► Lotus Elise 1996-2022: the end of an era
► Namesake Elisa Artioli takes the last one
► CAR interviews the inspiration for Elise
Lower the flags to half mast and prepare for a period of mourning: the Lotus Elise has reached the end of the line – and the last customer car has gone to the lady who inspired the name of the evergreen sports car from Norfolk.
Elisa Artioli, the grand-daughter of former Lotus grandee Roman Artioli, dropped into Hethel yesterday to pick up a special delivery: she has purchased the final Lotus Elise bound for customers, a 240 in Championship Gold with smoked anthracite alloys.
It’s a fitting final chapter in the story of the Lotus Elise, named as CAR’s second most brilliant driver’s car in the magazine’s history in its 700th issue last year.
The inspiration for the Lotus Elise name
Elisa was credited with inspiring the Elise name, which followed a long line of Lotus models beginning with the letter E, from Esprit to Elan. Her grandpa Roman (below, alongside a young Elisa) was in charge of Lotus, as chairman from 1993 to 1996 and then as special projects director until 1998, and he named the groundbreaking aluminium roadster after his youngest pride and joy.
‘When the Elise was first presented at the Frankfurt motor show, I was only two-and-a-half years old – and I was so proud,’ Elisa told CAR magazine. ‘They trained me to do the presentation at the show so well that I went back to kindergarten afterwards and told everyone my name was Elise Lotus! Growing up I always had this connection to the car. It’s very special to me throughout my life.’
Luckily for her, Roman bought his proud granddaughter a silver S1 in 1997, when she was just four four years old. And now she’s been able to add a final-edition car to join her lightweight garage back at home in Italy.
Elisa Artioli on her final Elise
‘I heard a rumour back in 2019 from a dealer that production would end and I was very sad,’ she said. ‘I asked back then if I could have the final car. I’m lucky I got in so early, as lots of people asked once the end was confirmed officially. Mine is the last customer car. The very last one goes into the Lotus museum.’
Artioli, 28, told CAR that she’d always loved gold on Lotuses, not least because of the fabled John Player Special liveries. ‘I think it’ll go really well alongside my silver S1.’
We agree, Elisa. Enjoy your purchase. We can’t think of a better home for this lightweight hero…
Life after Elise: the new Lotus Emira