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Old 12-24-2012, 09:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Some basic questions about Elise ownership.

Hi, this is my first post here. I have some basic questions about owning an Elise. Are the older cars still depreciating, or can I expect to own one for a few years and get back most of what I paid when I sell it, assuming it's still in the shape I bought it in?

How easy are these cars to work on, both physically and regarding any special knowledge or tools? Are parts expensive? Are they reliable? I assume the Toyota engines and trannys are, but what about all the other systems?

Are they easy and relatively inexpensive to mod? I probably wouldn't want to do too much to one, but I would at least want to do some small projects.

Is it true that bodywork costs a small fortune?

I would use this car primarily for autocross and HPDEs, along with the occasional joy ride. I currently have a well modded, supercharged Miata, but I've been in a few Elises and Exiges and always find them very impressive. I've never asked specifically about what it's like to own one, but the people I know who do own one seem to like them a lot and don't complain about any problems, at least not to me. Thanks for any and all advice.
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Old 12-24-2012, 09:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Quote:
Hi, this is my first post here. I have some basic questions about owning an Elise. Are the older cars still depreciating, or can I expect to own one for a few years and get back most of what I paid when I sell it, assuming it's still in the shape I bought it in?
Thats hard to say... they might be up in value from 2 years ago right now. best guess is prices seem stable for a good car (basket cases or cars with a long list of stories will always be far cheaper)

Quote:
How easy are these cars to work on, both physically and regarding any special knowledge or tools? Are parts expensive? Are they reliable? I assume the Toyota engines and trannys are, but what about all the other systems?
they are perfectly "normal" cars. so everything is like another car with a few exceptions... like any mid engine car, the engine can require a third elbow to work on... under trays remove easily to get access underneath, clam front and rear are 1/2 day of, 1/2 day on proposition. but there really should be no reason to do that barring large scale engine projects or such.

Quote:
Are they easy and relatively inexpensive to mod? I probably wouldn't want to do too much to one, but I would at least want to do some small projects.
i would say "average" not as inexpensive as a miata... less supply and demand make "kits and bits" more costly, but not outrageous. you can get top notch damper for around 1.5 - 2.5k exhaust systems tend be a little over priced, but around 500 for a muffler and a grand for a header. wheels are wheels... brake pads are standard fare...

Quote:
Is it true that bodywork costs a small fortune?
yes, a car can be totaled just due the price of body work in short order. to have a quality shop replace a clam with new, and some associated parts - estimate ~15k per end and you will not be shocked.

Quote:
I would use this car primarily for autocross and HPDEs, along with the occasional joy ride. I currently have a well modded, supercharged Miata, but I've been in a few Elises and Exiges and always find them very impressive. I've never asked specifically about what it's like to own one, but the people I know who do own one seem to like them a lot and don't complain about any problems, at least not to me. Thanks for any and all advice.
brilliant on the track and make fun autox cars. probably a little "better" for track than autox, or... takes a little more to get them right for that. car was intended for the open track.

i have had my car new since 2004, no regrets, love it, not let me down, and have no real issues to speak of. its great on the track, and very reliable (racing it with slicks might require a bit more sorting from factory) its the car that got me into vintage formula car racing!

track down dave carmancia, he races spec miata, and has owned an elise - he would be the best person to have a chat with

welcome to the forum.
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for all that info. You said pretty much what I was hoping to hear. I'm still a little surprised when I'm told these cars are pretty reliable and affordable, I suppose I expect a low-production race car from a very small manufacturer to be an expensive pain in the butt to own, but they don't seem to be.

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Old 12-24-2012, 10:13 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Well.... I wouldn't be so quick. Wait for some other members to chime in. The Elige is not without its fair share of headaches. I'm a bit busy at the moment, but I'll see about writing up a quick list of issues that commonly plague Elige owners. In the meantime, check out the uberpost or the troubleshooting section of the forum.
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Been said before but you're either an Elise person or not. As Dylan said, 'Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain’t no neutral ground'
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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These are amazing machines! Damaging a clam is costly but with a Toyota drive train they are reliable an inexpensive to maintain. With that said I do have over $35K in upgrades into mine.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I daily drive mine all summer. It's awesome. Comfortable seats, looks awesome, drives like hell.

Rattles a bit and you have to watch the clams, but at the end of the day it's a car, meant to be driven, not put on display. If some prick backs into it and destroys it, so be it. I'll always have the memories when I move on to something else.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum. I am interested in answers to your questions as I am considering one as well. Have been reading up, but no expertise to offer.

At the Orlando LOG32 the welcome bag included a copy of Grassroots Motorsports, Dec 2012 (Volume 29, Number 8). Nice intro article on Elise basics pages 61 to 66; well worth trying to find a copy.

The article indicates prices appear to have stabilized or on the rise since being discontinued in NA. Other key point is there are a lot of salvage value cars due to the high cost of the body work. As I am in Canada the supply of cars is considerably less than in the US.

