Classic Cars

Unique of the Week: 1977 Lotus Eclat

The Lotus Eclat was a rare model and had unusual styling even when it debuted back in 1974.

The situation at Lotus’s Hethel, UK, headquarters is hopefully a lot healthier than it was a year ago, and every night we say a little prayer that something can be worked out to save what is perhaps one of greatest sports car makers ever. Names such as Esprit, Elan and Elite are perhaps the marque's most famous but there were other lesser known models like the Eclat that were just as impressive. Made from 1974 until 1982, the Eclat was a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe with a fastback body style.

When the Series I first launched in 1974, power came from a 2.0-liter four-pot that produced 160 horsepower and mated to a five-speed manual. Like every Lotus before and after it, the Eclat incorporated the use of various lightweight technologies and, in this case, a fiber-glass body. Its steel chassis, not surprisingly, was also developed by Lotus as well as its four-wheel independent suspension with coil springs. Beginning in 1980, Lotus upgraded the Eclat’s engine to a 2.2-liter unit which saw output increase. It should be noted that both of the Eclat’s engines were versions of the same series that powered the Esprit.

Like most other classic Lotus models, the Eclat didn’t exactly have the finest reliability record and was also quite expensive at the time. In 1979, for example, the Eclat would cost you nearly the same as a Mercedes-Benz 450 SL, about $30,000. Unlike most other coupes at the time, the Eclat’s fastback body style provided owners some greater flexibility in terms of cargo space but on the whole, no one should expect much in the way of practicability in any Lotus. It wasn’t a big shock when production ended in 1982, as despite its eight-year lifespan only around 1,500 Eclats were built, making it quite rare today.

It was replaced that same year with the Excel, which stayed on the market until 1992. Interestingly, both the Eclat and the Excel were based on the Elite Types 75 and 83, the first Lotus with a hatchback design. This 1977 Lotus Eclat up for sale on eBay has had just two previous owners and comes with just 35,000 miles on the clock. Supposedly 90 percent of its paint is original and the exterior and interior are in good shape. Its buy it now price is $9,900, which, for a rare Lotus built during the Colin Chapman era, is not bad for a car that would make a great addition to anyone’s collection.

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