Lotus 3-Eleven 430: Here We Go Again

It’s <BANG HEAD!> another <BANG HEAD!> new <BANG HEAD!> special <BANG HEAD!> edition <BANG HEAD!> Lotus! Guys, guys, guys! Look: I love ya. I love your cars, I love the way they look, I love the way they handle, but . . . this special edition stuff has Got. To. Stop.

You know the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf? Lotus is getting dangerously close to that. In the past year (it seems like the past three weeks), Lotus has released (seemingly) 1,437 special edition cars. And yeah, they are great cars. And yeah, in point of fact, they are special. But if everything is special, then nothing is special, y’know?

However, the 3-Eleven 430 is special. They are only going to make 20 of the little brutes (which is a pity) and, although it is road legal, it is not road legal here in the U. S. of A. (which is criminal!).

Lightning Strikes

For starters, the new Lotus 3-Eleven 430 is the quickest street-legal sports car Lotus has ever made. Think about what else Lotus has made, and you’ll get the point. The 3-Eleven 430 laps the company’s Hethel test track 0.8 seconds quicker than an Exige Cup 430, and two seconds quicker than the previous 3-Eleven. The current benchmark is 1 minute 24 seconds, thanks to the new Lotus 3-Eleven 430. The supercharged and charge-cooled 3.5-liter V6 engine cranks out 430 horsepower and 325 lb-ft. of torque.

In addition to performing like a lightening strike, the bodywork now features new, part-visible weave carbon-composite panels. This helps the 3-Eleven tip the scales at 2,028 lbs., giving you a power-to-weight ratio of a mighty 467 horsepower per tonne. There is also a Torsen-type limited slip differential and an open-gate six-speed manual gearbox in the mix as well.

LED daytime running lights and a lip spoiler characterize the front of the Lotus 3-Eleven 430. Photo: Group Lotus plc.

Chassis & Aerodynamics

Please, this is a Lotus. Öhlins DFV one-way adjustable dampers live at each corner and Eibach adjustable anti-roll bars inhabit the front and rear. There’s 6-position variable traction control, networked directly to the ECU, with five pre-set traction levels: 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 percent slip and “off.” G’head Mario, turn it “off” and see how y’do!

Lotus, being one of the leading innovators in race car aerodynamics, also tweaked the new 3-Eleven in that department as well. Now there is a higher mounted straight-cut rear wing with re-profiled end plates, a long front splitter and lip spoiler, and a flat floor with a rear diffuser that increases down force by 97 lbs. to a total of 585 lbs. at max speed.

Tires & Braking

Tires are Michelin Cup 2 deals with 225/40 ZR18 at the front and 275/35 ZR19 out back. The mechanical grip combined with the aero downforce ads up to a gray-out inducing 1.5 g while cornering. Yes, stopping is good. In the case of the Lotus 3-Eleven, that’s the responsibility of AP Racing four-piston calipers, front and rear, and two-piece J-Hook brake discs that are 332 mm front and rear (seemingly about the size of a pizza). Each corner is finished by Lotus-designed, ultra-lightweight forged aluminum wheels that come in either gloss or satin black.

Pricing & Availability

You want? Of course you want. You must want! You also must contact Lotus now, since they’re only make 20. The 3-Eleven 430 is priced at £102,000, or $140,00 at today’s exchange rates. Yes, that’s a lot, but I could see spending it. The only real problem here is hanging a license plate on the darn things, cause that’s what I really want to do.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Group Lotus plc.

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