Engine:1.8L 1795CC l4 GAS DOHC Naturally Aspirated
Number of Doors: 2
Trim: Base Convertible 2-Door
Number of Cylinders: 4
Drive Type: RWD
Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
These days most of the news out of Lotus comes when it releases a lighter or faster version of the Elise, Exige or Evora. However, the stripped-out, Elise-based 340R might already show the logical conclusion of that concept, despite coming out in 2000. Now, one of the 340 made is up for auction on eBay Motors, and the seller in Fort Lauderdale, FL, claims that it's the only street-legal example available in the US.
Lotus founder Colin Chapman always had an obsession with making his vehicles as light as possible, and the 340R adhered to that adage about as closely as a street car could in 2000. These minimalist roadsters eschewed opening doors, windows and a roof in the pursuit of cutting the fat off the brand's hardly portly Elise. The company's engineers also trimmed away the fenders to give their creation a semi-open wheel design that looked as wild when new as today. For the interior, they installed two racing buckets, and the most of the rest was left in bare metal, including the pedals. All of the changes reportedly brought the 340R down to around 1,545 pounds.
Power comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with a five-speed manual gearbox. The 340R is available with 177 horsepower or a tuned 187-hp version from that mill, but the seller doesn't specify which one this is. It's still a pretty fresh car, though, with just 3,577 miles claimed on the odometer.
Lots of contact, debris cautions, trips into the wall, full-course yellows and a red flag - these are the kinds of racing terms you unbox when you want to have a conversation about NASCAR... or the Formula One grand prix of Monaco. In this case we're not talking about the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, we're talking about 78 laps in the South of France that even featured a fallen camera cable just like that stock-car race.
This year, Mercedes-AMG Petronas drivers treated their chassis' like busses instead of F1 cars, Romain Grosjean treated his Lotus like a battering ram, Sergio Perez kept sticking his McLaren's nose in places and eventually got it smacked, and maybe the size of the drivers' mirrors should be changed instead of the tires as there were almost as many firsts as there were crashes. Plenty of F1 fans wish Monaco were removed from the calendar, yet even though it doesn't specialize in traditional thrills, that doesn't mean nothing happens during the parade through - and into - the barriers.
It's not been a great week for Lotus. Seven days ago, the UK-based automaker laid off a quarter of its workforce, terminating "up to 325 jobs." And then, just a few days ago, it was reported that the company would be ending US sales of its well-received Evora due to the expiration of an airbag exemption. The Evora is the only vehicle Lotus sells in the US, meaning its end effectively removes the brand from the market.
That was apparently a bridge too far, though, as the company has issued defiant statement, claiming it'll be back, in both the US and Canada, for model year 2016, with an air-bag compliant Evora.
"I know that this will be welcome news to our thousands of owners and fans in North America, but the reality is that there was never any intention to leave. The North American market is vitally important for us and we intend to expand our dealer network and grow our sales volumes in the future," Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus said in a statement. "I would like to thank our fantastic Lotus following for their support over the years and remind them that we are working on many exciting products for the future. We will continue to explore our core values on how to make a sports car better by making it faster, lighter and maintain the pure driving experience."