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post #41 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 12:00 PM
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^Take the jump man, you won't regret saying "I own/drive a Lotus"
I too was scared of maintenance but it has forced me to wrench and fix any issues that come up. Plus it's kinda fun to work on such a cool car...
At least if you cannot handle the maintenance yourself or for some reason you decide to sell you will be able to get your $$$ back!

DO IT!
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post #42 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Oh. I do plan to track the car several times a year at Lime Rock, and possible a few more auto X events as well, but I will be spending most of the seat time on fun backroads either on the weekend or to/from work.
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post #43 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 12:12 PM
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Also, my son loves it. Installed an airbag disable switch to make it safe...
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post #44 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 01:24 PM
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Holy thread revival Batman! :-)

If you are back on the forum for the 2nd time contemplating the same issue, you probably already know what you want to do.

OK, regarding a few of your concerns. Mechanically, its a Toyota. Popular engine with plenty of history. Find a good foreign mechanic (I use a shop owned by 2 brothers specializing in BMW's BUT one of the brothers owns a 2006 Elise).

Suspension parts, etc are easy to source through several US suppliers (1 in Philadelphia). Interior bits are still in production so they can be sourced from Lotus through the US suppliers mentioned above.

Do know this:
1. Several soft top parts are not available separately any longer, just the entire soft top.

2. Inspect the intake camshaft before purchase. These cars tend to over-cool oil, allowing you to jump onto the fun cam before the oil is warm enough. The car thinks that when the WATER temp is 160 degrees, the oil must be warm enough. It isn't.

The forum is full of solutions, mostly involving removing both coolers and installing 1 in the rear (expensive) to swapping out the existing sandwich plate for another with a higher temp thermostat (reasonable $).

Buy the car and don't over-think it. Remember, life is too short to drive a boring car. The Elise is many thing...Boring is NOT one of them :-)

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post #45 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 02:00 PM
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- I have some basic mechanic skills but in my research these cars are not the easiest to work on, and parts can sometimes take a while to get. It also seems like work also can often require removing the front and/or rear clam which is not a one person job. I just don't see my wife doing this with me and I have no family nearby to beg.
There might be a few items that are not easy to work on but if you compare it to almost anything in the same date range it is just as easy if not easier. You might run into some tight spaces but this forum has some great knowledge to help. If you start to go aftermarket then yes, not everything has a stock fit and finish and then you can run into some install issues but that is not the car's fault.

Rear clam - get the BOE kit and you wife will only have to help you once. I don't have that kit and my wife helps me remove the rear clam and set it aside, doesn't even take her 5 minutes.

Front clam - this can be a one person job, I've done it myself. A helper is good for install though.
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post #46 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 02:54 PM
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If you like to drive the Elise is your car. Nothing else comes close for the money in terms of driving dynamics or WOW factor. Most people think the car costs many times what it actually does. (Park next to a Lambo or Ferrari and most people will think yours costs about the same.) That said the cars have been going up in value for the past few years. I have owned an 05 and an 06. I recommend the 06 if you have the option. Lotus had some learning experiences with the first year and the 06 cars are in my opinion much better.

Salt is not so much a problem with the new Lotus. They are mostly fiberglass and aluminum. Not much to rust. Toyota parts are cheap and about the only maintenance is oil changes which you can do yourself. Brakes are easy. I change mine every time I go to the track and change them back when I come home. Do pay attention to the rubber boots around the electrical stuff on the firewall. They tend to crack over time and expose some electrical components to corrosion. Keeping them sealed is a good idea. My Elise is a daily driver and I have no regrets.

O6 Elise Full Lotus Sport Ohlins Suspension Upgrade, VF Stage 2
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post #47 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 05:10 PM
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Hi I used to own Miata NA & NB track prepared, now with NA Elise. Both are completely different beast.

