel was a killer deal

This 1984 is one of the most affordable vintage Lotus models on the market. It has left its private collection and was just auctioned on Collecting Cars. The blazing red paint paired with the beige interior screams cool, vintage European sports car. It sold for a tantalizing £6,300 ($8,347.80). 

Next time you think about buying a used Nissan Altima or something else practical and cheap, maybe consider buying a vintage Lotus for the same money. (Actually, don’t do that. It will break.) 

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