No doubt about it: the Lotus Excel is one among truth forgotten greats. it going to are little quite a heavily tweaked Eclat, but the fashionable touches employed intentionally genius,
Peter Stevens (whose CV includes such luminaries because the McLaren F1, M100 Lotus Elan and 555-liveried Subaru Impreza WRC) brought the car bang up so far for the 1980s, because of the smoother nose and wider-looking body
Marque snobs tend to sneer at this, somewhat, but considering the much-lauded Ferrari 355 is basically nothing quite an extensively re-designed 348, this hardly seems fair.
It’s certainly a really handsome car; the rear may be a little bulky-looking, perhaps, but from every other angle it’s a minimum of a match for a few of its rather more famous siblings. And boy
does it go well. The surprisingly popular SA (which used a tried and tested its self-shifting gearbox) is probably the apparent anachronism within the line-up, but the manuals, with their Lotus-designed 2.2-litre naturally aspirated engines are sports cars through and thrue.
The Lotus Excel’s interior is extremely much of an era. It feels right, from the low-set driving position and high-set transmission tunnel, to the texture of the chunky three-spoke wheel . but in terms of favor , you’ll do better.
If you’ll get past the questionable aesthetics, however, the Excel, well, excels in just about every other respect.
it’s going to lack the neck-snapping urge of a blown Esprit, but Lotus founder, Colin Chapman’s maxim of ‘simplify and add lightness’ certainly applies here: 180bhp (on later cars at least) during a car that weighs comfortably but, 1200kg is usually getting to feel rapid, and with maximum power approaching song at a gloriously screaming 6500rpm, every journey is hugely entertaining.
And this is often a Lotus, of course, so you’ll just about guarantee that the handling are going to be epic
Lotus could also be an acronym of many Troubles Usually Serious to blinkered badge snobs who really need to change the record, but bag a sound example, and you’ll find yourself with one among today’s genuine performance car bargains.
What to look for?
1:The Excel was always marketed as a sports car, but while you’d therefore expect a degree of engine and road noise at speed, the Excel can approach the unbearable, since Lotus was notoriously tight-fisted with the quantity of sound-deadening it fitted at the factory. Don’t let this put you off an otherwise healthy and sound car, however, since modern sound-deadening are often retro-fitted relatively easily (and relatively inexpensively, if you shop around), especially within the doors.
2: Ask any owner of a 1980s Lotus, and they’ll tell you that the most important headache these cars present concerns electrics. Dashboard gauges (the fuel and pressure gauges seem to be the guiltiest parties) can tell all kinds of lies if a sender connection is either badly earthed, corroded or loose.
If all else fails, it’s worth checking the main earthing point located on the pedal box, since many of the electrical harness systems and engine electrics are earthed here.
3 Juddering from any car’s steering at low speeds should be investigated as a matter in fact , since it’s usually indicative of something seriously awry. Where the Excel cares .
however, likelihood is that it’s all part and parcel of the car’s inherent design. For reasons best known to Lotus, the Excel’s steering geometry was designed intentionally with none sort of front-wheel Ackerman angle. therefore the two front wheels lack the geometry whereby they describe differing arcs
because the wheel is turned to make sure their perpendicular angle meets the rear axle line at an equivalent point, meaning low-speed manoeuvres in an Excel are often disconcertingly scrabbly and juddery affairs, especially on loose surfaces. It sounds alarming, but the factory insisted from the outset that the Excel’s high-speed handling and steering feel was much improved as a result of this idiosyncrasy. they’re pointy but ‘alive’ in your hands at speed.
4 Like many Lotus models before it, the Excel relied heavily on out-sourced parts throughout its construction, meaning tracking down spares is simpler than usual. Some are obvious – the tail lights are inverted Rover SD1 units, as an example .
Naturally the moisture drain holes are therefore placed incorrectly, in order that they can refill with dirt and mold . Other details are less obvious; following Toyota’s involvement of Lotus within the development of its Supra sports coupé, the Mk2 Supra’s W58 manual transmission was utilized in early Excels (albeit in conjunction with a Lotus bellhousing), along side the driveshafts and differential.
Similarly, the clutch brake cylinder is shared with the Toyota Carina Mk2 and various Celicas, while the pop-up headlight motors also are used on the Mk1 Toyota MR2.
5 The Excel’s 2.2-litre slant-four Type 912 engine is usually a reasonably robust unit, but again can suffer from iffy electrics. A persistent misfire and/or stalling could also be traced back to fuel starvation issues
but it’s not unprecedented for the distributor’s pick-up wire to make similar problems. Replacing an ingenious or cheap after-market distributor is usually thought to be an honest place to start out when attempting to rectify a poor-running Excel engine.
6 You won’t suffer any rust issues thereupon Oliver Winterbottom-designed (and for the Excel, Peter Stevens-tweaked) wedge-shaped GRP body, of course, but look carefully for common related issues. Star cracks, crazing, mis-matched paintwork and impact damage all suggest but kid-glove treatment.
7 Poor front seats? Those from the contemporary Jaguar XJS slot right in, using the prevailing seat runners. they’re slightly narrower but much easier to seek out .
Our verdict about Lotus excel :
Think ‘1980s Lotus’, and most of the people instantly picture the Esprit turbo. That’s a shame, but it does mean that Excel values, have remained super-low for several years. Silly-priced ultra-low milers still crop up every now then
but the very fact remains that even mint Excels won’t set you back by far more than £6000 – and that’s from a dealer. Lower your sights a touch , and you’ll still bag a wonderfully exemplar for around £4000.
The interiors – of earlier cars especially – might cause you to wince a touch ,with their ruched leather and pretend wood trim, but get one onto a difficult back road with many dips and blind cambers, and you’ll soon learn to tune it out as you exploit these cars’ legendary performance and handling.
Is the Excel one among the car performance bargains of the decade? We certainly think so.