Elise feel exotic and drive exotic. I was faster on the track with my NB modified compare to my stock Elise. But Elise is more rewarding to drive. I prefer Elise at high Speed it’s Less scary 🙂
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post #48 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 07:17 PM
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There's a pretty big difference between driving a slow car fast and an Elise. Because it's not high in torque, most people used to large engines feel that it's not a fast car, but if you drive it as you should, which is over 5000RPM, this is a FAST car. It's not a Ferrari, but it's going to be faster than most anything else you're driving next to.

I usually agree with Jason (like the V8 Vantage is the WAYYY underrated, see his V12 Vantage video) but on working on the Elise, I totally disagree. Aside from the aero panels having to be removed for most work, which isn't a big deal at all, this is a pretty easy car to work on for regular maintenance. And the chassis/suspension are super simple. Very, very easy to work on. I think the biggest risk to owning the car is its delicacy. The fiberglass body is a tap away from being totaled.

I also own a Miata. Mine's a 1st gen but I've driven an ND, there's not much difference except the ND has some power and no steering feel.

The difference between the Elise and Miata is basically everything. The entire experience is completely different. I love my Miata, but it's a toy that you can drive anywhere without thinking about it. You can also drive it like you hate it and you're still not breaking any laws. It truly is a slow car fast, but it's the right slow car.

You will have plenty of opportunity to buy a Miata and if you want a used ND, you'll want to wait until the 2019 is a couple years old anyway. The Lotus is an experience, a truly unique one that you should have if you love sports cars.

Last edited by me73; 01-29-2019 at 07:06 AM.
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post #49 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 07:30 PM
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Lotus had some learning experiences with the first year and the 06 cars are in my opinion much better.
What do you think makes the 06 much better?
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post #50 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
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There might be a few items that are not easy to work on but if you compare it to almost anything in the same date range it is just as easy if not easier. You might run into some tight spaces but this forum has some great knowledge to help. If you start to go aftermarket then yes, not everything has a stock fit and finish and then you can run into some install issues but that is not the car's fault.

Rear clam - get the BOE kit and you wife will only have to help you once. I don't have that kit and my wife helps me remove the rear clam and set it aside, doesn't even take her 5 minutes.

Front clam - this can be a one person job, I've done it myself. A helper is good for install though.
I clearly need to do some more research on clams and removal. I seem to be getting different answers, but if I can do this with one person I would feel better about an Elise. The BOE kit is something I will research.

Thanks for that info.
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post #51 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
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There's a pretty big difference between driving a slow car fast and an Elise. Because it's not high in torque, most people used to large engines feel that it's not a fast car, but if you drive it as you should, which is over 5000RPM, this is a FAST car. It's not a Ferrari, but it's going to be faster than most anything else you're driving next to.

I usually agree with Jason (like the V8 Vantage is the WAYYY underrated, see his V12 Vantage video) but on working on the Elise, I totally disagree. Aside from the aero panels having to be removed for most work, which isn't a big deal at all, this is a pretty easy car to work on for regular maintenance. And the chassis/suspension are super simple. Very, very easy to work on. I think the biggest risk to owning the car is its delicacy. The fiberglass body is a tap away from being totaled.

I also own a Miata. Mine's a 1st gen but I've driven an ND, there's not much difference except the ND has no steering feel. The difference between the two cars is basically everything. The entire experience is completely different. I love my Miata, but it's a toy that you can drive anywhere without thinking about it. You can also drive it like you hate it and you're still not breaking any laws. It truly is a slow car fast, but it's the right slow car.

You will have plenty of opportunity to buy a Miata and if you want a used ND, you'll want to wait until the 2019 is a couple years old anyway. The Lotus is an experience, a truly unique one that you should have if you love sports cars.
I have owned many RX-7's (of all three generations) so I am comfortable with driving in the high rev ranges with less torque. I have driven an Elise for all of about 5-10 minutes and it was not on a track, but I have not forgotten the experience.

I get what you are saying about a Miata vs an Elise they are different animals, but they are still both very lightweight (Elise being lighter) RWD cars with the Elise being more driver focused (epscially in terms of steering feel). I have a long torso and just don't fit very well at all in the NB Miata but fit fine in an NC (ND won't be an issue).

