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Frankfurt Motorshow 1999 - Lotus Elise 340RThe production version of the outrageous and stunningly fast Lotus Elise 340R imakes its Motorshow debut at the 1999 I.A.A. Customer deliveries start in December 1999, a mere nine months after Lotus management gave the project the green light, making the 340Rs development cycle one of the quickest in the world. Ever. Just 340 examples will be built.
The Elise-based 340R was first shown as a concept car at the 1998 Birmingham International Motor Show at the NEC. This concept put a new spin on the multi-award winning Elise, taking it down an even more extreme path, making it the purest Lotus ever: a no-compromise super-lightweight sports car. It had no doors; no side windows, no roof, and only minimal composite bodywork covering its extruded aluminium chassis. With a powerful version of the Elises 1.8-litre K Series engine, the 340R concept is aimed at hardcore drivers who wanted a small, responsive, fun machine with supercar performance (0-60mph in 4.3 sec, 0-100mph in 10.9 sec) for weekend blasts in the countryside or track day outings.
The production 340RSame spirit, different details
The press and public response to the concept was overwhelmingly positive a niche truly existed for this purist drivers car. The 340R was approved by Lotus management to become a showroom model. A few short months later, the concept is now a reality.
Modifying a concept car to pass the rigours of the European type approval process (a necessity for all series production cars) often results in a dilution of the original concept. Not so with the 340R. The production version remains true to the concept car it offers raw, untainted fun and exhilaration, not to mention that 177bhp engine. Its a pure drivers car, plain and simple.
Some changes have been made to comply with the type approval regulations and as a consequence of development work on the 340R.
Rather than dilute the essence of the car, these changes have made it look even wilder.
340R the Extreme Elise
The philosophy behind the 340R is explained by Lotus Design Manager, Russell Carr: We decided to develop a road-going racing car which would be even more essential than the Elise, solely directioned and focused for pure driving pleasure. We wanted a car that would embody the Lotus characteristics of innovation, light weight, elegance and fun to drive the 340R is all of these.
What has made the 340Rs striking looks and minimalist bodywork possible, is its light and exceptionally stiff chassis. Made from extruded and bonded aluminium, and pioneered on the Elise, the chassis is the central feature of the 340R concept and is the load-bearing structure of the car.
This means that unlike conventional cars, the body panels arent an essential part of the 340Rs structural integrity, and can therefore be used only where driver comfort and protection, and aerodynamic considerations make them essential. Motorbikes and single-seater racing cars, two of the inspirations for the 340R, are designed the same way.
The 340R has a dynamic, feline stance on the road or track, in keeping with the Lotus philosophy of combining elegance of style and design with basic scientific principles, and it shows, in dramatic fashion, the inherent flexibility of the Elise chassis.
Made for the road, so you can
drive to the track
Its no coincidence that the Lotus Elise 340R looks so much like a race car dressed up for the road; that was always the intention of Russell Carr, Head of Design at Lotus, and his team. Many Elise owners use their cars for track days and the Lotus Elise 340R is designed to be the ultimate track-day machine.
The Lotus Elise 340R uses adjustable platform suspension so that corner weights can be tuned to the individual drivers requirements.
With track work very much in mind, the 340R is provided with some very serious brakes. At the front and rear, cross- drilled and vented discs are 282 mm in diameter, and are gripped by AP Racing opposed piston callipers.
Again, as befits its racing aspirations, the 340R is fitted with super-sticky road/race
rubber compound Yokohama AO38R Tyres, with a highly distinctive tread pattern.
For track use its possible to remove the engines sound-insulated casing and (depending on the tracks noise regulations) take off the exhausts catalytic converter. In standard road tune the 340Rs 1.8-litre K series produces 177bhp, but with the catalyst and other engine restrictors removed, that output rockets to 190bhp.
Race-spec quick-release steering wheel and five point harness adapter kit are available as part of a track pack for the 340R, as is a Stack race rev-counter with shift lamps and lap timing facilities.
Production of the £35,000 (on the road) 340R begins at Lotus Cars Hethel factory in November, and first customer deliveries will take place in December.
Lotus 340R Technical Specifications
Engine: 4 cylinder in Line, 1.8l mid mounted watercooled engine with Lotus developed engine management system.
Double overhead camshafts with mechanical tappets
Electronic multi-point injection
Performance: Maximum power: 177bhp @ 7800 RPM
(estimated) Torque: 171Nm @ 5000 RPM
Maximum Speed: 130 mph
0-60 mph 4.3s
0-100 km/h 4.4s
0-160 km/h 10.7s
Transmission: 5 speed transaxle driving rear wheels
Close ratio gearbox
Ratios: First 2.923
Final drive 4.200
Body: Composite body panels with detachable Clamshell with 2 removable entry panels for battery and brake fluid and removable engine cover.
Chassis: Lotus-designed spaceframe structure of epoxy-bonded sections of aluminium extrusions incorporating Safety Devices speedster bar.
Suspension: Independent upper and lower wishbones
Co- axial Eibach springs and adjustable
Platform KONI dampers.
Steering: Titan motorsport rack & pinion, non power assisted.
Wheels: Technomagnesio magnesium 10-spoke design specially developed for Lotus with Lotus Centre Lock System.
Front: 6J x 15.
Rear: 8J x16
Tyres: Unique YOKOHAMA tyres, tested and developed with Lotus.
A038 Front: 195/50
ZR15 Rear: 225/45 ZR16
Brakes: 282mm diameter cast iron ventilated cross-drilled discs. Non-servo split hydraulic system. AP Racing opposed piston calipers on the front wheels.
Exhaust: Lotus styled, Janspeed developed exhaust with ceramic coated tubular manifold, rear silencer with needlemat/carbon cover.
Windscreen: Quick demist heated front screen
Lighting: High performance lamps, pre focus Wipac dip modular lamp assemblies main beams in lower spoiler.
Instrumentation: Motorsport technology Stack digital instrumentation including speedo with LCD message display and tacho. (Tacho is interchangeable with optional race tacho)
Unladen Dry weight: Road <600kg
Dimensions: Wheelbase 2300 mm
Front track 1448 mm
Rear track 1470 mm
Fuel: Fuel tank capacity 40l/8.8 gal
Fuel grade 95 RON minimum
Standard Equipment: 4 Point Competition Harness, competition style seats,immobiliser, Stack race dial instrumentation, battery trickle charge socket.
Cat replacement, 190bhp exchange ECM , titanium exhaust exit pipes, inlet camshaft pulley, 5-point harness kit, Pagid brake pads, racing brake hoses, racing brake fluid, Stack race tacho incorporating timer and multiple stage shift lamps, race battery.
RAC Race Petty bar, Fire extinguisher, Oil cooler Kit, Close ratio straight cut gear set, racing damper kit, battery trickle charger, lightweight race battery, 5-point harness kit, Stack race data tacho, removable quick release steering wheel, Lotus centre-lock system socket, Lotus centre-lock torque wrench.
For further information:
See our website: www.lotuscars.co.uk
Lotus Cars Ltd.
Norfolk NR14 8EZ
Tel: +44 (0) 1953 608000
Fax: +44 (0) 1953 608111
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Copyright © Rob Collingridge 2009 - Last updated 08 Oct 1999