Monday, February 2, 2015

15k: Almost A Lotus: 1997 Kia Elan M100

 The Lotus Elan M100 was a wedge shaped convertible penned by Peter Stevens (Jaguar XJR-15, McLaren F1, Lotus Esprit, MG ZR, ZS, ZT & TF) and built in the UK from 1989 through 1995...and later produced by Kia in South Korea under the name Kia Elan (and Kia Vigato).  The Elan used a lightweight chassis and a name borrowed from the historical Lotus archives...but it was powered by an Isuzu (and later Kia) 4-banger mated to the front wheels.  Find this 1997 Lotus Kia Elan M100 offered for $17,900 CAD ($14,061 USD at time of printing) in Walkerton, ON, Canada via kijiji.ca.  Tip from Gianni.


Discussion of the M100 Elan came up in the comments about the Isuzu Stylus/Impulse and Gianni was kind enough to find the only one (or as close as you'll get to it!) for sale in North America right now (I did a search and couldn't find any, but there are probably a few lurking out there). 



This is not the 1.6 liter Isuzu 4XE1 engine used in the Stylus/Impulse, this is a 1.8 liter T8D "Hi-Sprint" inline-4 built by Kia and pushing out 151 horsepower.  The end result is performance about on par with the Lotus built Elans and potentially better build quality...but who really knows.


See another odd ball version of an odd ball car? tips@dailyturismo.com

17 comments:

  1. Call me crazy, but I love these cars. I've never had a chance to drive or own one, but I'd jump at the change for both. This particular car gives me the heebie-geebies. Don't like that they couldn't figure out that it isn't an automatic.

    Don't know much about the Kia version, but it bears repeating (probably already done here on DT, but I'm too lazy to do a search and link to it) the specs of the Isuzu-powered version.

    1990-1991 Lotus Elan
    Approximately 470 sold in the US...I've heard there are about 300 left
    2250 pounds
    88.6 inch wheelbase
    FWD...but amazing nonetheless, according to reviews
    $39,000 MSRP
    130 hp or 165 hp with turbo
    0-60 6.7 seconds (turbo)

    A 1991 for $13K and a new turbo(!) for sale.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, I learn more in here than I did in High School.
    This a Kia I would be proud to drive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, Sean. Nobody knows everything about cars.

      Delete
  3. In my first job out of school my boss had one of these, a Lotus built one in BRG with a GT25R turbo kit. It was a quirky cool little thing because it was so uncommon and different. Very well maintained too. Must be one of the 300 that K2 referred to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The guy ditched the IHI and installed a Garrett? I'd love to hear more details about that.

      Delete
    2. Yes, that's right. I don't remember all the details, but I'll see if I can find his contact info and maybe get him to come on over to DT and comment.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, CFlow. That would be interesting. Maybe he had a non-turbo and then added the Garrett? Or maybe the Garrett upped the hp or is more reliable or something. It would be really great to know what he thought of the car and why he did what he did to it. From a collector point of view, it doesn't seem like a great idea. But if he raced it, then that would make a good reason. Or he was just nuts and loved more P O W E R!

      Delete
  4. Wow, looking at the photos, those were 40,000 really rough kilometers. The driver's seat side bolster is chewed, and the steering wheel is absolutely shredded. Maybe these things are really hard to drive?

    Anyway, for me this might be simultaneously the Best Kia Ever and the Worst Lotus Ever (due to fwd). No, I take that back.... I had forgotten about the Elite and the Eclat.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wondering if the glove box latch is a telling sign of Kia quality or Lotus design?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wasn't this thing supposed to compete with the mercury Capri of the same era. Or vise versa?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No offense, but I’m not sure if you’re serious about that question. I think it’s a great one personally and wondered exactly that. As a result, I wrote an article comparing and contrasting the histories of both cars a few years ago for a small enthusiast zine which is now dead and gone. I don’t have permission to reprint it and judging by the past posts here on DT, I doubt anybody would read it. What I write now probably won’t, either. But here’s a few salient items that I can remember off the top of my head.

      So I’ll keep it short; the quick answer is, though both cars were developed seemingly in tandem, they were never meant to compete with each other. I believe that without the development of the more modern Lotus Elan, we would not have any of the current Lotus cars, period. There probably wouldn’t even still be a Lotus car company, in fact. Why? Because the car that we’re talking about, originally codenamed M90 then recoded as X100, was originally developed in conjunction with Toyota in 1981. Peter Stevens was the designer. Then GM took over Lotus and it became the M100 and that’s where the Isuzu connection came from. The story doesn’t end there. There was a Lotus Elan S2, but it wasn’t under GM or the later extension of the model by Kia. Instead, GM unloaded their interest in the British carmaker to Bugatti, who produced the Elan S2. The S2 had as many updates as well as performance-limiting changes and they are not necessarily any better for the effort that was put into them. My records indicate approximately 800 were produced, mainly sold in Europe and Asia and it was, all things considered, quite successful for Bugatti. Though there were envisioned as additional versions, they were never anything other than a two-seater.

      On the Mercury Capri front, the car began life at the Ford Barchetta concept, which dates back to 1982. Ghia designed the exterior and Italdesign did the interior. I’ve never come across any indication that Ford even knew about the Elan. The Fiero, CRX, EXA and X1/9 were tested together with the Barchetta concept car in clinics in 1984. The finished car was always a 2+2 and Ford leveraged its interest in Mazda, notably grabbing the motor from 323 GTX and the pre-1990 323 (BF) platform.

      [img]http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/fordbarchetta1.jpg[/img]

      The MSRP on the Capri XR2 was around $15K, while the Elan was around $40K.

      Approximately 47,428 Capris were sold in the US. 470 Elans were sold in the US. I do not have production numbers on the Kia version.

      If you think ridiculously irrelevant information like this is interesting, please leave me a comment. If it’s not, don’t encourage me and say nothing.

      Delete
    2. Also, the M100 was never intended to be a replacement for the original Elan. They should have come up with a different name, in my opinion, if they didn't want the two compared. Which they were, of course. And look how that worked out.

      Delete
    3. How on earth did I manage NEVER to have heard about the Capri XR2? I have to assume it was never sold up here in Canada. I just read the wiki article on it. Apparently it was imported from Ford of Australia. I am all the more surprised, because I am a Ford guy, especially the "captive imports".

      Oh, and personally I welcome your contribution, K2. Keep it up.

      Delete
    4. Thanks, Bobinott! I appreciate the support. I'd guess that you're spot on when you say that no XR2s were imported to Canada. I don't really know, to tell you the truth.

      Delete
    5. "How on earth did I manage NEVER to have heard about the Capri XR2? "

      Because the Miata came out at the same time. End of story.

      Delete
  7. Lotus M90/X100 Concept

    [img]http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/4b/44/92/4b4492ed96b27577cf578ecc73e546c3.jpg[/img]

    ReplyDelete
  8. I wonder if Kia's experience with the Elan had any impact on this concept?

    [img]http://www.madle.org/i03kiakcv3.jpg[/img]

    ReplyDelete

Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint Eastwood...it don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="http://www.IMAGE_LINK.com" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.