Forbidden Fruit: 1997 Lotus Elise S1 RHD – Sold?

by | Apr 2023 | Classifinds, Sports Car Saturday

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April 26, 2023, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

By the late 1990s, European emissions and safety regulations caught up with American standards. That meant many cars sold in Europe could be imported to the U.S. much easier.  One notable exception was the modern mid-engine Lotus Elise Series 1.  A modern car weighing in at only 1,600 pounds, Lotus engineers never intended the car to meet U.S. Crash standards.  Consequently, the Lotus Elise was forbidden fruit on U.S. shores for a quarter century.  The EPA’s twenty-five-year rule now means early Elise examples, despite being right-hand-drive only, can be legally imported into the U.S.  One example is this 39K-Mile British Racing Green over Tan 1997 Lotus Elise last spotted for sale on Craiglist in March 2023 in Austin, Texas.

Last offered for $39,850,, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is at the higher end of this guide’s one-year results summary:

British sports car manufacturer Lotus Cars launched its innovative, two-seat, rear-wheel-drive, mid-engined roadster in Europe in September 1996 as a 1997 model.  In typical Lotus fashion, the Elise was a lightweight masterpiece, especially for a modern car.  Utilizing a fiberglass body shell sitting atop a bonded extruded aluminum chassis, the Lotus Elise weighed only 1,598 pounds. The low weight provided sub-six second acceleration and could achieve 150 mph. The Series 1 Lotus Elise was designed by Julian Thomson, then head of design at Lotus, and Richard Rackham, Lotus’s chief engineer.

The Hagerty YouTube Channel provides a nice overview of the modern Lotus Elise S1 and S2 history as told by automotive writer Jason Cammisa:

Other than the right-hand drive configuration, there is a lot to love about this 1997 Lotus Elise S1 for sale.  In addition to the full service history included with the sale, the seller does a nice job showing their car’s bumps and bruises in the photographs provided.  With just under 40K miles and a great color combination, you’ll have a great time putting this Elise through its paces…once you fit yourself in it!

If you are serious about buying this rare Lotus, you can start the conversation by contacting the seller using the information provided in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please remember to mention you saw their Elise featured here on Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“For sale is my 1997 Lotus Elise S1. This Elise is powered by a Rover K-series and paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. Finished in Lotus Racing Green over a tan leather interior.

The car was imported from the United Kingdom and is, therefore, RHD. This is one of only a handful of road-legal S1 Elises in the USA.

This Elise has 39,2xx original miles, this is documented and visible on the MOT history. I have a full-service history.

I have a clean and clear Massachusetts title in hand, and this car can be registered in any state. Car is federally legal and legally imported.

LAD Motorsport Tuned & Built
-160HP “Package”
-VHPD Cylinder head
-Close Ratio Gearbox
-Lowered on Exige Shocks (Koni Yellow)
-MMC Brakes
-Elise Parts QuickShifter(Dec 2022)

-Timing Belt (38,496mi)
-Spark Plugs, Wires, Distributor (38,496mi)
-Oil Change (39,100mi)

I will include spare parts, including an Elise Shower Cap, OEM Rover Oil Filter, etc.

1997 Lotus Elise S1
VIN: SCC111YN1VHA11132
MILES: 39,2xx miles
2 Keys & Extensive Service History
Austin TX

Show or go: What would you do with this 1997 Lotus Elise S1 for sale? Please comment below and let us know!


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