The Safari Everything scene has produced some unexpected off-roaders, but a 1999 Lotus Elise “Version Safari” is the most unexpected. It’s also the best kind of unexpected because a lightweight, mid-engined Lotus Elise is a fire road fever dream car. And that dream could come true for someone abroad, now that a safari zone Series 1 Elise is for sale in France, Motorpasion reports.
French video producer and designer Mathieu Echeverri is parting with his safari-modded Lotus Elise after having commissioned DECL Concept to build it in 2018. I’m pleasantly surprised this Elise isn’t on Bring A Trailer with a stupidly high bidding price. The Leboncoin listing has it priced at €22,500, or roughly $26,000, which doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.
The Elise was originally from the U.K., but was imported to France in 2016 with 66,000 miles on the odometer. There’s no mention of the amount of miles it accrued between then and now, but the listing claims both the engine and transmission were rebuilt following its import. After the rebuild, the seller says the car picked up about 20,000 miles.
That’s not a lot for the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which is transverse- mounted in the rear of the car, sitting over the powered rear axle. The engine makes 118 horsepower and nearly 122 lb-ft of torque.
That doesn’t sound like much, but don’t forget the Series 1 Elise is just under 1,600 pounds. Motorpasion claims that’s good for “6,1 kg/CV,” which is the measure the site uses for power-to-weight. But using the formula from our own David Tracy, the Elise has a power-to-weight ratio of around 7.38 horsepower per 100 pounds.
That’s a lot on a light, rear-wheel drive car meant for the dirt! Swinging the Elises’s rear end around looks like a blast but if interested buyers aren’t keen on running the Elise off-road, the listing says the Elise can be reverted to stock prior to sale. The Elise has just over 8 inches of ground clearance with its safari mods, per Motorpasion, and I’d leave that alone to go bombing down the trail.