I need to drive these cars back to back. The Lotus will be a more special car and more exotic, but also have the challenges of being a 15+ year old car that is harder to find people to work on and source parts. The Miata will be under warranty and I won't worry nearly as much about driving it. But I get it, the Lotus will be a more driver focused experience.

Need to drive them both back to back and weigh pros and cons. I need to research more on maintenance on these Elises as I seem to get different stories talking to different people from "they are easy to work on you can do the work yourself" to "these things are very fragile and you will spend many weekends just doing routine work".

I have three active kids and can't really give up whole weekends to wrench on cars in this stage of my life and I don't want a $35K paper weight and miss the optimal driving months because I am waiting on parts or someone to repair something, or I don't have time so the car sits.

I am sure I am thinking worst case, it's also likely I will have a car that has minimal issues and I may enjoy working on the car.

I clearly need to research and ask more questions when it comes to maintenance.
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post #52 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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What do you think makes the 06 much better?
The problem I see is that for every 06 for sale, there are 10 times more 05's. Based on my budget (low $30's) the 05 is almost inevitable for me unless I can find a good 06 that is in budget.
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post #53 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 07:31 AM
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The problem I see is that for every 06 for sale, there are 10 times more 05's. Based on my budget (low $30's) the 05 is almost inevitable for me unless I can find a good 06 that is in budget.
That's just because there was pent-up demand for an Elise when they came out, and that demand was nearly fully satisfied in '05. After that, there weren't many buyers left, and demand waned heavily. '06+ are much rarer, and that influences prices. It's also a bit of a "duh" statement, but newer cars are more expensive and tend to have lower miles than older cars, even with now model year changes. And while improvements were made each year, they do very little to change the driving experience. Some even say the changes like electronic throttle in '06+ were a detriment, but I'll wager that most don't really notice.

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post #54 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 07:32 AM
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I have owned many RX-7's (of all three generations) so I am comfortable with driving in the high rev ranges with less torque. I have driven an Elise for all of about 5-10 minutes and it was not on a track, but I have not forgotten the experience.

I get what you are saying about a Miata vs an Elise they are different animals, but they are still both very lightweight (Elise being lighter) RWD cars with the Elise being more driver focused (epscially in terms of steering feel). I have a long torso and just don't fit very well at all in the NB Miata but fit fine in an NC (ND won't be an issue).

I need to drive these cars back to back. The Lotus will be a more special car and more exotic, but also have the challenges of being a 15+ year old car that is harder to find people to work on and source parts. The Miata will be under warranty and I won't worry nearly as much about driving it. But I get it, the Lotus will be a more driver focused experience.

Need to drive them both back to back and weigh pros and cons. I need to research more on maintenance on these Elises as I seem to get different stories talking to different people from "they are easy to work on you can do the work yourself" to "these things are very fragile and you will spend many weekends just doing routine work".

I have three active kids and can't really give up whole weekends to wrench on cars in this stage of my life and I don't want a $35K paper weight and miss the optimal driving months because I am waiting on parts or someone to repair something, or I don't have time so the car sits.

I am sure I am thinking worst case, it's also likely I will have a car that has minimal issues and I may enjoy working on the car.

I clearly need to research and ask more questions when it comes to maintenance.
The car being delicate has no baring on how easy it is to work on. Part of the Elise being only 2000 pounds is that it's not built like other cars and some sacrifices to robustness have to be made. Having said that, there's something about the car that still makes it feel like it's of a higher quality than something else light weight, like the Miata. I also have owned a couple of Rx-7s and love them. They're much more like big Miatas in the context of this conversation. I've been unimpressed with the material quality of the interior plastics on Mazdas from the 90s and the sheet metal they used was extremely thin.

Fortunately, most of the work on the car will center around the engine, with doesn't require a clam removal. There is no maintenance work that requires a clam to come off. Any fluid change, spark plugs, air filters, brakes all are aero panel off at worst. In fact, there's not really any maintenance or failure prone items that require the rear clam to be removed. The front clam has to come off for A/C, HVAC, or radiator work. This is extremely rare. If you ask around, I bet you'll be able to find someone who will work on an Elise, the Toyota engine is hardly exotic.

