Tuesday, October 14, 2003

An old friend: I haven't read Road & Track regularly since I was 18, and maybe picked up 5 issues or so off the rack since then. The days of drooling over Lambos and reading reviews of the Top Five Vehicles You'll Never Be Able To Afford are past, mainly because I have zero interest in the latest Beemer or whatever else they're pushing. But today I was browsing the magazine rack looking for an article suitable for a marketing class discussion and I came across R & T.

Bang! Right there on the cover, Lotus Elise Coming To America. My last memory of Lotus cars is the dealership near my old hometown (was it in Peapack?). Beyond that, it's crank up a tape of For Your Eyes Only and watch Bond destroy two (?) Lotus Esprits. They had fallen on hard times after the death of Colin Chapman, lost their focus and all but disappeared. So sad.

Well, to paraphrase George Costanza, "They're back, baby!" The new Elise has done well in Europe and it's coming to the states. Priced (supposedly) under $40,000, R & T's reviewer calls it "...arguably the most enjoyable car on the planet to drive..." The thing is tiny, smaller than a Miata, so you won't be climbing into the back seat for a cuddle and a grab, but if you've got a yen for a sportster that will make somebody's Boxster look like a Volvo, this is it (assuming you've got $40,000 to play with, of course). Pictures in the mag (sorry the articles not available online) are of the Euro model, but if the U.S. version is similar, it's a true stripped down rocket sled. The interior looks as simple and uncongested as you could want, but A/C is standard, in case you forget to take the top down, as is a Blaupunkt stereo, in case the wind and engine noise (which is billed as "nominal") aren't enough.

I'm still too jaded to sit drooling over pages of exotic toys priced higher than my still in progress graduate degree, but I've got a soft spot for Lotus. It's nice to see them rising out of the ashes. Hope they succeed.

Now if they'll just bring back the F1 team all will be made right.

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