• Apr 28th 2007 at 6:06PM
  • 10
Click on the photo for a gallery of the Elise GT1

For an all too brief period in the mid-90s, racing fans were treated to the sight of the fastest road-going exotic cars in the world competeting against each other on the world's stage. It began in 1994 with the victory of the Dauer 962LM. The 962LM was an 80's era Group C Porsche 962 that had been modified for road use, and then brought back to Le Mans under the new GT rules. Following the success of the McLaren F1 taking 1st, 3rd,4th, and 5th overall at Le Mans in 1995 with an almost stock car, many other teams started preparing cars like the Ferrari F40, Jaguar XJ220 and Lotus Esprit for the BPR GT series, which was later subsumed by the FIA..

What began with production exotics being modified with the necessary safety equipment to race, quickly evolved into manufacturers seizing an opportunity. The rules required a minimum number of road legal examples to be built and then modified for racing. Companies like Porsche and Mercedes seized on this to design pure race cars which were then dialed back just enough so they could be licensed, which ultimately resulted inthe 911 GT1 and CLK-GTR.

Lotus created a GT1 version version of the Esprit, which had been racing with some success in lower classes like GT2 and the SCCA World Challenge in the US. The then twenty-year-old Esprit just couldn't cut in the big leagues, though, so the new turbocharged V-8 was moved to a new platform. The Lotus Elise was still new to the world when Lotus decided to stretch the body longer and wider and put the V-8 in the back for the 1997 FIA GT series. The Lotus V-8 was also inadequate for competition and the race cars instead used the LT5 V-8 that Lotus had designed earlier for the Corvette ZR-1. Unfortunately, the little racers from Hethel couldn't keep up with the Germans and a lack of resources prevented adequate development so the project was largely abandoned. One of the seven Elise GT1s that were built, however, is available on eBay right now and, at the time of writing, hasn't yet hit the reserve price.

Thanks to Mike for the tip!

[Source: eBay]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      To Matt.W.

      The car ran in P1 with an LT5 engine. Piece of junk that it was! When the thing needed changing, Chevrolet couldn't supply us with another engine with matching measurements... Each one was different and as such, would not mount/sit in the car correctly!
      • 8 Years Ago
      at one point in its life it was (technicaly)a road car...so it could concievably be licensed and driven on the street. Wow.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mercury Marine only manufactured the LT5 for GM. Lotus did the design and development work.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I thought the LT5 was designed and built by Mercury, of boat engine fame?
      • 8 Years Ago
      This has been on ebay for a while now. I think there is a lot more issues keeping this car from being lisenced for street use than it being wrong hand drive.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I remember this car from Sebring 2004. I've probably got pictures around here somewhere. I thought it was pretty ballsy of these guys just to go out there with an elise to do battle in the top prototype class (I can't remember if it was LMP900 or P1 back then, it wasn't LMP1) against Audi R8s.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I had the pleasure of being on the race team for this exact car in 2004... We ran for seven laps at Sebring before the gearbox gave way and then the team struggled against various legal issues... Gorgeous car, and for the record, I think it was 5th fastest through the speed trap that day!
      See our site: ww.teamelite.dds.nl, which we kept up ever since.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think this same car was for sale privately about a year ago, I remember seeing an ad for it pop up on Elisetalk. I often think as the S1 Exige as the coolest "Elise variant", aside from the 340R, but this really does take the cake. If my wife would let me sell our house to add a second Elise to the collection I'd consider bidding ;)

      Just have to stick with our standad federal Elise...

      • 8 Years Ago
      That's one hell of a collectors item...

      Damn you mega millions let me win you!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      the only thing keeping it from being licensable in most states is the fact that it's RHD, but I think the rollcage is enough to substantiate that the safety isn't compromised due to driving position (or whatever it is you have to do to get the RHD exemption)... if I had $250,000+ to spare, I'd be bidding...