The 1975 Lotus Elite was considered by many, Colin Chapman the first, to be Lotus’ big break, its move into a more exclusive, richer market. The Elite offered the upper crust what it always had, excellent performance, particularly in the form of superlative handling. It relied on a steel backbone chassis and classic, pure Lotus coil-spring suspension. Contrary to previous Lotus cars, the Elite was a real four-seater, with a traditional configuration of front-engine and rear-wheel drive, which made it relatively exciting to drive, once the engine got into the power band.
The Elite was powered by a small, 2-liter overhead camshaft inline four-cylinder, that produced 160 horsepower, matched to a five-speed manual gearbox (an automatic transmission was offered as an option as soon as 1976). Despite its lack of low-end torque, it was enough to power this sedan to a top speed of 125 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds.
The original Elite were more station wagon than sedan, of course, and shared their body with the Lotus Eclat, which had a more conventional sliding roof line and trunk. The 1975 Lotus Elite was produced, in one form or another, until 1985.