Steve Plona just sold a new Lotus Evora—and it took him only seven years to do it.
Omitting the last Lexus LFA that’s presumably still out there, this 2014 Evora S 2+2 was unofficially the oldest new car for sale in America until a few days ago. How on earth could a $90,000 sports car sit unsold in Connecticut, a state brimming with wealthy sports-car owners, under three U.S. presidents? Forget a moment that it’s a new Lotus—obscurity that doesn’t quite age like good French champagne—and instead picture this white-on-black coupe as one man’s quiet dissent.
“It was a protest to some schemes of the pricing people had,” said Plona, general manager for Secor Lotus in New London. “I think it’s an undervalued brand.”
The buyer was an Elise owner from Long Island, New York, who claimed the car for about $70,000, he said. The factory warranty is expired. The tires, engine oil, and battery are original. But that sounds worse than it is. Plona said he plugged in a trickle charger, overfilled the tires to avoid rot, and changed all fluids except for the synthetic oil, which he kept for the new owner to change out at the 1000-mile engine break-in. Every so often, Plona would take the Evora out from climate-controlled storage to let it run. The odometer clocked less than 100 miles.
“There were a lot of dealers that were deeply discounting those cars,” he said. “I thought that was hurting the brand.”
Plona’s discount, seven years on, is roughly what many Lotus dealers were doling out in 2014. Steep depreciation and a near-invisible presence have made modern life hard for Lotus dealers. Yet the U.S. is the company’s number-two market behind Germany, and North America is the number-one region. Lotus sales were great in 2020—a couple hundred, according to Plona—and so were his dealership sales: seven, both new and used.
It’s not like Lotus the company has been in a hurry. The Evora’s door card shows a December 2013 build date, noting the airbag exemption that would expire shortly after. Lotus didn’t install a passenger airbag with a child sensor in time, so it stopped importing cars into the U.S. for an entire year. In 2014, we asked then CEO Jean-Marc Gales about this little problem, who “insisted there is enough inventory of ’14-spec Evoras to meet demand until the new model arrives.” Lord, was Gales right.
When the Evora debuted in 2010, Lotus was on top of the world supplying Tesla with Elise bodies. The British automaker soon promised a five-car lineup and made music producer Swizz Beatz a vice-president. Then the world fell. The company’s board fired the CEO and went without one for nearly two years. Its two prime cars, the Elise and Exige, failed to meet U.S. emissions and safety rules. They left the U.S. in 2011 and only returned five years later as track-only specials. Chinese automaker Geely bought Lotus from a Malaysian investment group in 2017 and now promises a 2000-hp electric hypercar.
“People in the know, they know what the brand is and its storied past,” Plona said. But there aren’t many, which means Plona will happily valet cars for service—one customer lives more than 100 miles away in Massachusetts—and keep those people from buying a Porsche.
Plona’s devotion to customers and refusal to underprice might make him this country’s staunchest Lotus advocate, or maybe he’s just the rare car salesman who exercises patience. He loves the Evora. He’s got seven new GT models in stock, and already he’s on to the next long game: a 2018 Evora 400 in custom Red Velvet paint. Perhaps it might be yours in another few years.