I am 6'1". I had an NB that I never felt comfortable in, the steering wheel interfered with full leg movement and the seat position was a little laid back for head room. This was after I removed some padding from the seat bottom. The NA doesn't have the same issue and although it's small, I fit and can comfortably drive it. The ND has less interior space than the NB. Try it, I bet you won't fit.

Last edited by me73; 01-29-2019 at 08:15 AM.
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post #55 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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The car being delicate has no baring on how easy it is to work on. Part of the Elise being only 2000 pounds is that it's not built like other cars and some sacrifices to robustness have to be made. Having said that, there's something about the car that still makes it feel like it's of a higher quality than something else light weight, like the Miata.

Fortunately, most of the work on the car will center around the engine, with doesn't require a clam removal. There is no maintenance work that requires a clam to come off. Any fluid change, spark plugs, air filters, brakes all are aero panel off at worst. In fact, there's not really any maintenance or failure prone items that require the rear clam to be removed. The front clam has to come off for A/C, HVAC, or radiator work. This is extremely rare. If you ask around, I bet you'll be able to find someone who will work on an Elise, the Toyota engine is hardly exotic.
A sincere thank you for providing this information. This is exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for. You hear stories (some from people who may have never even worked on or owned an Elise) about how hard they are to work on (outside of drivetrain). But the reality is these cars are so basic and as long as suspension and engine work is straightforward then it makes me feel better

I did make a few calls this morning. Within 5 miles from me there are several well known european shops. The first one only works on Porsche and Audi, but they gave me the name of a shop that might be able to help me. I spoke to the head mechanic and he has familiarity with Lotus Elise's and has worked on several and can source parts for me. Really good guy and told me what others have said that the routine maintenance is no big deal on these cars and for the most part they are straightforward but there could be some random parts and potentially even tools he might need to get for some work but his hourly rate was more than fair.

So I am definitely warming up to the this now.

Quote:
I am 6'1". I had an NB that I never felt comfortable in, the steering wheel interfered with full leg movement and the seat position was a little laid back for head room. This was after I removed some padding from the seat bottom. The NA doesn't have the same issue and although it's small, I fit and can comfortably drive it. The ND has less interior space than the NB. Try it, I bet you won't fit.
I will be curious how I fit too. I will 100% test drive one. I have found some very good deals on 2017 Club ND's with low mileage so that is something too. I am looking at spending about $15-17K less for an ND vs Elise which allows me to put money into things like suspension and even forced induction.

The problem I have is even trying to drive an Elise. Very few for sale near me and not sure how they feel about test drives in the winter.
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post #56 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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I also realize my tone is more negative than it should be. First, I love the look of these cars. They are timeless to me and seem to still look very modern and exotic even 15 years later. I think longterm they will hold up well and I can't imagine ever looking at an Elise and thinking it was hideous or boring.

Second if I pay $35K or so for an Elise (and properly maintain it) I would likely be able to sell it for around what I paid (it may go slightly down or slightly up) but it's not like an Elise is going to drop $10-20K after a year or three of ownership. That's pretty enticing.

Third, I have my Focus RS (which I love) as my daily so this really is a toy car for me. I won't be taking it on long road trips, or driving it in extreme weather, or parking it outside everyday.

And most important what I love about these cars are the simplicity and the focus on the driver. Which is so refreshing compared to modern sportscars that are more focused on specs (0-60, 1/4 mile, skid pad, etc). Most of these cars are very very fast but leverage computers and very, very, expensive components (DCT, carbon ceramic brakes, carbon fiber, magnaride dampers, AWD, etc) to deliver that performance. It's more like a video game than real life.

