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Why now is the time to buy a used Lotus - evo Market - Buying a used Lotus - expert view and opinion

The second-hand and collector market is waking up to the Elise, Exige and Evora. But which versions should you buy, and why?

Expert view – Guy Munday

Guy has enjoyed a 27-year career selling Lotus cars and set up his own sales company last year.

‘The early Elises are good for their collectability. The P- and R-registration cars had aluminium brake discs – today I’d urge owners to take them off and wrap them in cotton wool – and good, low-mileage cars are harder to find. The 111S is the best compromise, and it looks nice too, but personally I’d have the Sport 160, with its popping-and-banging engine.

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‘The S2 Elise is a very broad church. The early, standard cars are more desirable with the Sports Tourer pack, and 70 per cent sold had this specification, so it’s worth waiting for one.’

Guy also sees the appeal of both the more potent Rover-engined 111S and the Toyota-engined 111R. ‘Later S cars often had hard tops and air con, and at £15,000 to £17,000 today that’s a really nice car – there’s some price overlap with early, higher mileage R cars. Which to go for is a conundrum for the buyer. Having said that, warranty claims dropped by two-thirds overnight with the switch to Toyota power. Don’t fear a K-series car, but keep £1000 aside just in case.

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‘Initially the Exige was difficult to sell, and they were underdeveloped. Now, just get it bought – don’t quibble over £500! With the S2 I’d go for the 240 Performance Pack, which included uprated brakes and a roof scoop.

‘I also think an early Evora at £30,000 is a nice car to have, but £5000 more gets the supercharged S.’

I bought one – Neil Reed

2001 Elise S2 Sports Tourer owner

‘I can’t bring myself to sell it. We’ve been through so much together. I’m aware that a regular S2 Elise is not the fastest, best handling, most refined or most comfortable car, but it puts a big smile on my face and for £10,000 I don’t think I can find another car to match it.’

The specialist – Jamie Matthews

Sales manager, Bell and Colvill Lotus

‘If you want to use your S2 Elise for track work, I’d say go straight for the 111R for the second-cam effect of the Toyota engine and its reliability. At between £15,000 and £24,000 they’re rock solid and a safe investment. S2 Exiges are starting to creep up in value, too.’

evo Road tester – Henry Catchpole

Features editor, evo magazine

‘It might seem like sacrilege to mention the V-word, but don’t forget about the Vauxhall VX220. It’s not quite as pretty and you’ll need to remember the starter button to avoid looking silly, but the 220 is a cracking car. For raw thrills the 197bhp Turbo at around £15,000 is a bargain, too.’

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