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post #1 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 06:53 AM Thread Starter
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Elise For Me?

I apologize for the novel

I am at a crossroads and need your thoughts, opinions, and advice. Mid-40's, 3 young kids. My daily driver is a 2015 WRX (which I love) and my wife drives a 2013 Honda Odyssey. I live in Minnesota (Minneapolis burbs).

I am struggling here. I have a long history of owning lighter, fun, RWD sports cars (past cars include but are not limited to three different generations of RX-7's, and recently a BRZ that I had to part with due to the growing family). As much as I love the WRX as a daily driver (some minor handling/suspension mods) I really want a weekend/fun car that can occasionally be driven to work on weekdays for fun and the occasional AutoX. I don't need amenities. I want lighter, lower, and fun. I have the WRX and Odyssey for everything else.

I have spent the good part of the last 12 months looking at used Miata's and S2K's. I have to be honest, as much as I love the cost of the Miata I just have not fallen in love with the NA, and NB's that I have driven. The NC is just missing something for me, but I fit better in the NC than the NB (I am not fat, my eyes are literally level with the top of the windshield). I keep trying to make myself love these cars, and struggle to.

I like the S2K, but lower mileage good ones near me that are not beat to death or modded improperly are hard to find and expensive ($18-22K). I like the car more than the Miata, but again, not really in love with it enough to drop $20K. The driving dynamics are pretty much there for me but the styling does nothing. And I hate to sound superficial, but I want a car that I love, not just like.

I keep thinking I might pickup a used FR-S/BRZ.. I loved the car a lot. The power is lacking, but the driving dynamics are all there. Low to the ground. Great handling, cheap to maintain, etc. But... I drove an Elise a few years ago and keep coming back to it.

I love the styling of the Elise. I love the handling, and driving dynamics. I don't mind the spartan interior and lack of amenities. The price is a little more than I would like to spend but, I have the money and feel the car (used 2005-2006) will most likely hold it's current value pretty well over time. The Elise seems to stir my soul in a way that the others don't.

So what's the problem, right? Buy an Elise and be done with it you say... Well here is the thing. The fiberglass body shell scares me. The cost of having things repaired scares me. I am somewhat handy but not a wrench head. I have three young kids who will be near the car on bikes, scooters, balls, etc. So this is where I would love to hear from you. Actual Elise owners who are similar to me in that you may have young kids. I don't want a moneypit and I also don't want to be worried everytime I have to park the car at a busy store somewhere. Am I over thinking this? Overly worried?

Thanks for hearing me out.
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post #2 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 07:21 AM
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These are tough and simple little cars, not much goes wrong. There is so much information on the site at this point that you'll be able to find a DIY guide for pretty much everything. Consumables and maintenance are cheap when you put aside an afternoon to get stuff done yourself.

As far as wayward bicycles in the garage, the fiberglass will definitely crack given enough of an impact. Parking lots have never been a problem for me since there are usually empty areas at the back, but it's recommended that you never parallel park the car.

There are definitely some tradeoffs, but the driving experience overshadows the extra care that must be taken imo.

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post #3 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 08:26 AM
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I have two kids, currently 1 and 4. I work on the Exige myself and the kids want to help out most of the time. This usually means making sure they don’t have anything in their hands to bang on the car with, collecting the tools they walk off with and making sure they do not get into any chemicals I may have out. The kids have actually hit the clam with their plastic toy tools once, no scratch or crack and I do not think they will do that again. For me the worry about the kids doing something to the car is not an issue. I’d suggest making sure the bikes, toys and other garage items are not stored near the car and if they are make sure your kids know how to get to them without harming the car.

The cost of ownership is not expensive unless you plan for several upgrades or do not have good insurance. Normal maintenance is easy and not very expensive if you can do the work yourself. If you plan to track the car often cost will go up, but that would be true with any car. If you do choose the Lotus this forum can be a great help in picking the right car and maintaining it.
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post #4 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 08:39 AM
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Your experience parallels much of mine. Add to that, I live four hours from the nearest authorized Lotus center. Five years, and so far, so good.

