Looking to buy an Elise in Southern California had a few questions - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Looking to buy an Elise in Southern California had a few questions

Hi there,

I've always wanted an Elise and will likely be in a position to purchase one later this year. I currently own a 2004 C5 Corvette which I've been modifying since having it and I've learned quite a bit about maintaining an older/used vehicle through that experience. That being said here's some questions that I had.

1) What is a preferred/good Lotus shop in Southern California? There's quite a few Corvette specialty shops in Southern California, which made maintaining my Corvette a great experience thus far. Curious to see what options are available for Lotus for things like oil changes, brake jobs, etc. I'm ideally hoping for somewhere that isn't going to take forever to do repairs and won't cost a complete arm and a leg. I like straight shooters that can get the job done. I don't need pomp and circumstance, I just need my car running right.

2) Is there a pre purchase inspector available in the Southern California area that this forum knows of? When I bought my C5 I realized there was more wrong with it than initially met the eye. It wasn't the end of the world since the car is pretty easy to maintain but knowing how fragile Lotuses are, etc. I think it is worthwhile to get one that is well sorted.

3) Is there any advantage to getting an Exige or an Elise SC? I've read that the Exige is pretty much the exact same as the Elise, just with some slight downforce aero goodies acting on it, less visibility, and a thicker clamshell. Are Exiges more durable? Less problem prone, etc? Likewise would purchasing an Elise SC be an advantage in anyway? It seems like you can purchase an aftermarket supercharger for cheaper than the price difference between an Elise SC and standard Elise.

4) Is there any place in Southern California to test drive or rent an Elise? It has such an ethos about it, and I feel like I've watched every review out there for one, but I haven't driven one. Would really be a helpful step in ensuring that this is the car I want to buy later this year lol.

5) Any thoughts or general opinions for someone purchasing a Lotus in Southern California? On my end I just want a car that's going to be fun to drive and that isn't going to turn into a money sink. I've done the whole aftermarket thing with my C5, which was fun, but I am hoping for something that will put a smile on my face with minimal aftermarket assistance.

Thank you!
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 04:34 AM
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As good as the Elige, is stock, it is even better with some mods (shocks would be the first one). Coming from a C5, you probably will want a supercharger sooner or later. Talk with Shinoo at Inokinetic, great customer service and plenty of shiny things that you will want.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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As good as the Elige, is stock, it is even better with some mods (shocks would be the first one). Coming from a C5, you probably will want a supercharger sooner or later. Talk with Shinoo at Inokinetic, great customer service and plenty of shiny things that you will want.
Yeah I am pretty sure I want a supercharger at somepoint, which is partially why I am interested in an Exige S240 or an Elise SC right from the get go.

Thanks for the recommendation on Inokinetic.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by eaglerulez View Post

3) Is there any advantage to getting an Exige or an Elise SC? I've read that the Exige is pretty much the exact same as the Elise, just with some slight downforce aero goodies acting on it, less visibility, and a thicker clamshell. Are Exiges more durable? Less problem prone, etc? Likewise would purchasing an Elise SC be an advantage in anyway? It seems like you can purchase an aftermarket supercharger for cheaper than the price difference between an Elise SC and standard Elise.

5) Any thoughts or general opinions for someone purchasing a Lotus in Southern California? On my end I just want a car that's going to be fun to drive and that isn't going to turn into a money sink. I've done the whole aftermarket thing with my C5, which was fun, but I am hoping for something that will put a smile on my face with minimal aftermarket assistance.
I suppose ill add a little bit to this...

3. the main difference between the elise & exige is aesthetics. (different touches in clam shells/roofs/lids/panels/rims). for the first 2 years (05-06) the elige was sold in the US there were no differences in drivetrain (in '07 on up the exige became supercharged in 3 different tiers & in '08 the elise offered it as an option iirc). the exige always offered better suspension packages over the elise but with aftermarket options available it doesn't take much to upgrade either models. luckily every mechanical item is hot-swappable between the 2 platforms.

if you are the modding type & just want a cheaper base platform to start with, the elise is probably the more appealing path. if you really like the exige styling & dont mind paying the extra premium for it, then there is nothing wrong with that route either. picking between the 2 will be a matter of personal preference & also long term goal.

5. based on what you mentioned thus far, it seems like the 07+ exige might be the best route for you... it'll come with the better performing packages out of the gate (unless you find a modded elise that fits your needs).

whatever path you choose to go, you wont regret it. both are capable of the same type of enjoyment

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 07:46 AM
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We recently lost a Lotus dealer in West Covina which had a good shop.

