By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Autotrader

Let me get two things out of the way straight off. You’ll have to squint because these images are terrible. And also, 1998 pricing is not a good thing in this instance.

Usually when a kit languishes for many years, uncompleted and gathering dust, it doesn’t appreciate — in most cases that is. While this Xanthos 23 hasn’t appreciated, its owner believes it’s still worth nearly the same price as when it was new in 1998. The exception being, that the owner has sourced an engine and transmission to go along with it. Normally we wouldn’t bother you with a 20-year-old dusty disassembled kit for $35,000 (with crappy photos), but when that kit is a faithful copy of the Lotus 23 with a high-revving Honda VTEC engine, certain considerations are in order.

The Xanthos 23 originally debuted back in the late 1990s with warm reception. The company was involved with supplying spares and replacement parts for legit Lotus 23s, so it was a safe bet that they’d get their replica right. The car started out very similar to the Lotus, with a space frame chassis with a similar wheelbase measurement, and A-arm suspension. The fiberglass body came unfinished, but mounted to the chassis, and Lotus wobbly web wheels were included. The base price for a roller was $35,000, and a full turnkey could be had for around $48,000.

Now some 20 years out, the Xanthos is a rare sight. But folks still long for the elemental-type driving experience cars like this can offer, and a road-legal Lotus 23 with the right modern engine would pure nirvana. And in a lightweight racer like this, the included Honda B18C1 would be hard to beat.

This 1.8-liter mill was originally installed in the ’94-’01 Acura Integra GS-R, and utilized variable valve timing and 10:1 compression to produce 170 hp at a lofty 7,600 rpm. Honda’s time-tested VTEC kicks in at 4,400 rpm, and the needle will keep climbing to an 8,100 rpm redline. The seller has included a VW transaxle to send power to the rear, as in the original Lotus, but the included article is a five-speed unit from KCR Transmissions.

The seller has included a lot of odds and ends to sweeten the deal, including an ECU, wiring harness, fancy differential and adaptor plate, but there’s still plenty of work to be done here and a lofty $35,000 to part with. With that in mind, you have ask yourself how bad do you want it — $35,000 worth?

See the seller's ad here on Autotrader.