For that reason alone I think the Elise will remain a well sought after classic car as it has always just been about the driver and using very simple proven principles (lightweight, RWD, manual steering rack, manual transmission, etc). In the next 5-10 years I see a big shift to electric sports cars that leverage even more technology that will continue to take away from the pure driving experience. In my opinion that will make cars like an Elise even more sought after for the purists out there (along with older 911's, Cayaman's, etc).
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post #57 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 05:56 PM
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I own a 2013 Porsche 911 4s which I bought new. It is naturally aspirated, and has a 7-speed manual transmission. I've put over 50,000 miles on that car in 5 years, and never once did I think of selling it. Never, that is, until I purchased a 2008 Elise SC this past summer. My Porsche has sat unused in my garage for 6 months, since I got the Elise. The Elise is SO much more fun to drive, that honestly, the Porsche feels like a school bus to me now. It has a big steering wheel, a transmission with auto-rev matching that deprives you of heel-toe if you're in Sport-Plus mode, electronic steering that feels numb (relatively speaking of course because compared to other cars it's actually quite good), sound insulation that muffles what is going on all around you, and oh yeah, it weighs over 3,000 pounds! My point is that the Elise is special even compared to a Porsche 911, so you can be sure it will feel special compared to just about any other car.

Get the Elise, and don't worry about maintenance, parts, fragile clam shells, or anything else. Why? Because even an expensive clam shell expense will be largely offset by what you lose in depreciation on just about any other car. And no other car will give you the feeling that an Elise gives you.
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post #58 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 08:14 PM
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Since you have a daily and the Elise would be strictly for fun drives, I say get it now that you have located a shop that can do some work.

My first Elise experience was renting one in 2015. I had an S2000 at that time and while I loved the Elise driving experience, I thought it was too much of a toy to seriously consider it as a real car.

Fast forward to 2018. I was saving up for a dream car of some sort (Porsche, R8, maybe even F430 years down the line) when I suddenly realized how much sense an Elise makes as a second, fun-only car. It was mostly after reading glowing reviews of Elises on the Ferrari forums that I had the epiphany: All of those cars, as amazing as they are, are compromised. They have to be comfy, luxurious, quiet, have a good stereo, power top, etc. and that is why they weigh 50-90% more than the Elise and are as big as my E90 M3 daily. In trying to appeal to a mass market, in many ways those cars are diluted and not as pure as the uncompromising Elise. Not saying they aren't fun in their own way, but for a pure, exciting driving experience it's hard to do better, and certainly for the price.

Maybe two weeks after this epiphany, I bought my own Elise and have been loving it. So much so that I can't help but drive it to work often and on whatever errands I can find. The fact that's it's simple, reliable, and doesn't depreciate are all big pluses.
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post #59 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 09:30 PM
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I will be curious how I fit too. I will 100% test drive one. I have found some very good deals on 2017 Club ND's with low mileage so that is something too. I am looking at spending about $15-17K less for an ND vs Elise which allows me to put money into things like suspension and even forced induction.

The problem I have is even trying to drive an Elise. Very few for sale near me and not sure how they feel about test drives in the winter.
Monetarily, I wouldn't get too caught up in the purchase price. Be more concerned with the potential depreciation and costs. Even at $17k, a new Miata is going to depreciate for another 10 years at least. The Lotus appears to be done dropping. Insurance, taxes, registration, you'll probably end out better of with the Lotus. But this is a car for fun and money shouldn't be high on the priority list.
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post #60 of 76 (permalink) Old 01-30-2019, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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Monetarily, I wouldn't get too caught up in the purchase price. Be more concerned with the potential depreciation and costs. Even at $17k, a new Miata is going to depreciate for another 10 years at least. The Lotus appears to be done dropping. Insurance, taxes, registration, you'll probably end out better of with the Lotus. But this is a car for fun and money shouldn't be high on the priority list.
Yes the Lotus definitely has the advantage of little to no depreciation but I do expect the running costs to be higher.
Money is always in the equation for me. I will not be paying cash for the Lotus (probably 30-50% down) which I also need to figure out if a bank will even loan me money for a 15 year old car.
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