Lotus Excel

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Lotus Excel
Lotus Excel 1985.jpg
Manufacturer Lotus Cars
Production 1982–1992
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-door coupe
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Related Lotus Eclat
Engine 2.2 L Lotus 912 I4
Transmission 5-speed Toyota W58 manual
4-speed ZF automatic
Wheelbase 2,483 mm (97.8 in)
Length 4,398 mm (173.1 in)
Width 1,816 mm (71.5 in)
Height 1,207 mm (47.5 in)
Curb weight 1,168 kg (2,575 lb)
Predecessor Lotus Eclat

The Type 89 Lotus Excel is a front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car designed and built by Lotus from 1982 to 1992. It is based on the design of the earlier Lotus Eclat, which itself was based on the earlier Lotus Type 75 Elite.


Toyota engaged Lotus to assist with engineering work on the Supra. During this period, Toyota became a major shareholder in Lotus, later giving up their holding when General Motors bought Lotus.

Part of the deal between Lotus and Toyota included the use of many Toyota mechanical components in Lotus' cars. The original Excel (aka the Eclat Excel) used the W58 manual transmission, driveshafts, rear differential, 14x7 in alloy wheels, and door handles from the Supra Mk II, which was made from 1982 to 1986. The engine was the familiar all-aluminium, DOHC 2.2 L Lotus 912 slant-4 engine used in the Lotus Esprit S3.


Launched in October 1982, the Excel received two major upgrades during its 10-year production run. With the introduction of the Excel SE (a 180 bhp (134 kW; 182 PS) engine vs the standard 160 bhp (119 kW; 162 PS) engined car) in October 1985, the bumpers, wing and interior were changed, including a new dashboard. In October 1986 the Excel SA with automatic gearbox was introduced.[1] Further facelifts in 1989 saw Citroën-derived mirrors, as featured on the Esprit, and 15 inch OZ alloy wheels to a similar pattern as the Esprit's.

The Excel is also known for its good cornering and excellent handling thanks to 50:50 weight distribution.

According to Lotus records, only 1 Excel was manufactured to USA specification.[citation needed] The decision not to release the model in the USA was due to that country's stringent emission regulations (which would hinder the car's performance), and poor sales of the car in Europe.

By 1991, Lotus was planning to replace the Excel with a coupe version of the Elan roadster, but these plans were shelved as a result of falling sales which saw the whole Elan project cancelled and no direct replacement for the Excel when it was discontinued in 1992.

415 are still registered in the United Kingdom as of 2011, but 240 of them are SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification).[2] James May purchased one on the television show Top Gear in the fourth episode of season 15. Top Gear also used a Lotus Excel in the James Bond 50th Anniversary Special and converted it into a submarine. This was done to prove the Lotus Esprit used in The Spy Who Loved Me wasn't science fiction.

Model Year changes[edit]


  • Body-coloured bumpers
  • Louvered bonnet
  • Boot spoiler
  • 8-spoke road wheels option


  • Flared (but no wider) wheel arch profile
  • front fog lamps
  • Larger boot opening
  • 15" road wheels option
  • VDO instrument cluster


Rear view of 1986 Lotus Excel S.E. (Sweden)
  • ‘S.E.’ option
  • ‘H.C.’ engine
  • Revised fascia and switchgears
  • Adjustable steering column
  • Upgraded air conditioning system



  • Cross-drilled crank
  • Engine mounting legs
  • Bell housing
  • Rear body mounts
  • Boot floor brace
  • Revised fuel system
  • Revised body shell undertray


  • Restyled bonnet
  • Front and rear spoilers
  • Updated road wheels and interior trim
  • Air intake temperature control system

Hethel 25th Anniversary Celebration edition[edit]

  • Total production of 40
  • 35 in Celebration Green Metallic
  • 5 in Calypso Red
  • Clarion CDC 9300 head unit
  • Remote control stacking CD player
  • Upgraded speakers
  • Red instrument lighting
  • Air conditioning
  • Full tan leather interior with perforated leather panels.
  • Classic tan leather steering wheel
  • 100% wool wilton carpeted
  • Performance: 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Top Speed: 135 mph
  • Price when new in 1991: £28,995
  • In today's money ( August 2014) £57,511.
  • NB: Sections of the above information has been sourced using information taken from the official Lotus "Hethel Celebration Excel" sales brochure and from the www.lotusexcel.net website.

Models produced[edit]

1985 Lotus Excel
  • Excel 1982–1992
  • Excel SE 1985–1992
  • Excel SA 1986–1992


  1. ^ Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (5 March 1987). Automobil Revue 1987 (in German and French). 82. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 357. ISBN 3-444-00458-3. 
  2. ^ Olly Smith. "LOTUS ECLAT EXCEL - How Many Left?". Howmanyleft.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-09-30. 

External links[edit]