Originally Posted by Possiblelotusfan
Do you now, or have you ever, owned an Eclat?
I own two. A red 1979 and a black 1978. Both are 523 models with leather, 5-spd, A/C, Power Brakes and Power Steering. Both were built late in 1978, and are only a few serial numbers apart.
With the exception of the Lotus-Maxi 5-spd transmission, I don't consider them any more fragile than the Esprit S1-S2 of the same period. The engine is very robust, but it's not tolerant of neglect. The 5-speed's gear set was from the Austin Maxi, and they're not up to the task. Popping teeth off 2nd gear is the usual failure mode.
The only downside is that all Federal 907s of the day were pretty low on torque due to emissions tuning. But that's a 907 thing, not an Eclat thing. If you don't have to pass an annual emissions check, then you can tune around that. But the best bit of tuning you can do is to convert it to a 2.2 liter with 912 parts. It may be that 0.2 doesn't seem like much, but it makes all the difference in the world. But if you do that, you're just putting more stress on that weak Lotus-Maxi 5-speed, so you should also consider a transmission upgrade at the same time.
The interesting point is that the front-engine, 4-seat Eclat handles better than the mid-engine, 2-seat Esprit. That's the reputation, and I can confirm it since I also own a 1980 Esprit S2, and have autocrossed them both.