The Spotted Week That Was | S1, Accord, Elite

It's been another busy week on planet PH. These are the cars we couldn't stop thinking about…

By PH Staff / Sunday, November 8, 2020

Audi S1, 2015, 60k, £14,799

With a 231hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine driving all four wheels, the Audi S1 officially retired without ever facing a directly comparable rival. Comfortably more potent than the Ford Fiesta ST, but not as powerful or as pricey as larger AWD hot hatches, the S1 was always an outlier. With 273lb ft available from 2,000rpm and a sub-2.5-metre wheelbase, it was quick and tiny.

It was also improbably difficult to engineer, the A1 it was based on not having been conceived with quattro in mind. But it went like the clappers, and because it had a manual gearbox and traction to spare, it found plenty of tickled-pink customers. Granted, it couldn't hold a candle to more serious Audi-built hatchbacks – yet it often felt custom-built for British B roads in a way they never did.

The forthcoming Yaris GR is blessed with a similar list of ingredients, but that car starts at £30k; used S1s can be had for half that these days – take this 60,000-mile-old, 2015 example that’s up for £14,799. We'll find out soon enough if the Toyota is worth twice as much – but one thing is certain: Audi hasn't followed up the S1 with anything quite so likeable.

Honda Accord Type R, 1999, 12k, £19,195

The car that brought the Type R moniker to Britain might not have stirred the sort of excitement that Integras and Civics did, but it’s always been a terrific machine. Using Honda’s H22A7 2.2-litre and a five-speed manual gearbox that drove the front wheels through a limited slip differential, it was more potent than the subsequent Civic Type R. 212hp came at 7,200rpm and the motor span freely for another 800 revs; torque peaked with 159lb ft at 6,700rpm. It was an authentic VTEC lump.

The CH1 Accord chassis was, to many people’s surprise, also accustomed to the sporting life. When it arrived in 1998 with firmed up suspension and excellent balance, people likened it to a Japanese take on the Sierra Cosworth. It was quite different, of course, with the high-revving naturally aspirated engine at its core, but the praise was significant nonetheless. Still, Britain is a hot hatch market first and foremost, and interest faltered.

Until now, perhaps. This one is up for £19k. Yep. Nineteen. It’s done only 11,897 miles and is described as being in remarkable condition, with all paperwork and history supplied in the sale. As far as Accords go, then, this is as good as it gets, but given that EP3s can be had for less than half the price, you’d have to be a real Honda Type R aficionado to seek it out. As we’ve found out on more than one occasion, though, the Accord can cut it in very senior company.

Lotus Elite S2, 1962, N/A, £84,995

Things don’t get much more British than a Colin Chapman era Lotus that was built for a county cricketer who bought the car with his testimonial match funds, do they? I stumbled across this lovely Elite S2 by chance, and now I’m smitten. And also a little bit ashamed it’s taken me this long to give Peter Kirwan-Taylor’s design this much attention.

I love the rear-leaning proportions of the Elite’s profile, its narrow wire knock ons beneath curving arches and the simplicity of its interior. It’s Chapman minimalism at its best, and perfectly illustrates the lightweight, no frills engineering beneath the Elite’s skin. Coventry Climax 1.2-litre up front, four-speed manual gearbox spinning a propshaft to drive the rear wheels. The motor produced 84hp at the crank (or 100hp with optional 40DCOE Webers), which was plenty in a little Elite weighing only 660kg.

The S2 was given a few new chassis features that were said to alter the front axle’s toe under load to improve turn in; I suspect that wood-rimmed wheel is alive with feel passed up from those period Firestones. More often than not, all you really need is a car that fills your senses with the vibrations and connectivity of a traditional sports car. This Elite has me totally inspired; if only I had the £85k to buy it.

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