3 Eleven 430 is the last of its kind -- a car that seems to mark the transition between the Lotuses of the recent past and the new, more civil and posh Lotuses of the future -- and damn it, we're sad to see it go.
The modern Elise and Exige were almost universally praised for their handling and engaging driving experience (by people short enough to fit in them, not that I'm salty about that or anything) but it was the 3 Eleven that genuinely blew people's minds when it debuted. Now, the 3 Eleven is on its way out, and Lotus is giving it the automotive equivalent of a Viking funeral with the new 3 Eleven 430.
Looking back at the history of Lotus, it's hard to consider it anything but a miracle that the company survived at all. As a company, it was renowned for crippling unreliability, shocking build quality and Colin Chapman's less-than-legal dalliances with John DeLorean. (Having actual filmed proof that Richard Gere drove one didn't help either.) The thing is, despite all that and often in spite of itself, Lotus has managed to give the world some truly transcendent cars, of which the 3 Eleven (despite its awful name) is one.
The 3 Eleven 430 differs from the standard 3 Eleven Road model in several meaningful ways. First, it gets a heaping helping of additional horsepower, bumping output by 20 hp to an ample 430. That, combined with a weight of just 2,028 pounds means it has a power-to-weight ratio of 467 horsepower per metric ton. The chassis is still mostly an Exige that had its roof lopped off, but now it benefits from carbon-fiber bodywork and a great big wing out back. All of this means the 3 Eleven 430 will do 0 to 60 miles per hour in a claimed 3.1 seconds, and it has a top speed of 180 mph.
If you're like us, all this performance has your dander up, and you're whipping your checkbook out as you read this. Unfortunately for you, anonymous wealthy internet person, Lotus is only making 20 examples of the 3 Eleven 430. Plus, with an out-the-door price of just £102,000 including taxes and on-the-road costs (roughly $140,000), they're going to sell out fast. They're not going to be sold to us 'Mericans, either, because the folks in Hethel -- and this is just a guess -- are still irked by that whole revolution thing.
Even though we aren't going to get our hot little hands on this roofless beauty, we can still tack a picture of it on our bedroom wall and pine for the way things were when Lotus inevitably launches a crossover SUV.