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Local Lotus Dealer Is Virginia's First

Car enthusiasts at the four-year-old Porsche dealership, owned by Mark Cooke, had been keeping up with Lotus, especially since the U.S. introduction of its Elise model in July 2004.

They made a phone call, served as host to Lotus reps, "and it just all came together," says Robert E. Rinck, who sells for the Porsche dealership but becomes sales manager of Euroclassics Lotus.

Rinck, who drives a 911 Porsche, says the Elise is a driver's car, and tends to attract people who would love the idea of driving Formula One, or NASCAR-style, but don't want to spend a lot of money.

"These cars are beating Ferraris and Lamborghinis and Porsches out on the track," he says. But their prices range from $43,000 to $51,000. The 190-horsepower car uses a four-cylinder Toyota motor and boasts a zero-to-60 mph acceleration in 4.7 seconds.

It's tiny, too — less than 13 feet from bumper to bumper and shorter than 4 feet high. "It handles like no other car I've driven," Rinck says. "It's like taking a go-cart off the go-cart track and onto the highway."

But don't expect big amenities, Rinck says. "It's a true, true sports car," he says. "There's no surround sound or navigational system or heated seats." You get in and go.

Euroclassics Lotus had yet to hang its sign July 22, but had sold six cars in three days, Rinck says. The Porsche dealership is in the process of expanding its building to house its new Lotus franchise and its consignment-car business. — Jason Roop

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