First, as you laid out, this is a purpose-built car. Put out of mind any notion that these things are practical in any way. Also, if you don't have an indoor garage space and you want to preserve the value look elsewhere. Yes, the fiberglass body is fragile but if this is a car that you don't need to drive in any circumstances you likely can mitigate risks. Kids can be trained to be careful around the car. Keep it covered with good, thick protection, and cordoned off as much as you can. At the end of the day, that's what insurance is for.

Perform routine maintenance, and you will probably at least break even on the car as an investment. Turn it into a track monster or a DD and all bets are off. The basic maintenance like oil changes are easy, but tedious because of all the panel fasteners to remove. Brake jobs are a walk in the park. Beyond that, the mechanicals are mostly Toyota...

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post #5 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 08:57 AM
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I bought a used one for myself when I was in my late 40's with two middle-school/high-schoolers in the house. Sold it 6 years later, a few months ago, for what I paid for it. Except for a bad thermostat, all the costs I incurred in the car were of my own choice, making it more of a track car.

The body is much tougher than you'd think in daily use. I mean a teenager banging into it in the garage won't do a thing. On the other hand, a 5mph accident in a parking lot will leave you with a massive front/rear clam bill, there is no avoiding that.

It's not a Miata or an S2000, it is much more fun than that. Better steering, more fun with the 2-stage cam kicking in, better noises. A Miata/S2000 can be made to be quick as heck around a track with sticky tires, but it's a dull kind of speed.

OTOH, the Elise is just hopeless as any kind of daily car. It's not just the ingress/egress, which is OK once you learn what to do and aren't too heavy, but the lack of torque under 5000 RPM, the noisy aluminum structure, and the lack of decent sightlines in daily driving. Radio sucks. I mean really sucks, none of them can even get AM if you want to listen to sports radio. A/C is kind of a joke, and a long-distance drive (think 2+ hours) is a pain.

If what you want is a fun car to take you around to daily activities, and there's nothing at all wrong with that, Miata/S2000 will be much less of a pain. If what you want is a fun car to take out a few times a week when your schedule permits and go for a drive because going for a drive is what you want to do, the Elise will be much more rewarding than the Japanese cars. Looks way better too.

There's this too: none of these cars are necessarily long commitments. You can get one and 6 months later decide it's not for you, and sell it right back to the next guy. I think at least the Elise is now on so many bucket lists that anytime you want to sell it it's gone so long as you buy a no excuses, non-salvage title car.

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post #6 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 11:11 AM
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I am 42 with 3 young boys.
I used to own a turboII rx7 and mr2 mk1
I currently have a mazda5 (last stickshift minivan!), jeep grand Cherokee, civic, and lotus elise.

The Elise is a no brainer if you can do maintenance yourself and if you are a good defensive driver. It will also hold its value or even increase. It will turn heads and kids love them. People will always think that it is new because they've never seen one.

Get the Lotus

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post #7 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 11:46 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LostPawn View Post
I have two kids, currently 1 and 4. I work on the Exige myself and the kids want to help out most of the time. This usually means making sure they donít have anything in their hands to bang on the car with, collecting the tools they walk off with and making sure they do not get into any chemicals I may have out. The kids have actually hit the clam with their plastic toy tools once, no scratch or crack and I do not think they will do that again. For me the worry about the kids doing something to the car is not an issue. Iíd suggest making sure the bikes, toys and other garage items are not stored near the car and if they are make sure your kids know how to get to them without harming the car.

The cost of ownership is not expensive unless you plan for several upgrades or do not have good insurance. Normal maintenance is easy and not very expensive if you can do the work yourself. If you plan to track the car often cost will go up, but that would be true with any car. If you do choose the Lotus this forum can be a great help in picking the right car and maintaining it.
I do have a three car garage. The Lotus would have to share some space with other things, but as small as these cars are, that won't be an issue. Living in Minnesota I would keep the car garaged through the winter to avoid salt on the roads.
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post #8 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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I bought a used one for myself when I was in my late 40's with two middle-school/high-schoolers in the house. Sold it 6 years later, a few months ago, for what I paid for it. Except for a bad thermostat, all the costs I incurred in the car were of my own choice, making it more of a track car.

