Lotus introduced the Type 75 Elite in 1974. Being a full four-seater coupe with an opening glass tailgate, it was designed to carry a family in comfort while retaining Lotus' trademark, excellent road holding and handling. Perhaps most importantly, it was the first - and successful - step in Colin Chapman's plan to move upmarket and away from Lotus' kit car image.
The Elite gave rise to two derivatives, the Eclat and the Excel. The Eclat was a restyled coupe version, sacrificing the Elite's unique rear styling and good rear passenger headroom for a more stylish exterior. With its conventional coupe styling, the Eclat was more mainstream than the Elite, and it was in the end the better seller. In turn, the Eclat spawned the Excel, the last of the Elite-inspired family.
Matthew Vale has been writing books on classic British motorcycles and cars since 2004. Now retired from his work as a Chartered IT Professional specializing in computer security, he is devoting his free time to classic car and bike restoration, writing classic motoring books and articles, and spending time with his wife and family. In the past he has run such diverse classic cars as a Triumph Spitfire Mark III, MGB, Triumph Stag, and a Lotus Elite. He also restores and rides classic bikes, including the Triumph Bonneville, Norton Commando and BSA Lightning. With a lifelong fascination for glass-fibre-bodied cars (stemming from early holiday jobs at various glass-fibre factories, and ownership of many rusty cars), he is currently carrying out a nut and bolt (and glass fibre) restoration of two Lotus Elan Plus 2s.