As was so often the way with Bahar-era Lotus, the story of the Evora GTE was a curious and slightly baffling one. The plan was simple and sensible enough: a track-inspired road version of the GTE racer, a car to take on the GT3s and AMGs of the world, to really show off the potential latent in the Evora platform. It should have been great...
Having initially been marketed for China, Lotus finally relented and produced 20 of the lighter, wider, faster Evoras for Europe. Trouble being for those keen on the GTE in the UK that the majority were then left-hand drive and automatic. And, well, it only got worse from there. The cars were made but the project then abandoned as Bahar departed, leaving many unregistered around Hethel. That was until 2014, when they were finally made fit for the road and sold on.
It gets weirder still, though, as proven by the five Evora Stratton GTs. The story goes that, in a classic Lotus mishap, more parts were ordered than required for the 20 cars. So, the dealer closest to Hethel, Stratton Motor Company, took on the extra parts to make these GT cars. The GTE lived again!
To many in the UK, these Stratton machines are surely the ideal GTE spec. When the cars were sold from the factory, they came with the detuned 350hp version of the V6; the Strattons all come with the 440hp upgrade. Lots of those European cars were left-hand drive and automatic; while these are still LHD, they do get the manual gearbox. And, well, they're cheaper; all of them now being sold at £84,000 rather than the £100k+ or so they once retailed at.
Think of how good this might be. All the praise that's been heaped on various 410 and 430 Evoras, now in a car with a lower centre of gravity, wider rear track, 100 kilos less weight and even more power. The Evora might now be a 10-year-old design, but there remains little to match it for tactility, balance and engagement - if this can combine all that with some genuine race car ability, then it'll be spectacular.
Stratton still has four of the cars for sale, this one featuring for no reason other than we liked the colour. This is number three, all of them on delivery mileage and ready to go. It'll come as little surprise that a host of factory go-faster versions are available at the same sort of money, this Olive Green GT430 being the perfect example of what's also on offer.
Even those cars, however, might seem a little common compared to the Stratton GT Evoras. With the backstory, the incredible looks and the promise of an Evora let off the leash dynamically, it's easy to imagine four committed Hethelheads taking the plunge. The ad's assertion that the GTs already have "a place in British motoring history" might be a bit strong, but there's an awful lot to like here; using parts that would otherwise have gone to waste, reviving the GTE in perhaps its most desirable form, and adding a postscript to that fascinating Bahar era. That a buyer is likely to get an incredible sports car as well almost seems by the by. And if there's a PHer with Stratton GT #1 out there, we'd love to hear about it...
SPECIFICATION - LOTUS EVORA STRATTON GT
Engine: 3,456cc supercharged V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 444@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@4,500rpm (standard Evora S)
MPG: 28.7 (NEDC combined for standard Evora S)
CO2: 229g/km (guess what for)
First registered: 2017
Recorded mileage: 100
Price new: Bahar said about £120k?
Yours for: £84,000