Lotus has chosen the middle of a global pandemic to give the Elise a few classic paint jobs, paying homage to its long and successful racing history.
Let’s face it, a lot of people have some extra time on their hands at the moment. While the factories are quiet, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on what you’re all about. And for Lotus, there’s a fair bit to think about.
And because Lotus buyers absolutely love a special edition, this year it’s the Elise Classic Heritage Edition to get them excited.
You have a choice of four classic paint jobs (I hate the word “livery”) and the Elises are loaded up with extra gear.
Lotus Type 72D
Coyly – and wisely – dodging the reference to John Player Special, purveyors of death darts (cigarettes for younger readers), people reckon that this is the most iconic Formula 1 paint job. I violently disagree with that but hey, that’s just me.
The great Emerson Fittipaldi raced the 72D in 1972, hustling it to five victories for the great Brazilian over the course of the season.
Lotus Type 49B
Driven by another great, Damon’s dad Graham Hill, the 49B sports the gorgeous red, white and gold colours. Another tobacco product sponsored the team for 1968 and Hill and Lotus repaid their faith taking the car to a world championship win.
Like his son, Hill bravely led the team after the untimely death of a star driver (in this case Jim Clark), having been part of the 1-2 at the South African race won by the Scot.
Lotus Type 81
The roll call of drivers for the 1980 season machine , the Type 81, is impressive. 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell, Elio de Angelis and Mario Andretti who won the championship in 1978.
The 81 wasn’t a huge success – its best result was second in Brazil with de Angelis at the wheel. The car was powered by the near-ubiquitous Cosworth DFV V8 engine. I’d be quite happy to have back, thanks very much.
Lotus Type 18
The Type 18 goes all the way back to 1960. It was the first Lotus to score an F1 pole position and victory. Just to ensure its immortality, the driver was the late great Stirling Moss and the track was Monaco.
Setting aside the whole “jewel in the crown” nonsense, Monaco is one of my favourite races every year. And yes, you can fight me over that.
How much is an Elise Classic Heritage Edition and what do I get?
$104,990 + ORC
There will be a total of 100 of these cars made but how many of each one will be decided by customers. I quite like that but it also means that there won’t be an unseemly (and stupid) brawl over the black and gold machines.
The Classic Heritage Editions are based on the Lotus Elise Sport 220, which usually retails at $87,990. Lotus says the extra seventeen large translates to $27,000 worth of gear.
That includes a four-speaker stereo with DAB, cruise control, lightweight forged alloys, two-piece disc brakes and black carpets with floor mats.
As you can see in the photos, the exterior paint goes into the cabin, with matching upper door trim and seat inserts along with detailing on the door, shifter surround and dashboard. The Type 18 is slightly different, with red Alcantara inserts on the seats.
You can also access the usual options list, like the fibreglass hardtop, lightweight lithium-ion battery and the titanium exhaust.
You can order one of these now.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.