ELITE | 1974
Roomier still than the Eclat and preceding it by a year, the Type 75 Elite, introduced in 1974, was a two-door saloon with a hatchback body shell — a niche sports car well ahead of its time.
The Elite was intended from the very start to be both more luxurious and more expensive than any previous Lotus, and its styling marked a new direction for the company while retaining the fibreglass body and backbone chassis of earlier Lotus models.
Designer Oliver Winterbottom’s wedge-shaped lines were the height of fashion, and the complex confection of straight edges and smooth panels gave the car terrific aero results to go along with the modern flair. The spacious interior was designed with the help of industry superstar Giorgetto Giugiaro and accommodated four adults and their luggage in style, while steel beams in the doors helped Lotus win its first-ever award for safety.
In the Elite’s later years, however, Britain’s recession bit hard. By 1981, production had fallen to just one car per month, and the car was dropped from Lotus’s line-up the following year.