Noted to be #172 of the original 340 built, it recently popped up for sale in Florida, however it’s not cheap. The rarified Lotus 340R asks $65,000.
So what is a 340R? Born from the Lotus Elise family, the open-top 340R began as a concept car in 1998 and was showcased at the UK’s Birmingham Motor Show. Its popularity proved monumental, and enough blank checks were sent to Lotus for them to proceed with the project.
Like its first-generation Elise brethren, the Lotus 340R adopted a 1.8-liter Rover K-series four-cylinder, which in “Very High Performance Derivative” equated to 177 horsepower and 126 lb-ft. of torque. That may not sound like much, even by early 2000’s standards, but it allowed the sub-1,550 pound roadster the ability to dash to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and onto a top speed of 133 mph.
These were pure driving machines, a notion reinforced by the 340R’s body, or lack thereof. The mix of lightweight body panels draped over an extruded aluminum chassis gave the cars somewhat of an aquatic look, what with the slender lines, open wheels, and big wing, though they’re certainly unmistakable. The rear end with its exposed exhaust and mechanical bits is akin to automotive erotica as well.
While the interior accoutrements of the entire Lotus Elise and Exige family tend to be spartan to the max, the 340R really is limited to the bare essentials. Drivers receive two harnessed racing seats, a tachometer, a speedometer, a single vertical column for switchgear, and the business end of that Rover five-speed gearbox. Doors? Forget about it.
There is a rub however. Given that the Lotus wasn’t intended for the US market and its age hasn’t yet met the US government’s magical 25-year-rule, that means there’s a possibility this super-fast Lotus is not road-legal. Even so, it’s a rarity to see one stateside, and for that we can be thankful.