I'd always wanted a Lotus since I was very young and when I managed to make a bit of cash selling a flat in London I decided to treat myself. I bought a 1974 +2S 130/5 "big valve" engined Lotus Elan. I have to say I *LOVE* this car.
Elans of this era are not super cars so it is not the fastest thing on the planet - they top out at about 125mph. Acceleration though is impressive enough with very respectable 0-60 times for a naturally aspirated 1600cc car and the most important thing about the Elan (any Elan on the 60s chassis by Chapman like this one) is that it handles on rails. And anyone who describes any other car as handling on rails really needs to try a classic Lotus Elan because I swear they will move their benchmark!
I do not know what one has to do in normal driving conditions to even get the tyres to squeal a bit! It's just immaculate to drive and enormous fun. You can have a wonderful time in the English country lanes and not even break the speed limit with short bursts of acceleration and exhilerating cornering. All in all a cracking car which I will only ever sell in the most dire of circumstances.
As for the old Lotus acronym people like to chuckle about, Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious, I have not found this to be the case at all. A well maintained Lotus that is kept in good shape is actually not too much trouble at all. Many parts are shared with the Ford Cortina of the same era (the Cortina donates the engine block for the original Elan) and so are not expensive. And it's a 1600cc so it's not too thirsty (I reckon I get about 35mpg, but of course it's a Lotus so I thrash it about a bit - if you drove it like a grandmother you might get 40mpg - a marked improvement on the 8-12mpg from my father's V12 XJS!)
The only problems I've had are more down to lack of use than anything. The car gets driven every few weeks, but not enough to stop a troublesome brake caliper binding up repeatedly - the sort of thing that would stay freed if the car was in daily use.
But all in all, good car, no problems, great fun, holds its value, HIGHLY recommended if you want a reasonably inexpensive weekend classic.
One piece of advice. Pay the money for a good one. Don't be tempted to buy one that's "alright". That dreaded "alright" could turn in to a big fat bill for something nasty! False economy.