The body is much tougher than you'd think in daily use. I mean a teenager banging into it in the garage won't do a thing. On the other hand, a 5mph accident in a parking lot will leave you with a massive front/rear clam bill, there is no avoiding that.

It's not a Miata or an S2000, it is much more fun than that. Better steering, more fun with the 2-stage cam kicking in, better noises. A Miata/S2000 can be made to be quick as heck around a track with sticky tires, but it's a dull kind of speed.

OTOH, the Elise is just hopeless as any kind of daily car. It's not just the ingress/egress, which is OK once you learn what to do and aren't too heavy, but the lack of torque under 5000 RPM, the noisy aluminum structure, and the lack of decent sightlines in daily driving. Radio sucks. I mean really sucks, none of them can even get AM if you want to listen to sports radio. A/C is kind of a joke, and a long-distance drive (think 2+ hours) is a pain.

If what you want is a fun car to take you around to daily activities, and there's nothing at all wrong with that, Miata/S2000 will be much less of a pain. If what you want is a fun car to take out a few times a week when your schedule permits and go for a drive because going for a drive is what you want to do, the Elise will be much more rewarding than the Japanese cars. Looks way better too.

There's this too: none of these cars are necessarily long commitments. You can get one and 6 months later decide it's not for you, and sell it right back to the next guy. I think at least the Elise is now on so many bucket lists that anytime you want to sell it it's gone so long as you buy a no excuses, non-salvage title car.
Thanks for your candid feedback. This car will probably be driven a few thousand miles a year at best and most of the trips would be short, fun roads with the occasional AutoX day thrown in when I have time. It would be a waste to own a car like this if it never sees the track at all.

To your point, and I guess this is true of used Miata/S2K as well, if I keep the car for 6 months or 3 years there will most likely be little money lost outside of normal maintenance. That is huge for me as I do get bored with cars.

I am feeling better about this purchase. As far as doing maintenance myself, I need to research that a little more to understand how laborious changing oil, filters, etc is, but I enjoy that type of thing.

My oldest is 10 and he is starting to show interest in cars (he wants me to give him my WRX when is is old enough to drive) and it might be a fun thing for the two of us to bond over. My other two children are girls who, so far, have not shown any interest in cars except for my 7 year old daughter who likes to challenge me at Mario Kart.

Please keep the thoughts and experiences coming. I realize I am a grown man and will make my own decisions, but the experiences and opinions of those in similar situations in this forum are immensely helpful.

Thank you to all who have replied. I am very impressed with the Lotus community, and this is also important to me. I want a car that has a good support network and people with similar backgrounds and interests.
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post #9 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 11:58 AM
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Thanks for your candid feedback. This car will probably be driven a few thousand miles a year at best and most of the trips would be short, fun roads with the occasional AutoX day thrown in when I have time. It would be a waste to own a car like this if it never sees the track at all.

To your point, and I guess this is true of used Miata/S2K as well, if I keep the car for 6 months or 3 years there will most likely be little money lost outside of normal maintenance. That is huge for me as I do get bored with cars.

I am feeling better about this purchase. As far as doing maintenance myself, I need to research that a little more to understand how laborious changing oil, filters, etc is, but I enjoy that type of thing.

My oldest is 10 and he is starting to show interest in cars (he wants me to give him my WRX when is is old enough to drive) and it might be a fun thing for the two of us to bond over. My other two children are girls who, so far, have not shown any interest in cars except for my 7 year old daughter who likes to challenge me at Mario Kart.

Please keep the thoughts and experiences coming. I realize I am a grown man and will make my own decisions, but the experiences and opinions of those in similar situations in this forum are immensely helpful.

