Market Watch: Lotus Elise puts on a sprint

Price bulletin, 11 August 2021.

Classic Cars magazine

by Phil Bell |

Values for the retro-curvy Series 1 cars built from 1995 to 2000 are on the move, but these cars never really got cheap despite the common depreciation pressure of newer, faster generations.

And what depreciation there was has now reversed. The latest 9.4% increase reported in our Price Guide Movers On The Up takes rough cars to £6.75k and good, usable examples £9.5k. You can now expect to pay £13k for a mint one, and concours condition cars are centred on £17.5k. Those figures are for Elises with average mileages and by now, incomplete service histories inevitable for most cars as they pass down the food chain.

But the typical Elise has enjoyed a more charmed life. Most were bought new as fairweather fun cars and cherished by enthusiasts, though such adulation was balanced by a high likelihood of track day action, with all of the increased risks that brings. Any damage to the car’s bonded and rivetted extruded aluminium structure tends to mean a new tub is needed. Regardless of any track action, these cars have often covered significantly lower than average mileages and many have decently documented maintenance, leading to higher asking prices. In the absence of structural damage or old social media posts, it’s hard to be sure whether one has had a hard life on track, especially if it’s had a refresh since.

Lotus recently unveiled its last petrol-only sports car, the Emira, replacing the smaller Elise and the Evora, and the demise of a direct Elise replacement seems likely to push up values of all generations. Think about it, if you were gearing up for an S4 Elise you might reject the new Lotus offering and seek an earlier model instead.

Inevitably, the ever-higher performance achieved by the later series Elises will continue to attract a premium, but like its Lotus Seven grandaddy, these cars need nothing more than the basic specification engines to reconnect you with what driving is all about.

Price Guide Movers On The Up is part of 18 regular pages of market tips, analysis and buying advice in the latest issue of Classic Cars and this issue includes our 7-page Price Guide Quarterly update, covering more than 1400 different models.

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