Wow!, I've now been sitting in my easy chair reading the entire thread. 1) Glad you and your wife are safe. 2) I totally admire your learning curve and your ability to dive right in. 3) The latest issue I would guess is a driveshaft / axle issue. I'm with you regarding no noise, etc. I not only have an Elise but I've owned a Lotus since 1972. I have broken more than my fair share of stub axles in Lotus Elans and Europas. Sounds and acts exactly the same way. Forged stub axles have stopped it.
Paint, ahhhh, paint. My Elise was also repaired in its past before my ownership. When I purchased it, it had some micro blisters in the front clam but most people couldn't see them. Then I backed into the front clam with the hitch on the back of my truck. That made a nice hole!!!
And when the HVAC Resister Pack burned up I was forced to remove the clam. I did, and while I was replacing the radiator, the Resistor Pack and numerous other items I brought the clam to my neighborhood Toyota dealer's body shop. They didn't want to touch it but I talked them into. I then made the mistake of saying "no hurry"! "Can you work on it between jobs"! A few months went by before I got it back. A week later there was a qtr size bubble in the paint. Brought it back. They have bent over backwards to keep me happy. Two month went by, I picked it up again, set it in the back yard and three weeks later another bubble appeared. Returned it. They contacted 3M for material recommendations. Six weeks later it was ready again. I went to pick it up. One of the body men was walking backward to look down the side of another car, hit the clam where it fell off the stand and chipped the paint off the corner. A month later I can=me to pick it up again, when the paint bubbled again. And also at this time the EPA was forcing them to move to water based paint. They then demanded the 3M rep come out. It turned out the 3M rep was mistaken and had them using the wrong materials. They stripped it to the base and repainted it again. Took 11 months but it's back, looks great, and has no issues. I wish you much paint happiness!!!
Instead of the Honda or turbo changes, how about installing the Toyota V6? I love the way they sound!!!
Thank you for a great write up and sharing!
All the Best,
BTW - Mine is Graphite Grey with Red Leather and I love it!