The original Lotus Elise is widely considered one of the purest sports cars ever made. Weighing just 1600 lb and stripped of anything that might add unnecessary ballast or spoil the connection between the car and the guy driving it, the little Lotus had no ABS, no traction control and no power steering. It didn’t even have a brake booster.
But it did have a much wilder brother. A car that made even the Elise-based Exige coupe seem sane. Called the 340R, it was limited to, you guessed it, just 340 units, and one of those rare machines has cropped up for sale on Collecting Cars showing just 5856 miles on its Stack gauges.
Lotus first showed the 340R as a concept at the 1998 Birmingham Motor Show, the 340 name referring to a theoretical 340 hp per tonne power to weight ratio derived from a projected 1100 lb (500 kg) curb weight.
The production car that followed in 2000 couldn’t reach that target, but it was no slouch. Built around the Elise’s bonded aluminium architecture, but featuring no doors, windows, roof, or much in the way of bodywork, it weighed 1488 lb (675 kg), a saving of 112 lb (50 kg).
And instead of the base Elise’s 118 hp 1.8-liter K-series, the 340R was homologated with a much more hardcore K that punched out a solid 177 hp (and a wispy 127 lb ft of torque that made a Honda VTEC feel like a V8). Many cars were then upgraded to even hotter 190 hp spec after registration, though this one appears to have stuck with the standard motor, which Autocar’s May 2000 test proved was good enough for zero to 60mph in 4.6 seconds.
As you’d hope given the low mileage, it’s very well preserved, down to the bucket seats’ blue Alcantara centers and the Safety Devices harnesses draped over them. The OEM Technomagnesium rims also still wear the specially designed and very cool-looking Yokohama A038R tires – though we’d want to make sure these aren’t the original tires before we headed to the track and attempted to pull 1g on turn six.
The exhaust has been upgraded to a 2bular unit, but the original Janspeed silencer is included, and it’s reassuring to see a bulging history file and all the handbooks present.
This 2000-registered machine is still too young to qualify for import to the U.S as a road car. But the 340R is such a crazy thing you could probably fill the four years until it is legal just drinking in all those details in the garage.