Some on here use the only remaining dealer - Galpin in the Valley.

The two Indy shops I know of are - A1 Auto (talk to Harry), and DRS, both highly recommend on here, both in east LA off the 605.

There's also a Lotus Club of So Cal which is worth joining.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for the help thus far! Any thoughts on pre purchase inspections/services for Lotuses?
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 06:36 AM
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Have you driven (or even ridden in) an Elise/Exige? They are unlike any other car (with the possible exception of the no-clutch-pedal Alfa 4C).

Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, etc. performance cars provide performance and comfort. The Elise/Exige literally have zero emphasis on comfort. The tiny interior will make your Corvette seem large and luxurious.

The Lotus will also seem slow if driven “normally,” i.e., if you shift at 4000 or 5000 rpm. The engine doesn't change to the aggressive cam until (I think) 6200 rpm- that's probably above the redline for your Corvette.

An analogy would be riding a superbike and shifting at 5000 rpm. It would be relatively slow, because the engine doesn't make much power at that “low” rpm.

With both the Lotus and your Corvette driven at 10/10ths, the Lotus would be faster. With both driven “normally,” the Lotus would be slower. The supercharger will help, but car is still peaky. The car doesn't ”feel” fast unless you really rev it.

If you do add a supercharger, CA is pretty strict. I think the factory system is CARB approved, not sure if any of the aftermarket ones are.

The car is VERY difficult to get in and out of, especially with the top on. I would think that in SoCal you would want an Elise so you can take the top off.

If your plans include a significant other regularly riding in the passenger seat, before buying a Lotus you should make sure the car isn't too rough/noisy/small for them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm 62 and love the car. I had a track version many years ago, and just recently bought a street version and drove it home from GA to OH via twisties in NC. But the car isn't for everyone.

Bottom line, go drive one before finalizing your plans to definitely buy one.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by centerpunch View Post
Have you driven (or even ridden in) an Elise/Exige? They are unlike any other car (with the possible exception of the no-clutch-pedal Alfa 4C).

Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, etc. performance cars provide performance and comfort. The Elise/Exige literally have zero emphasis on comfort. The tiny interior will make your Corvette seem large and luxurious.

The Lotus will also seem slow if driven “normally,” i.e., if you shift at 4000 or 5000 rpm. The engine doesn't change to the aggressive cam until (I think) 6200 rpm- that's probably above the redline for your Corvette.

An analogy would be riding a superbike and shifting at 5000 rpm. It would be relatively slow, because the engine doesn't make much power at that “low” rpm.

With both the Lotus and your Corvette driven at 10/10ths, the Lotus would be faster. With both driven “normally,” the Lotus would be slower. The supercharger will help, but car is still peaky. The car doesn't ”feel” fast unless you really rev it.

If you do add a supercharger, CA is pretty strict. I think the factory system is CARB approved, not sure if any of the aftermarket ones are.

The car is VERY difficult to get in and out of, especially with the top on. I would think that in SoCal you would want an Elise so you can take the top off.

If your plans include a significant other regularly riding in the passenger seat, before buying a Lotus you should make sure the car isn't too rough/noisy/small for them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm 62 and love the car. I had a track version many years ago, and just recently bought a street version and drove it home from GA to OH via twisties in NC. But the car isn't for everyone.

Bottom line, go drive one before finalizing your plans to definitely buy one.
This is good advice. Don't mean to hijack, but how did you get a 190? Did you buy it from Lotus USA new?

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 07:41 AM
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This is good advice. Don't mean to hijack, but how did you get a 190? Did you buy it from Lotus USA new?
Yes- I read that they were going to introduce that car (or maybe show it at a club event?) at a hotel in Atlanta, so I drove down, looked at the car, and ordered one. I met with Arnie, but the guy I dealt with was Don Heditsian, who I think later went to Ferrari and is now with Bentley.

At the time I did DE events with PCA and BMWCCA, and also with Brian Redman's Targa 66 group. I ended up getting track wheels and tires from the UK (no one in the US had the right sizes), and found an extra Rover tranny in the UK, had it shipped to Quaife, who installed close ratio crashbox gears (edit: I think they were straight cut gears, probably still with syncros). REALLY loud.

I drove the car on the street some, but pretty uncomfortable, no AC (duh!), etc. I didn't keep the car long, I really liked my other track car ('87 Porsche Turbo Cup) better.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 11:09 AM
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It is a good idea to test drive the car. The Elise is very tiny compared to other cars and that aspect alone could dissuade you from a purchase.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 11:54 AM
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Yes- I read that they were going to introduce that car (or maybe show it at a club event?) at a hotel in Atlanta, so I drove down, looked at the car, and ordered one. I met with Arnie, but the guy I dealt with was Don Heditsian, who I think later went to Ferrari and is now with Bentley.