Thank you to all who have replied. I am very impressed with the Lotus community, and this is also important to me. I want a car that has a good support network and people with similar backgrounds and interests.
Here is some reading material re: maintenance/repair guides. Hopefully it will give you a sense of what's needed.

https://howtune.com/vehicles/654-lotus-elise

Lotus Elise Maintenance, Contents, Maintenance Log

2005 Nightfall Blue Elise: Sport, Touring, Quantum Zeros, Pro Alloy, BWR De-Cat, Stage II, BOE Torque200 tune
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post #10 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 12:02 PM
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The Elise is not a money pit, but I do all my own work (except machining). It can be easily damaged, however. You could crack the fiberglass parking it. If the car isn't garaged, it will age faster and definitely be susceptible to bicycle damage. My kids are really careful (and past that stage at this point), but some of my other cars outside the garage have black streaks and scratches from handlebars.
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post #11 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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Here is some reading material re: maintenance/repair guides. Hopefully it will give you a sense of what's needed.

https://howtune.com/vehicles/654-lotus-elise

Lotus Elise Maintenance, Contents, Maintenance Log
Thank you!
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post #12 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 01:02 PM
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For maintenance all you really need are a good set of ramps, a low-profile floor jack, lots of metric socket options, and maybe a set of jack stands. Do be really careful to follow all jacking instructions to the letter. There are really good tutorials here and I really took my time the first go at everything to make sure I was doing it right. Easy peasy.

The only two repairs that I had done at Lotus shops were the oil line recall (done at Luther in Golden Valley, MN) and a thermostat replacement (Chicago) - that thing's a bugger to get to so I used the job as an excuse to get everything flushed and inspected as well.

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post #13 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 03:54 PM
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I saw a new miata in the flesh today...it is very nice!

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post #14 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by thill View Post
...So what's the problem, right? Buy an Elise and be done with it you say... Well here is the thing. The fiberglass body shell scares me. The cost of having things repaired scares me. I am somewhat handy but not a wrench head. I have three young kids who will be near the car on bikes, scooters, balls, etc. So this is where I would love to hear from you. Actual Elise owners who are similar to me in that you may have young kids. I don't want a moneypit and I also don't want to be worried everytime I have to park the car at a busy store somewhere. Am I over thinking this? Overly worried?
...
I bought mine when I had just turned 40... had two kids, four and one, and it became my daily driver. I drive to shops, to work, drop the kids at school, and I love it. Now have three kids and finally, at the beginning of this year, bought another car so that I can take more than one child at a time (the littlest started full time school this year). Also I don't have a garage, just a carport. I do need to do some cosmetic work on the car now - 9 years after I bought it - but that is just upkeep

I cannot envisage ever selling it!

Just do it!!
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post #15 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 04:35 PM
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Very similar family situation here, 3 elementary age kids, 1 Odyssey, 1 Fiat Abarth, 1 Elise.
Thoughts on the kids; My daughters friend ran into the back of my Elise on her bike and cracked it pretty good. The new paint was only a few weeks old, at the time I was pretty pissed. Then a rock chipped the new windshield and a buckled chunk of road destroyed the front lip and mangled the clam. Again, I was pretty pissed. Then I moved to Phoenix where "the people are great, no one will mess with your car" and got egged and hit and run in my first month. I stopped getting pissed. What's the point? It's just a car. If you use it, stuffs gonna happen. If you don't use it, stuffs still gonna happen.
That being said, I'd recommend a 2+2 Evora over the Elise.

Just moved to Phoenix, anyone else here?
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post #16 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 06:06 PM
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Statement#1
You pays your money and you takes your chances/choice...


These clown cars elicit passion. most good some well not good They do represent the road less traveled RE: car ownership. I lurked for a year or so before I jumped in 4 years ago.

As long as you don't get overly OCD/Modmadness on the car it shouldn't become a burden. With that said see statement #1

L O T U S

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post #17 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 06:59 PM
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Miata looks good, check this link

Mazda MX-5 Miata goes Head 2 Head with Subaru BRZ

I'm 43, have 2 kids (age 8 and 10). My Elise, purchased in 2005, sold in 2015, was a great weekend car. I supercharged it for the occasional HPDE, and changed a bunch of things to improve reliability (Gpan, RTD, Shifter kit, etc), and enjoyed the experience of owning it.
I'm OCD about my things, too. I stressed about parking it. I stressed about stuff breaking on it (2nd cam, oil lines, etc). I stressed about the fragility of the fiberglass clamshells in traffic. Bottom line, it never left me stranded, and it never required $1000s to repair. The car pretty much was a garage queen because of my reluctance to expose it to risk. AND, the air conditioning was crap, which made hot Texas and California days a bummer. I didn't miss it when I sold it. Maybe that's because I sold it to buy an Evora S 2+2. No regrets on either purchase, but as a DD, the Evora can't be beat.

