1999 Lotus Elise Sport
The original Elise was so lightweight that the run-of-the-mill Rover engine, barely wheezing out 118 horsepower, was more than enough to allow the Lotus to embarrass much more powerful sportscars. Corners? Forget about it, the Elise makes go-karts look like land barges. So when Lotus snagged the (very British-sounding) Very High Performance Derivative version of the K-series engine from the Rover parts bin to create the limited production Sport, the resulting 192 horsepower output in the bantamweight chassis had the effect of turning the insanity up to 11. When you told a Lotus dealer that you wanted a Sport (or presented a regular-spec car for conversion), it set Lotus’ highly-skilled race technicians a-flutter, hand-modifying the Elise with competition-ready componentry like a roll bar, thin-shell race seats, and of course suspension and brake upgrades. The result is breathtaking; it’s a very small car that can do very big things, like dash to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. While that’s impressive, just like the Sport’s less burly Elise siblings, its forte is lateral acceleration. That means the twisties are its natural habitat, and you’ll quickly understand why Lotus’ commitment to “adding lightness” has given them the reputation for making some of the best-handling cars around.