Living with the 340R- Part one - "Leadtime"

by Peter Crook

February 2000 - " So here it is : The quickest production Lotus ever built, one of the best handling and aggressive accelerating Lotus ever built, Visually it is one of the most radical production cars available and has striking road presence"

These were my thoughts as I posted a message to the alt.cars.lotus newsgroup letting them have my initial impressions of a car which for the previous eight months had seemed like a bit of a strange dream........

As a Lotus Elise owner I had leafed through a copy of Auto Express at a motorway services to kill time in August 1999. 'Lotus 340R First Official Pictures' was the headline, and when I turned the page I was presented with pictures of a car so mean and radical looking that I knew that I wanted one. Reading the details of the car (which included a proposed 340bhp/tonne power to weight ratio and a limited run of 340 cars) made me realise that I had to have one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A swift call to a Lotus dealer and a 3,500 deposit cheque (ouch!) sealed my fate. I was now in a state called ' waiting for the 340R' and wondering what exactly I had let myself in for.

Over the next few months every motoring magazine in the world featured the car, each one revealing more information about the car which I was keen to assimilate. A strange situation as I had ordered a car which the dealers were only able to provide the bare minimum of information about. The thing that made me nervous was that nobody had driven the finished car yet, although my experience of the Elise had taught me that Lotus were able to build a car which gave a driving experience of the highest order. Surely they couldn't get it wrong with the 340R ?

Production was scheduled for November, then re scheduled for December, then changed to February. Waiting, waiting and more waiting and still nobody had driven the finished car! All I had to go on were pictures and a hope that Lotus would carry it off.

Finally a call from my dealer tipping me off that one of the first production cars was being delivered to the showrooms the next day. 

I was there at the door the next morning clamoring to be let in. What I saw in the showroom was something which no amount of pictures could have prepared me for - the car in the flesh.

In real life the scale of the car is much smaller than on the pictures, it really looks like a miniature race car and its so low.

As you move around the car you see so many different shapes and angles that its hard to take in. There are not many cars which you can stand and look at for almost two hours without getting bored but with a 340R you can - there is so much to see from the difficult to define beach buggy type rear with lots of messy details to the shark like front end with its fin like front spoilers, and the radical interior details.

That day I took pictures of every detail and looked at the car for ages, but its only now almost one year later having lived with the car for 10 months, that I am able to recall the details of how its constructed and its various features and facets. They really are visually complex.

As I left the dealership that day of one thing I was certain - it looked magnificent.

I couldn't wait for the next stage - getting my hands on one and driving it.......    (to be continued)

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