If you're limited in budget, I've seen wirewheels selling an Evora for $39k.

If you're only going to be satisfied with the looks of the Elise (which are admittedly awesome), then you need to get the Elise.

It really can help to have an independent Lotus shop near you. Not sure about MN, but in Northern California, I only had to drive 1.5 hours to get to a good one (and now they just moved their shop 10 minutes from my house, which was like the best birthday present I've ever received.)

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post #18 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 08:12 PM
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Your statement of "driving experience" screamed to me that you would truly enjoy the Elise. But, with children, you must be able to EXPECT cosmetic damage from the kids. It's just part of life. I remember buying a new car and on the second day the neighbors kid rode his bike in our driveway and put an 11" gouge in my brand new car!

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post #19 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 10:26 PM
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I do have a three car garage. The Lotus would have to share some space with other things, but as small as these cars are, that won't be an issue. Living in Minnesota I would keep the car garaged through the winter to avoid salt on the roads.
Thill, I think you've supplied your own solution. If you are not using the Lotus as a DD, have a 3-car garage, and are worried about damage, just get a 4-post lift. Put the Elise/Exige on the lift until you need it, on a battery tender, and it's up and out of the way at other times. Plus, you can put another car under it.

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post #20 of 76 (permalink) Old 08-06-2015, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 1swift1 View Post
Mazda MX-5 Miata goes Head 2 Head with Subaru BRZ

I'm 43, have 2 kids (age 8 and 10). My Elise, purchased in 2005, sold in 2015, was a great weekend car. I supercharged it for the occasional HPDE, and changed a bunch of things to improve reliability (Gpan, RTD, Shifter kit, etc), and enjoyed the experience of owning it.
I'm OCD about my things, too. I stressed about parking it. I stressed about stuff breaking on it (2nd cam, oil lines, etc). I stressed about the fragility of the fiberglass clamshells in traffic. Bottom line, it never left me stranded, and it never required $1000s to repair. The car pretty much was a garage queen because of my reluctance to expose it to risk. AND, the air conditioning was crap, which made hot Texas and California days a bummer. I didn't miss it when I sold it. Maybe that's because I sold it to buy an Evora S 2+2. No regrets on either purchase, but as a DD, the Evora can't be beat.

If you're limited in budget, I've seen wirewheels selling an Evora for $39k.

If you're only going to be satisfied with the looks of the Elise (which are admittedly awesome), then you need to get the Elise.

It really can help to have an independent Lotus shop near you. Not sure about MN, but in Northern California, I only had to drive 1.5 hours to get to a good one (and now they just moved their shop 10 minutes from my house, which was like the best birthday present I've ever received.)
I am definitely going to take a look at the new Miata for sure before I buy. I have been watching the car and it is really showing promise. Not sure how I feel about all that body roll, I tend to prefer a car that has less roll and is more planted in the corners and feels more stiff. The other disadvantage for the Miata is that it is a 2016 model and there are no new ones and dealers want MSRP or around that. That means the car, like most new Miata's, will depreciate like a rock the first 1-3 years of ownership. Just something I am thinking about, and a used FR-S/BRZ will be closer to $19-22K and so is a clean S2K...

Evora is out of the budget. That $39K one is kinda an anomaly, on average, they seem to sell for considerably more. My budget will be capped right around $30K. We do have a Lotus dealer/service center within about 15 miles of where I live so that will be nice, but probably very expensive.

I will almost certainly be buying this car out of state and most likely sight unseen so I have some trepidation about that as well.

Lots to consider here. First step is getting my 3rd car garage ready for a car and also working on the wife
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