Good luck in your search.
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well.... I wouldn't be so quick. Wait for some other members to chime in. The Elige is not without its fair share of headaches. I'm a bit busy at the moment, but I'll see about writing up a quick list of issues that commonly plague Elige owners. In the meantime, check out the uberpost or the troubleshooting section of the forum.
Welcome aboard! I believe this is the link to the UberPost. The search function is just pathetic on LT:-(
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f221...rthread-25131/


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Old 12-24-2012, 12:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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^That UberPost is great, thanks.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:16 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum. I am interested in answers to your questions as I am considering one as well. Have been reading up, but no expertise to offer.

At the Orlando LOG32 the welcome bag included a copy of Grassroots Motorsports, Dec 2012 (Volume 29, Number 8). Nice intro article on Elise basics pages 61 to 66; well worth trying to find a copy.

The article indicates prices appear to have stabilized or on the rise since being discontinued in NA. Other key point is there are a lot of salvage value cars due to the high cost of the body work. As I am in Canada the supply of cars is considerably less than in the US.

Good luck in your search.
Stu,

Good to see you made it home in one piece. And so, I assume, did the Élan.

Great meeting you there. We must do it again some time.

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Old 12-24-2012, 02:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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To the OP's questions,

Yes, these cars have some pretty fragile body work, and some pretty soft crumple zones. A minor fender bender on the street can cost a lot. But a high impact incident on the track can save a lot. Having the car absorb and dissipate energy so efficiently means that the car's body will be toast, but yours will be OK. That's a worst case scenario of course, but still worth mentioning.

As for resale value, no one can really predict that. But as has been mentioned, no-story cars hold more value. I don't think any of our Elige's will ever attain investment status. So look at your purchase as a toy. Buy it for the enjoyment you expect to get from it. Do not expect a profit, and when you are looking at whether or not you broke even, remember to factor in the smiles. So at the end of the day it cost you $XXX to own one. Was it worth it? Only you can say.
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Old 12-24-2012, 08:29 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I bought an 06 in 07 and drove it 35k in nearly 4 years and lost about 5k in depreciation. I think my exige s is worth more now than I paid for it.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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You want to get into this niche and you worry about getting most of your money back on a 7 year old car which only cost you in the mid-twenty grand?

Man, was I way off when I got into these cars.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:28 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Body work need not be expensive. It's cheaper to fix fiberglass than steel. Just take it to a shop that works on Corvettes.
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:46 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Body work need not be expensive. It's cheaper to fix fiberglass than steel. Just take it to a shop that works on Corvettes.
while the exige clams are made of matt, the elise is not, its injected chop of varying wall thickness. and while sure, you could matt it up depending on the damage, the elise bodywork doesn't react to damage at all like a 'normal' fiberglass car does. its a case by case proposition. in many cases you get to a point where the labor outweighs the material cost for a new clam. keep in mind it is not just the cost of the clam per say... but all the other little bits that get munched. and good luck matching / feathering a lifestyle color...

the best way to repair a "crash" damaged elise clam is to replace it.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:51 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I'm a little confused. People mention the high cost of the clams, but I saw a pair for sale here on LotusTalk for about $1700 each. The clam is simply the front and rear body work, correct? From what I've read, it's the extruded aluminum chassis that's really expensive and difficult to repair. Is there more to the clams than just the plastic body work?
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Old 12-25-2012, 04:31 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: chassis - typically if the chassis is damaged, it's a goner.

Re: the body. The entire front and rear of the car are two full sections. For a novice shop not familiar with them, they can take a LONG time to repair. Not to mention that Lotus doesn't always have them if they need to be replaced.

One thing I will say about repairs is the time involved. If your Camry gets hit, you bring it to the shop and you have it back in a few days. Repair on fiberglass - clam removal, repair/replace, paint, reinstall, etc. takes a LONG time. I think it's safe to say that if you get body damage (significant enough) and you bring it to even a well reputed shop, you will be out of your car for 3 weeks minimum.

That matters if you live in a cold weather climate and you lose 3 weeks of key driving season. It SUCKS on a beautiful day when you WANT to drive your car, but can't.
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Old 12-25-2012, 04:48 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I'm a little confused. People mention the high cost of the clams, but I saw a pair for sale here on LotusTalk for about $1700 each. The clam is simply the front and rear body work, correct? From what I've read, it's the extruded aluminum chassis that's really expensive and difficult to repair. Is there more to the clams than just the plastic body work?
1> If true they are probably damaged
2> Clams aren't always available used
3> From lotus they are $4k+
4> Damage to aluminum chassis suspension points aren't repairable per lotus (the fix is to replace the chassis)
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:18 PM   #20 (permalink)
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while the exige clams are made of matt, the elise is not, its injected chop of varying wall thickness.
Can you elaborate, I don't follow? And the panels are made differently between the Exige and Elise? I thought it was basically the same car..!?

I'm not disputing the BEST solution is a new clam. But if you don't want to pay $10K+, a repair will cost a lot less. And who cares if it's patched as long as it looks new? If it happened once, it will happen again.
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