A roofless, doorless, limited-production Lotus Elise

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When you’re a company like Lotus, you can build things that are a little out of the ordinary from time to time. Take, for example, the Lotus 340R. It’s a special-edition model derived from the Lotus Elise. It shares the same underpinnings, but features a custom-built body shell with no roof or doors to speak of – that’s right, the only way to get into this bad boy is to jump over the edge. There’s more to it than its unique body style, though. Only 340 examples were built, all of which sold out prior to the car’s official debut, and it comes equipped with exclusive tires made by Yokohama.

The 340R is a mid-engined roadster, and all 340 examples were built with the same silver and black two-tone finish. It was built at the brand’s Hethel factory and was never slated for the U.S. market, so it’s not exactly road legal here in the states. It is, however, road-legal in the U.K. – the market it was originally built for. That said, there are a few that may have crossed the big drink to the U.S., but there is only one that is claimed to be road-legal in the states, and that is the one pictured here.

The car you see in our photo gallery was listed for sale on Ebay back in 2014, and, as of this writing, it’s now being sold by a local dealer in Hollywood, Florida, with just over 3,500 miles. So, let’s take a few minutes to go over this special-edition model and see what it brings to the table.

Continue reading to see what made the Lotus 340R so special.

What Makes the Lotus 340R So Special

2000 Lotus 340R
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The Lotus 340R obviously shares the same underpinnings as the standard Lotus Elise from 2000, but the body itself is a custom-built shell that wasn’t available on any other Lotus. Be that as it may, the 340R still features some similarities to the standard Elise, while having a look all its own. First off, you’ll notice that the nose of the 340R comes to a much sharper point, with the front fenders being nothing more than some curved plates over the front wheels. There’s also a large lip on the nose that creates a front spoiler. This lip folds upwards and towards the center of the nose at the ends, creating a couple of air inlets that help create more downforce on the front end while channeling air to the front brakes. You’ll notice that there’s a set of vents just in front of the windshield, however the center portion is much wider in comparison to the Lotus Elise.

2000 Lotus 340R
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The 340R also has stretched-out, vertically positioned, eyelid-looking headlight units. Interestingly enough, the grille up front is identical in shape and size to that of the standard Elise, and even features the circular driving lights. To the sides, the 340R is much more dramatic than the model it’s based on, but still features the same air inlets ahead of the rear wheels. Without doors or a top, the only way to enter the passenger cabin is to jump over the side. The rear of the car is much more intriguing, with almost no body panels. The same dual light units adorn the upper corners, and those are attached to the fender plates that cover the rear wheels. A wide muffler sits below a large upswept spoiler with an exhaust exit on each end. Like I said before, it’s a custom body shell that’s much wilder than the Elise.

2000 Lotus 340R
- image 676685

Powering this funky little U.K.-based roadster is a modified version of the Rover K-Series 1.8-liter four-cylinder, which delivers 178 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. The power was sent to the rear wheels via a Rover five-speed PG1 close ratio transmission. That power might not sound like much compared to our current thirst for horsepower, but with a curb weight of just 1,488 pounds, it’s enough to hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds, and 100 mph in 12.5 seconds. A quarter mile sprint takes just 13.7 seconds with a speed of 105 mph. After the quarter mile, the 340R tops out at 132 mph.

2000 Lotus 340R
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All told, just 340 examples were built, and only one of them (pictured here) is supposedly road-legal in the U.S. In the U.K., the car is considered legal for road use, but most of the surviving models are dedicated to racing, track use, or demonstrations, so it isn’t exactly common to see one on the road. Be that as it may, those that are still in one piece are great on the track and are a blast to drive.

Lotus Elise

2011 Lotus Elise High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Lotus Elise has been around since 1996, but has remained largely unchanged since its initial debut. So far, there have been three different series built, with Series One lasting until 2000, at which point Lotus had to rework the Elise in order to comply with new European crash regulations. Series Three came to be in 2010, basically as a facelift for the Elise. It featured new single-unit headlights that were more triangular in shape, and better emissions output. The 2011 model year was the last year the Elise was available in the U.S. due to the expiration of a waiver that suppressed the need for Lotus to use smart airbags. That model was also the only Elise to use the 2ZZ-GE Toyota engine. As of this writing, the Lotus Elise is available in a number of forms, including the Elise Sport, Elise Sport 220, Elise Cup 250, and Elise Cup R, the latter of which is reserved for track-only use. The basic Elise Sport retails for £29,900, the Sport 220 goes for £36,500, the Cup 250 for £48,600, and the track-only Cup R goes for £49,950. At current exchange rates (06/20/2016), that computes to a range of $43,405 to $72,293.

Read our full review on the Lotus Elise here.

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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