What would you pay for a 1998 Kia? Yeah I know, right? Well, prepare to have today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Vigato change your mind about '98 Kias, and maybe about what they should cost.
Quick now, think of a Lotus Elan. If you are of a certain age, what you are now picturing is a lithe fiberglass two-seat roadster with a DOHC four under-hood and go kart-like handling. If however you are of another generation, you will instead be picturing a lithe fiberglass two-seat roadster with a DOHC four under-hood and go kart-like handling… and front-wheel drive.
Colin Chapman loved car names beginning with E almost as much as he loved wearing pencilly mustaches and seeing his cars win races. Because there are only so many words that begin with E that are appropriate for an automobile, Lotus reused a few of them over time.
There may also have been financial reasons for it as well, as Lotus has, seemingly for the entirety of its existence, been on the brink of bankruptcy. That edge of insolvency made it tough for the company to engineer and introduce new models, and hence any time they did so, it was a big deal. And not just for Lotus, but for the enthusiast world as well.
Seeing the importance of each infrequent introduction, it was even more damning to the company when one didn't succeed. One of those that didn't was the M100 Elan, introduced in 1989. The Elan was Lotus' first all-new road car to be introduced since the Esprit in 1975 and it was to be different from any Lotus that had come before.
Deriving from a plan of then-parent GM to build a light sports car based around partner Toyota's mechanicals, the Elan was originally intended to be sold through Toyota dealers. That company's release of the MR2 pretty much killed the whole concept however.
It didn't kill the car though, and Lotus was able to forge ahead with a design based on a Peter Stevens' penned body and a drivetrain from another of GM's Japanese resources, Isuzu. Lotus debuted the M100 Elan to positive reviews for its impeccable handling and overall design, but there were still grumblings about it being front-wheel drive. Remember that Mazda's halo-wearing Miata debuted the same year and was hailed as the true successor to Lotus' original Elan.
The M100 didn't sell well, with a total of about 4,600 being pooped out until Lotus gave up on the car in 1995. Of course they say that one man's meat is another man's poison, or something like that, and when Lotus ended production of the M100, the tooling was bought by the Korean (sadly not Best Korean) company, Kia. Yep, that Kia.
This 1998 Kia Vigato is one of the around 820 built by the Korean company, and has the features that set it apart from the earlier British cars. Prominent among those are different (no longer Renault Alpine) tail lamps, Federal bumpers, changed dashboard switchgear, and, perhaps most importantly, a 1.8-litre 151-bhp DOHC four (HI-SPRINT! ULTRA POWER!) in place of the Elan's 1.6-litre Isuzu unit.
This one also rocks an arrest-me red over crap-that's-annoying red and black interior, and a pair of high-back sports seats. There's only 22K kilometers under its wheels, and it all looks to be in pretty nice shape. These cars were originally exported to Japan and like a lot of cars from the Land of the Rising Sun, this one has made its way to Canada. That may be spiting distance from the U.S., but sadly getting this kwazy Kia registered here would be akin to getting an ISIS leader on the 2016 Republican ticket.
Regardless of its illegal immigration status in the U.S., there's still likely a bunch of Canadians who would find this rare car as appealing as a Double-Double and a Dutchie at Timmy's. And, since we like to help out our Maple Leaf-waving friends, let's have a go at whether this rare Kia is worth its $22,500 (Canadian) price tag. That's about $20,000 American, and 15,900€ in case you Euro-rockers think it's Kia-licious.
What do you think, is this Kia worth that kind of cash? Or, is this an Elan that's just gone, baby, gone?
H/T to shauninyvr for the hookup!
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