Welcome! First of all, I like the cut of your jib! I see a good sense of humor and a bit of silliness. That goes well here!
As noted, any question you do ask will have been asked 100 times, but be patient. You will find 'use the fekkin' search button' Nazis on this forum, but most are very happy to help. The good news is that ANY bit of information you need is readily available.
A couple of things:
- Where exactly are you located? LA I think. There are many active members in most places and I'm sure most would be happy to assist - show you the car, check your driveway, etc. Check the region section where you are located and pop in. Most will be more than happy to show you their cars, mods, etc. There's usually a good Lotus turnout at most supercar/cars and coffee events.
- You are a female and as such, you will have dorks hitting on you via the interwebz, so just be ready. Check the 'post a picture of yourself' thread and see a bunch of dudes go batty for a chick with tattoos!
- In looking at any car, make sure you assess the mods. Most of the cars have been modified somewhat. Get a list of them and find out who did the mods.
- Re: Midwest cars. Sorry, but I completely disagree. These are aluminum and fiberglass cars. Rust isn't an issue. Corrosion most likely isn't as most of us store our cars in winter. Might even be a benefit as it will have fewer miles since it's parked for 4-5 months. In addition, most of us in IL/IN/WI have our cars wrenched by TJ (twaszak1 on the forum) - he's like the Lotus whisperer (but don't tell him that or his big head will get bigger) and as such, they've been properly sorted. Honestly, I might be more concerned about a Mojave Desert area car (sand + paint)?
- The driving experience of these cars is like no other. It may be THE greatest 'smiles for the miles' car of our generation. That being said, the Elise's weak link is the S2000's strength - the gearbox. Frankly, the shifter throw/feel of the S2000 is like Kate Beckinsale perfect, whereas it's a bit dodgy in the Elise. For someone coming from another car, no biggie, but coming from an S2000, it may be a bit of an issue, however it's made up for in soooo many other ways. Check to see if the previous owner did the Sector111 shift reinforce mod. Makes a big difference. Adding Jim Clayton's 'big ball' shifter knob also makes a huge difference.
- Lotus Cars - yeah, they are a sh*t show right now. However, I wouldn't let that impact you. You'll most likely be buying a used car that is out of warranty. The issue would be cosmetic/body parts - for example, if you get hit and need a new rear clam - will they be available? Mechanically, not a huge deal as we are talking about (mostly) Toyota parts. I don't really know of one person that has sold their car because of the mess that Lotus is in. I could see a person deciding NOT to buy a NEW Evora from a dealer because of that, but a used '05 Elise? Nah.
Good luck and keep us posted!