Huge thanks for the write up, it is very informative. I have a few more questions in using an Elise as a daily:
Weather: It looks like most drivers I read from (and most used Lotuses on eBay) are in Southern CA. I'm in the foothills outside of Seattle, meaning fun, mountain roads but plenty of rain. There will be some cold days (light ice), but the car would never be driven in the snow or solid ice as even my AWD WRX has difficulty in those situations (and that accounts for a week or two out of the year). To best combat my environment, my requirements for purchase are traction control (maybe the limited slip diff), a factory hard top, and touring tires which I will likely need to get on my own (no AO48 for me). As mentioned before, these are designed/made in similar climate to my own, so it seems possible. Am I crazy for considering a daily driver in these conditions?
Parking: Ok... don't hate me... but I don't have a garage. I have paved parking areas next to my house. I was hoping to just get a top of the line, true weather proof fitted cover and was considering (not 100%) a small covered carport for where the car would be. At work I park in covered garages and would mostly be surrounded by cars that are far more valuable (this morning I parked between a new M5 and a Porsche Cayenne S. It would never be street/parallel parked.
Usage: As I mentioned earlier, I currently drive a WRX (auto
) and with errands, commute, and occational trips in to the city I put less than 10k miles on my car in a year. My wife has an incredibly practical and incredibly unfun car to drive (Dodge Caliber AWD R/T), so it would become more of a workhorse; weekend errands, camping trips, going out in the city (at least when it's not the best part of town), etc which is usually what we use my WRX for more often. That means I would probably put closer to 7-8k miles/year on an Elise.
Obviously it's not the most practical route, but I don't have to explain to you guys why I am looking at going this way. I know I could get a much more functional car that can still be fun for the price, but I am just very taken aback by the Elise, love driving, and I think it would inject some excitement in to the daily humdrum professional working life can be. Does this seem like a bad idea? Are there any potential issues I may be overlooking?