Do you ever wonder what happens to a concept car after it’s done touring shows? Many meet the crusher while luckier ones get shuffled into a warehouse. The luckiest get to spend time in a museum. Some, like this 335 HP V8 Lotus Etna and this Lotus M200 Speedster, are yours for the taking.
Both cars are offered up by a dealership in the Netherlands, and both are going for the same price.
The Lotus Etna rolled out onto the floor of the 1984 British Motor Show. As its design suggests, it was supposed to be a successor to the Esprit. And it had everything you would want from a punch of power to design by Giorgetto Giugiaro.
We wrote about it in 2015:
The website Classic Driver says it incorporated a new active suspension system from the company’s Formula One cars, plus traction control, anti-lock brakes, active noise canceling, and a 4.0-liter “Type 909" V8 engine derived from one of their racing motors. It was said to have 335 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, impressive numbers for its time.
Sadly, in a story all too common with Lotus, the project for a successor to the Esprit got shuttered. And the concept you see here? It wasn’t even a working prototype. It was a model of clay, wood and fiberglass.
In 2001, the concept was picked up by a Lotus fan who found one of the two Type 909 engines inside of the model. And using an Esprit chassis he finished what Lotus didn’t, making this a real, working car.
So this Etna is a one-off concept turned into a real car. The dealership, Metropole Classics, wants about $140,000 for it.
The other car available to hook your peepers onto is this M200 Speedster.
It’s based on one of Lotus more unpopular cars, the front-wheel-drive Elan M100. The drivetrain in this one is a 1.6-liter Isuzu turbo four making 162 HP and 148 lb-ft torque, transmitted through a manual transmission.
It’s also a one-off and made its debut at the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show. An old Bonhams listing describes what’s going visually with this car:
In the M200 offered here, designer/stylist Julian Thompson – whose subsequent Lotus Elise model would become a true best seller – produced a most exciting prospect with a simple airstream deflector instead of true windscreen, individual driver and passenger cockpit openings, a large rear wing and fared-in headlight positions replacing the retractable style of the baseline production model.
Julian Thompson fashioned this engaging little concept car as a niche special “for real enthusiasts” but his intention was as much “to show management how we could move on from the Elan”.
And yes, that interior was inspired by swimsuits.
This one is up for the same $140,000 price. The car was also said to promote rear-wheel steering and Lotus Variable Valve Actuation engine technology. The Bonhams ad also describes how the car was initially put together so poorly that the brakes fell off.
Thankfully, that should have long been fixed.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, because I dig the Speedster’s looks — it reminds me a little of a Smart Crossblade — but that Etna sounds like a real ball of fun. If you’re the kind of person who could afford these, give Metropole Classics in the Netherlands a shout. If not, feel free to stare at them and dream like I am.