Currently reading: Best used Lotus sports cars from £12k: used buying guide
Good condition second-hand Lotuses can be had from just £12k; our list considers everything up to £22k

Lotus has stayed true to its longstanding Colin Chapman formula for building lightweight, driver-focused sports cars, earning itself a reputation for creating some of the best handling cars in the world.

We examine some of the car maker's finest products of yesteryear below.

1. Lotus Elise Series 1 (1996)

Series i

The original and lightest of all Elises. Exclusively powered by K-series Rover engines that were susceptible to head gasket failure, so make sure it’s been changed.

Many have been used on track, too, so look for signs of poorly repaired crash damage and avoid all such cars.

See Lotus Elise for sale on PistonHeads

Pay from £12,000.

Lotus Elise: how much has changed in 20 years?

2. Elise 111S (1998)


Featuring a hot engine (with variable valve timing to raise output from 118bhp to 143bhp) and a close-ratio gearbox, this was the best of the early Elises, but rarity is pushing prices up today.

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Still, we’d back a nice, original 111S to be one of the best long-term bets for those looking for a return on investment.

Pay from around £17,000.

3. Exige (2000)


Literally a road-going racing car, a hard-topped Elise derived from its single-marque race series cars.

Featured the 178bhp VHPD (‘very high performance derivative’) engine from the 340R, with track-tuned suspension and a very noisy interior. Rare, so residually strong.

Pay from £25,000.

4. Elise Series 2 111R (2004)


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A new-generation, Series 2 model with increased weight and better crash protection was launched in 2000, but just as significant was the deletion of the long-serving K-series in favour of a 189bhp Toyota motor with its accompanying six-speed gearbox.

Pay from £16,000.

5. Elise SC (2008)


The SC heralded a major performance hike thanks to the fitment of a nonintercooled supercharger, raising power to 217bhp and releasing a flood of mid-range torque.

Extraordinarily easy to drive fast yet with sub-4.5sec 0-60mph potential.

Prices start at around £22,000.

Lotus Elise: how much has changed in 20 years?

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Little Min 7 February 2017

Excel - thoroughly developed,

Excel - thoroughly developed, reliable, rustproof, easy to maintain, fabulous handling and comfy ride, can be used every day - an unsung hero.
kcrally 18 June 2016

Lotus Eclat. JPS version.

Lotus Eclat. JPS version.
Bullfinch 20 June 2016

Alas Mr Kcrally

the convention is to ignore everything Lotus unless it is in some way an Elise.