The List – part two

So that’s one down, two to go.

I could give you reams of hyperbolic, gilded puff extolling the virtues of my next selection, but life’s far too short for that sort of palaver. So suffice it to say that it’s a two-seat roadster, and a bloody good one at that. Capeesh? Great. Let’s move on and meet the car in question.

Lotus Elan S2 (2005 to 2006)

Whoa! Hang on just a tick; I’ve been informed by my diplomatic advisor of the need to make a public service announcement to the cloth cap and string back driving gloves brigade.

Message reads: you lot can bugger right off if you think I’m talking about that flimsy 1960s amalgam of plastic, mild steel and chewing gum that some self-appointed purists regard as the greatest roadster ever made. ‘Cos I’m not. Nope. Instead, I shall be discussing that avatar of ingenious engineering, the Elan M100. 

And while we’re at it, you can expunge all that puerile ‘Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious’ crap from your minds. Firstly, it ceased to be witty back when Moses was a nipper; and  secondly, the M100 is quite capable of covering interstellar mileages without falling to pieces in the process. Yes, M100s leak a bit (some more than others), don’t take kindly to disuse (seized calipers and, on the turbo versions, sticky wastegate actuators being typical consequences) and have wishbones that can rot from the inside out (less of a problem on the S2 models, with their galvanised rear ‘bones) but the overall picture is a whole lot rosier than the naysayers (a pox on the lot of ’em) would have you believe.

But never mind that; how does the M100 drive? In a word: brilliantly. It goes where you point it, won’t shake all your fillings loose and the turbocharged SE and S2 models have that lovely surge of on-boost power that’s the hallmark of 1980s-style forced induction. But with front-wheel-drive it’s not a car for those who enjoy going through hedges backwards. [If that’s you then don’t feel too bad about it – the M100 doesn’t have enough storage space for your spare chest wig* and the bolt through your neck would almost certainly smash the driver’s window**.]

So it’s a car for would-be Prosts rather than wannabee Sennas, and all the better for it.

Elwood, circa 2006.

It’s good to sit in too, with a cabin that’s both roomy and comfortable. Unlike certain other sports cars (i.e. the ones so beloved of hairdressers), you can drive all day in an M100 without needing to be winched out of your seat when you finally turn off the ignition. And if style’s your thing, well the M100’s got that covered too. It was penned by Peter Stevens – yup, the same Peter Stevens who also fashioned the McLaren F1 – and still looks great nearly three decades down the line. Oh, and it’s got pop-up headlights***. Two different types of pop-ups, actually, as Lotus changed the design fairly early on in the M100’s production life.

I’m lucky enough to have owned five M100s over the years, including at least one example of all three variants. But I can only pick one of them, so it’ll have to be Elwood (it’s a long story), the first of two S2s that I owned. A vision in Pacific Blue, Elwood didn’t miss a beat during my all-too-brief period of ownership. Impending marriage meant that I sold him far too soon and didn’t get the chance to take him on any epic adventures. Still, I had a blast every time I took him for a spin. And that, sports fans, is what really counts.

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have kept the car and, to slip into west of Scotland patois, dinghied my wife-to-be. But that’s another story…

* This is a lie.

** This isn’t.

*** You know the old saying: no pop-ups, no party****

After the psycho ninja attack Beagle debacle (see part 1), I augmented my anti-theft armoury by acquiring a Polar Bear/Yeti hybrid that the local zoo was keen to part with.

**** I might have made that one up.

Home page image (c) Dave Clements