Of course we've known this day was coming for a while now, what with the Emira getting closer and the Final Edition cars on sale. But now Lotus has made it official: December 22nd, 2021, is the day production of the Lotus Elise, Evora and Exige was finally wound up. The last examples of a sports car trio that represent almost half of all the Lotuses ever made have been built. Quite a big day, then.
To mark the occasion, Lotus has gathered the last cars with some notable folk involved in the development of them for a fond farewell. Matt Windle, Lotus MD, said: "First of all, I would like to thank the Lotus team who have worked on the Elise, Exige and Evora over the years and who are now transferring to Emira and Evija manufacturing. I would also like to convey enormous gratitude to all the customers of the Elise, Exige and Evora over the last 26 years for their passion, enthusiasm, and support. These customers have given our 'three Es' true cult status - usually reserved for long-out-of-production classics."
Since production began on the Elise in 1996, there have been 51,738 Lotuses built on the line. That number grows to 56,618 from the Lotus small car platform if Europa, 340R, 2-Eleven and 3-Eleven are included. Don't forget the non-Lotuses built at Lotus, too - there were 7,200 VX220s built at Hethel, plus 2,515 Tesla Roadsters.
The cars seen here are the final ones of each model line, to be retained for Lotus's heritage collection. They are a Racing Green Exige Cup 430, the last of 10,497, the 6,117th and final Evora (a Dark Metallic Grey GT430 Sport) and the very last Elise of 35,124 built, a yellow Sport 240 Final Edition.
Gavan Kershaw, Director of Vehicle Attributes, reflected: "The Elise, particularly, has been a huge part of my life. It was conceived when I had just finished my apprenticeship and I was working in the vehicle workshops helping to build early prototypes. The Exige will always remain close to me, as the development programme was the first that I worked on as an engineer and I also won the British GT3 championship in a race version. The Evora is also hugely important as it showed that you can have high performance and award-winning handling without sacrificing the longer-journey GT ability. I have first-hand experience of this as I won the British GT4 championships in one and I will never forget leading the technical programme for our Evora Le Mans campaign where we achieved a podium."
Now, of course, it'll be all change. The old assembly lines will be dismantled ahead of the factory ramping up for Emira production in the spring. Lotus says the factory refit will move production "into an exciting, high-tech and semi-automated era, and increasing capacity up to 5,000 units per year on a single shift pattern." That's to follow very soon in 2022, but for now Lotus is reflecting on a trio of cars that have come to define the brand for decades, including 25 ways the Elise made its mark since the mid-1990s. As well they might - it's quite some legacy. Perfect for anyone trying to sell a Lotus Elise soon, but maybe not so good for those aiming to buy. You know what the end of an era often does for residual values...
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