There have been a number of landmark designs since the earliest sports cars were introduced. In the post-WWII era that has included classics like the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari Dino, and the original 1960s Elan. Usually such cars are supplanted by heavier, larger and more luxurious models in an effort to broaden the market appeal and expand sales. Or they die. Or the companies behind them flirt with bankruptcy.
By the 1990s Lotus Cars, had taken the Esprit far upmarket, and then went into a front wheel drive cul-de-sac with the unloved M100 Elan. The company returned to the basics with the Elise, a featherweight really no-frills, mid-engine sports car with an aluminum chassis and fiberglass body.
The first generation was not available in the U.S. market. But the following “Federal” model was introduced to the U.S. for the 2005 model year and facelifted versions remain in production. It carved out a unique place for itself on the sports car scene as the lightest and arguably the most exhilarating machine in terms of handling prowess. It is still the purest production sports car on the market. Continue reading “How the Less Was Won By the Lotus Elise” »
As one of the world’s major auto shows, New York always has its share of new vehicle introductions, and 2014 was no different with the new Nissan Murano, Toyota Camry, and Ford Focus sedan. Our interests, however, center specifically on sports car events (and non-events). Below is a summary of this year’s notable moves.
Alfa Romeo is returning to the States. It’s for real this time with the mid-engine 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C. Sporting a 237 hp four cylinder turbo and a twin clutch six speed semi-automatic transmission, this is a big deal. Little else in sports car land pairs approximately 2,000 lbs with wait… wait… wait… manual steering! Yes, it’s true. There will not be any power assist filter between the front wheels and the driver. With 258 lb-ft of torque and 80 percent of it available at a diesel-like 1,700 rpm, count on this to be loads of fun and the purest sports car since the Lotus Elise.
Aston Martin rolled out an “entry level” V8 Vantage at just a hair under $100k. Aside from the lower price, power increased to 430 hp and additional styling tweaks were made. The power upgrade certainly helped it avoid regular Special Ed status below. Aston also launched the DB9 Carbon Edition but we’ll let that one slide.