The Last Lotus Elise Went to the Woman Who Inspired Its Name
Elisa Artioli’s Lotus Elise Sport 240 Final Edition article highlights:
- Elisa Artioli is the namesake of the Lotus Elise
- She received an S1 Elise as a child—that she still owns and regularly drives—and just bought the last Elise Final Edition
- If you want your own US-market Lotus Elise, you’ll have to spend at least $40,000 right now
Big changes are on the horizon for Lotus. The British automaker is about to launch a bunch of electric models and its first SUV. But this transformation means it has to say goodbye to its modern lineup, including its iconic Elise. And for this final farewell, Lotus released a limited run of special Elise models, fittingly called the Final Editions. Now, the very last Elise is in the hands of a special person: its namesake, Elisa Artioli.
Elisa Artioli gave the Lotus Elise her name—and it gave her a passion
Surnames in the car world are common: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ford, Porsche, Honda, etc. But it’s rare for a person’s given name to wind up on a specific car. And when that happens, it’s usually to honor a founder or racer, a la the Ferrari Enzo and McLaren Senna. The Lotus Elise is different, though.
On a technical level, the original S1 Elise was a true automotive revelation. Not only was it incredibly light, but it achieved its low curb weight through groundbreaking bonded-and-extruded aluminum construction. And much like the Lotus Seven it drew inspiration from, it was a paragon of simplicity as well as lightness.
However, while Lotus engineers sweated over every gram on the original Elise, they were more laissez-faire with its name. Originally, the company planned to use its internal project designation—M111—as its official name. That’s when Bugatti necromancer and Lotus’s then-chairman Romano Artioli stepped in. Lotus repeatedly gave its cars ‘E’ names, and Artioli didn’t want to break that tradition. And he already had the perfect name: Elise, in honor of his granddaughter, Elisa Artioli.
Elisa didn’t just inspire the car’s name, though, Hagerty explains. She also helped introduce it. When Lotus unveiled the S1 Elise at the 1995 Frankfurt Auto Show, two-and-a-half-year-old Elisa was sitting inside as the covers came off. Her family even coached her to say, “’I am Elise!’” for the presentation, Hagerty says. And when she was four, her grandfather gifted her a silver S1 that she still owns and regularly drives.
Although Elisa Artioli studied architecture, her love for the Elise eventually led her to start a company, Delightful Driving, Road & Track reports. So, when she’s not carving corners in her S1, she’s organizing sports-car rallies in Europe. And now, she’s got a new country road companion: a Lotus Elise Sport 240 Final Edition.
She’s owned a Lotus Elise since childhood, and now has the final Elise Sport 240 Final Edition
|2021 Lotus Elise Sport 240 Final Edition|
|Engine||1.8-liter supercharged four-cylinder|
|Curb weight||2033 lbs (standard)|
1980 lbs (with all lightweight options)
|0-60 mph time||4.1 seconds|
Alongside three versions of the Exige, Lotus offered two flavors of Elise Final Edition: Sport 240 and Cup 250. The latter is the track-oriented model, while the former Elise is more street-friendly. And because Elisa lives in the Dolomite Mountains where “’the streets are not always perfect,’” she got the Sport 240, R&T says.
Elisa’s Lotus Elise Sport 240 isn’t just a Final Edition, though, but the final one. Or at least the last one that will be sold; Lotus is keeping the actual last one for itself, Hagerty notes. Nevertheless, much like her S1, Elisa Artioli isn’t planning on selling her Final Edition. And seeing as the outgoing Elise still has a Toyota engine, it should be more reliable than her Rover-powered S1.
Elisa hasn’t revealed if her new car has all the optional weight-saving measures such as the carbon-fiber body panels and lithium-ion battery. However, she has confirmed that her gold-and-black Final Edition—a tribute to the classic Lotus John Player Special livery—has A/C and Alcantara seats. She chose Alcantara so she wouldn’t slide as much as she does in her S1’s leather seats, Hagerty reports. And Italian summers are more enjoyable with A/C.
Here’s hoping that she enjoys her modern Lotus Elise just as much as her classic one.
How much does one of Elisa’s namesakes cost today?
If you want a Lotus Elise of your own now, know that the S1 models are now old enough to legally import. Alternatively, you could buy one of the Toyota-powered S2 models that Lotus sold in the US from 2005-2011. However, be prepared for some sticker shock if you go the latter route.
Although a used Elise was a $30,000 car for a long time, its death and Lotus’s EV push have driven prices up. Now, a well-kept Elise is a $40,000-$50,000 car; the supercharged SC models are $60,000 cars, Hagerty claims. And although these roadsters are wonderful behind the wheel, they’re not exactly practical.
But then, it’s not like Elisa Artioli owns two of them just because they’re named after her.
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