Lotus never managed to bring the original Series 1 Elise into the United States, but an independent company, Sun International, did. To make the car U.S.-legal, Sun International ditched the Elise's original Rover K-Series engine for one of the all-time great four-cylinders, the 1.8-liter from the Acura Integra Type R. Only a handful of such cars exist, and one just came up for sale on Cars and Bids.
Specifically, it's a 1999 Elise 111S in left-hand drive and looking quite handsome with silver over black five-spoke Rota wheels. Based on the paperwork shown in the listing, this Elise was brought into the U.S. in 2002, with the B18C engine and Honda gearbox installed in 2003. It was first registered in 2005 as a 2001 Sun International RS Spider.
The Honda engine is arguably an upgrade over the original Rover unit. That four-cylinder was light and rev-happy, but they're prone to head-gasket failures and parts are impossible to find in the U.S. The B18C, meanwhile, is Honda-reliable and with its 8400-rpm redline and VTEC cylinder head, a perfect match for the lightweight Elise.
Gallery: Integra Type R-Powered Lotus Elise For Sale
The Series 1 Elise is smaller and lighter than the S2 that eventually came to the 'States in 2005, with a curb weight of under 1600 pounds. And to this reporter's eyes, prettier, too. While the Integra engine installation eats into what little trunk space this Elise originally had, you're probably not buying a car like this to run errands.
Overall, the car presents very well, with the only obvious blemish being some fiberglass chipping on the hard top. (A soft top is also included.) It sits low on coilover suspension, and there's a ton of documented recent maintenance, too.
Of course, with the first examples being built in 1997, the S1 Elise is eligible for import into the U.S. now, But it's very unlikely you'll find one overseas with this wonderful engine installed in the rear. The auction ends on January 11th, and we're very curious to see what it'll sell for.