This is a Lotus 340R, it’s the 60th of the 340 examples that were built in the year 2000 as a factory-modified version of the Elise that was even more minimalistic and track-focussed.

The 340R was powered by a VHPD “Very High Power Derivative” version of the four-cylinder 1.8 liter Rover K-Series engine with double overhead cams and four-valves per cylinder. It produced 177 bhp at 7,800 rpm 127 lb ft of torque at 6,750 rpm, which may not sound like much, but the car only weighed 701 kgs (1,545 lbs).

Fast Facts – The Lotus 340R

  • The Lotus 340R is a limited edition sports car that was unveiled in 2000. It’s based on the Lotus Elise’s chassis and mechanical components but takes the pared-down design philosophy to the extreme – it has no roof or doors and features a minimalist body with open-wheels front and back.
  • The 340 was based on the concept car first shown at the 1998 Birmingham Motor Show. It was based on the aluminum tub of the Elise and shared many of its components, but featured a new body that was designed to keep weight to an absolute minimum.
  • The car was powered by the VHPD “Very High Power Derivative” Rover K-Series engine, producing 177 bhp and 127 lb ft of torque. It weighed in at just 701 kgs (1,545 lbs), and it could do the 0 – 62 mph dash in 4.4 seconds.
  • Lotus announced that only 340 units of the 340R would be produced, a decision that ensured it would remain relatively rare, and contributed to the car’s desirability among enthusiasts and collectors. Each 340R came with a numbered plaque, showing its production number.
  • The styling of the 340R, completed by Russell Carr, Head of Design at Lotus, and his team. The 340R would have a major influence on many Lotus road car designs to come, perhaps non more so than the second-generation Lotus Elise released in 2002.

The Incredible Lotus 340R

In some respects, the Lotus 340R was a reinterpretation of the original Lotus Seven (now the Caterham 7) for the 21st century. Both cars are exceedingly minimalist with a strong focus on the lowest possible curb weight offering an excellent power-to-weight ratio, and just about the purest analogue driving experience one could find in a factory-built car.

Lotus 340R Car

Image DescriptionThe styling of the Lotus 340R was way ahead of its time, it started out as a concept car in 1998 and entered limited production in the year 2000. Many believe it still looks current today, almost a quarter of a century later.

Some have suggested that the 340R my have been inspiration for the Ariel Atom however this couldn’t possibly be the case, as the first Atom designs were drawn up in the early 1990s and the first Atom concept car debuted in 1996, two years before the 340R concept car was shown to the world for the first time at the 1998 Birmingham Motor Show.

Although it is completely road-legal and built in-line with EU type approval regulations (for the era in which it was built), the 340R was developed as more of a track car. It was fitted with adjustable platform suspension that allowed the owner to have the car corner weighted to their requirements.

The brakes consist of cross-drilled and vented discs front and back with 282 mm rotors and AP Racing opposed-piston calipers. Yokohama AO38R tires were factory-fitted to each corner with a road/race rubber compound and a distinctive tread pattern for the 340R.

The standard 340R was fitted with the VHPD (Very High Power Derivative) version of the four-cylinder 1.8 liter Rover K-Series engine. This was a popular production car engine in the UK at the time, it was also used (in a lower state of tune) in the Rover Metro, MG ZR, Reliant Scimitar Sabre, Caterham 7, and a number of other production Rover sedans from the period.

The Rover K-series has an alloy block and head, it was offered in both single overhead cam eight-valve and double overhead cam 16-valve versions, with Lotus opting to use the 16-valve version in their cars, typically in a higher state of tune.

The VHPD version used in the Lotus 340R was good for 177 bhp at 7,800 rpm 127 lb ft of torque at 6,750 rpm. For track use the catalytic converter and other engine restrictors can be removed, this increases horsepower up to 195 bhp – an impressive figure given the curb weight of just 701 kgs (1,545 lbs).

Lotus 340R Car 12

Image DescriptionAnyone familiar with the Elise will recognize the interior of the 340R, it’s very similar to its sibling vehicle but slightly more pared back.

An additional “Track Pack” was available for the car, offering a race-specification quick-release steering wheel, five point harness adapter kit, and a Stack race rev-counter with shift timing lights and lap timing ability.

When Lotus announced in the late 1990s that the 340R was going into a limited-edition production run of 340 units, they needn’t have been concerned with whether they could sell them all or not. They entire run sold out before the first unit left the production line and today they remain arguably the most collectible Lotus road car from the time.

The styling of the 340R had been done by Russell Carr (Head of Design at Lotus) and his small team, it’s clear that the car would have a significant influence on future Lotus car design, specifically the second-generation Elise which debuted in 2002, two years after the 340R had been produced.

Today the surviving examples of the Lotus 340R are much sought after by collectors and Lotus enthusiasts, they only come up for sale relatively rarely though, perhaps an indication that owners are reticent to part with them.

Despite the design of the model still looking current, the 340R is rapidly approaching classic status as it nears its 25th birthday – the age at which many jurisdictions will allow a vehicle to be registered as classic or vintage.

The Lotus 340R Shown Here

The car you see in this article is the 60th of the 340 examples of the Lotus 340R that were built. It’s now being offered for sale with 14,613 kms on the odometer and unusually for the typically Silver-colored 340R, this one has been repainted in British Racing Green with gloss-Black door mirror covers and lower side panels, a gloss black front splitter, front and rear wheel arches, windscreen trim, rear diffuser, and rear wing.

Lotus 340R Car 9

Image DescriptionThe extremely minimalist look of the 340R isn’t just for looks, the car weighs in at only 701 kgs (1,545 lbs).

This vehicle was delivered new to an owner in the UK and it remained there for many years, more recently it was exported to Hong Kong where it is now road registered.

It’s being offered for sale out of Hong Kong, it had a rebuild of its Rover K-series unit less than 1,000 kms ago, and it comes with a selection of service records and a spare wheel. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Collecting Cars.

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Images courtesy of Collecting Cars

Published by Ben Branch -