Blurring The Lines Between Go-Karts And Sports Cars With The Limited Edition Lotus 340R


Lotus is not acknowledged for producing autos bogged down by luxuries and gimmicks, but the featherweight open-wheel 340R tends to make the company’s driver’s autos seem to be like overly plush comfort cruisers by comparison.

The Lotus 340R is an intense and uncommon machine, and two decades soon after its debut it is even now about as near to a kart as autos get. Primarily based on the Lotus Elise, itself a spartan style committed to driving purity, the 340R ratcheted that ethos to an additional degree, and is extremely considerably in line with Colin Chapman’s philosophies that moulded the manufacturer’s identity. Lacking fenders and a roof, you’d be forgiven for pondering that this automobile was meant purely for circuits, and whilst a weekend trackway is almost certainly the very best spot to spot a 340R, they are street legal in Europe and the United kingdom.

The illustration featured right here ratchets up the car’s stats additional even now, reaching a claimed 192hp in contrast to the common 177hp made by the naturally aspirated one.eight-liter inline-4. The added electrical power is courtesy of the optional Sport Pack, which adds a Janspeed exhaust between other small tweaks. This automobile is also a single of only 43 lefthand-drive examples constructed from the scant complete manufacturing run of 340 units (the car’s identify was initially conceived as a reference to the targeted electrical power to excess weight ratio—340hp per ton—but when that figure wasn’t attained in the manufacturing model, Lotus made the decision to preserve the identify and construct the corresponding variety of units rather).

Fanatics at the time weren’t concerned when it was announced that the electrical power-to-excess weight fell brief of the target, evidenced by the truth that all 340 units had been spoken for prior to the model’s release in the 12 months 2000. The automobile was plainly meant for drivers in search of efficiency by way of lightness rather than electrical power, but the 340R wasn’t a straight line slouch both, in a position to supply the -60 sprint in significantly less than four.five seconds, which was more rapidly than some of the era’s purported supercars. And in the corners, hardly something with a license plate bracket could touch this Lotus in its day, or ours for that matter.

Its gallop was delivered by a one.eight-liter Rover K-series engine. Developed by the Birmingham, England company aptly referred to as Powertrain, it was based mostly out of the city’s well-known Longbridge suburb, which had begun automotive manufacture in 1905. The variant employed in the 340R is referred to as the VHPD (Extremely Substantial Efficiency Derivative), which incorporates the 1796cc in-line 4-cylinder configuration with dual overhead camshafts and ten.five:one compression. Lotus also outfitted the electrical power plant with its personal electronic fuel injection method. Optimum electrical power is made at a rather shouty seven,800rpm, whilst its peak torque of 146lb-ft is reached at five,000rpm. In other phrases, there is not considerably exciting to be had with no letting the tach do a almost complete sweep ahead of shifting up—top velocity was nothing at all to create residence about at all around 130mph. But once again, this is a Lotus extremely considerably in retaining with the company’s light-weight mandate, and with a curb excess weight of just about 1450lbs (~ 658kg), the automobile was constructed to carve up race tracks and mountain roads, not drag strips. 

With a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration and specially spec’d Yokohama semi-slicks created for the 340R, the lithe minor Lotus presented intense ranges of traction, enabling it to carry its velocity by way of the corners to a degree that would have even its somewhat heavier Hethel brethren drifting off of the racing line. Check drive reviews at the time of the 340R’s release praised its all but comprehensive absence of understeer, and thanks to its lightness and appropriately matched electrical power output, a single did not want to be traveling at multiples of the velocity restrict to take pleasure in its mechanical abilities.

The semi-slick Yokohama A038 LTS tires are wrapped all around ten-spoke magnesium alloy wheels covering 282mm AP Racing discs, suspended by dual wishbones front and rear functioning with adjustable Koni shock absorbers. The bonded aluminum chassis is a longtime Lotus staple—ain’t broke, really don’t fix—borrowed from the Elise, whilst the exterior is certain to the 340R conserve for a couple of carryover elements like the insectoid headlights. An exciting bit of components-bin trivia is the truth that mirrors are from an Aprilia RSV one thousand motorbike.

Within the cabin, as you can see from over or by way of the clear non-doors from the side, it is a extremely spartan affair, with driver and sole passenger retained by a bucket seat and 4-level harness from the factory. There is minor to be distracted by within this automobile, which is to be anticipated. From the point of view of the occupants, it was also generally mentioned that when driven flat out for prolonged intervals of time, the radiator mounted in the front of the automobile could transfer a excellent deal of heat into the cabin, which may be a  welcome supply of warmth if you locate your self winding all around in large-altitude in the roofless 340R.

The automobile was at first launched as a idea at Birmingham’s Motor Display in 1998 but demand meant that a manufacturing model was announced a minor more than a 12 months later on. At launch as a 2000 model 12 months motor vehicle, the 304R offered for £35,000 (~$46,500) and the 340R in our photoshoot was purchased by its recent owner—the car’s second—at Lotus Cerini in Castelletto Sopra Ticino, in Italy’s Piedemonte area, about 60 miles north east of Turin.

However they are uncommon websites anyplace in the globe, the vast majority of the 340R’s manufacturing run went to Europe and Japan, with reportedly significantly less than ten at first producing their way to the US, in which the automobile was not deemed street legal. As a end result, discovering a 340R for resale in the US will be extremely tough function, whilst in the United kingdom and Europe right now, you can anticipate to locate a 340R going at auction for anyplace in between $fifty five,000 up to all around $95,000 offered the relative illiquidity of the car’s market place. But even at the 6-figure mark, it is even now a excellent value—besides the truth that this is a constrained edition automobile that epitomizes the ethos of a single of the world’s foremost creators of racing and sports activities automobile historical past, it is a sublime driving knowledge that blurs the lines in between go-karts and sports activities autos. And it seems a hell of a good deal far better than the standard exoskeleton autos that have taken the mantle considering that.