At the time I did DE events with PCA and BMWCCA, and also with Brian Redman's Targa 66 group. I ended up getting track wheels and tires from the UK (no one in the US had the right sizes), and found an extra Rover tranny in the UK, had it shipped to Quaife, who installed close ratio crashbox gears (edit: I think they were straight cut gears, probably still with syncros). REALLY loud.

I drove the car on the street some, but pretty uncomfortable, no AC (duh!), etc. I didn't keep the car long, I really liked my other track car ('87 Porsche Turbo Cup) better.
.
Great story; thanks!

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 12:59 PM
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Yeah I am pretty sure I want a supercharger at somepoint, which is partially why I am interested in an Exige S240 or an Elise SC right from the get go.

Thanks for the recommendation on Inokinetic.
The Exige S will be capable of more power with the larger supercharger and intercooler compared to the Elise SC (smaller supercharger and no intercooler). My Exige S is at 281rwhp, which is 55rwhp more than it made stock (or what I was told was stock, could have had a tune). Aftermarket SC for the Elise would be preferred over the factory unit IMHO.

I had a C6 and then C7 Corvette. Traded the C7 in for a GT-R. Trust me, you'll want more than the stock power from an Elise or an Exige IMHO. I want more power, but to get where I'd like with the Exige I'd need to dump at least $20K into it.

You can PM me for contact information if you'd like further details.

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 01:46 PM
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The two Indy shops I know of are - A1 Auto (talk to Harry), and DRS, both highly recommend on here, both in east LA off the 605.
And Qais at South Bay Autohaus just off the 405 south of LAX.

Cheers.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 05:27 PM
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IMHO: the Elise is the best value. I prefer the looks of the Exige but the Elise can deliver better performance/$.

There are many great independent shops in SoCal. Several are listed above (including us ).

We have a really nice stock '05 yellow Elise with 19k miles that will be ready for sale soon. We are doing a full nut and bolt inspection and prep on it now. Of course we would be happy to upgrade it for you as well.

Call us to discuss any questions. (951)296-6762.

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Email or call (951)296-6762 us for advice. We will respond!
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-01-2017, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys again for all of the insight!

I do agree that the Elise/Exige are quite different from other cars that are out there. That's partially a reason for why I am interested in them...they really are one of a kind machine. The nice thing is that I will be hanging onto my C5 so I will still have a "practical" and powerful car still in the stable. The Elise interests me because Corvettes are already darn good at what they do, so to start beating them you have to get to cars that are double the price. Whereas the Elise/Exige are different animals all together, look exotic as hell, but won't completely break the bank.

Curious about what you guys think is the best approach to test driving one. Since these really aren't sold in dealerships too frequently I wouldn't want to waste a private sellers' time just to be like "nah I don't like Elise's"

Any thoughts?
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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 02:35 PM
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Thank you guys again for all of the insight!

I do agree that the Elise/Exige are quite different from other cars that are out there. That's partially a reason for why I am interested in them...they really are one of a kind machine. The nice thing is that I will be hanging onto my C5 so I will still have a "practical" and powerful car still in the stable. The Elise interests me because Corvettes are already darn good at what they do, so to start beating them you have to get to cars that are double the price. Whereas the Elise/Exige are different animals all together, look exotic as hell, but won't completely break the bank.

Curious about what you guys think is the best approach to test driving one. Since these really aren't sold in dealerships too frequently I wouldn't want to waste a private sellers' time just to be like "nah I don't like Elise's"

Any thoughts?
I'd ask on here if you can drive someone's car. I briefly considered getting an Evora earlier this year and was able to test drive one that way.

I am in Long Beach and have a stock 05 Elise in good condition. Only thing is it may be gong in the shop soon to replace the stock radiator (known weak spot). PM me (you'll need a certain number of posts) if you're interested.

05 Elise, ST, sports, touring, hardtop, DBA 4000 slotted discs, Ferodo DS2500 pads, Sector 111 gpan3, EP Tuning Quickrack, Pro Alloy rad, DS brace, HnT pad, front and rear tow hooks, CG lock, ORE double cup holder (caffeine for track); '86 911 Targa (sold); '68 MGB (being restored)
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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 02:56 PM
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I much prefer Elise. I have this quirk where I like seeing what's behind me.

So, if there's a price premium on the Exige (2 of which I've driven), I would not pay it.

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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by eaglerulez View Post
Thank you everyone for the help thus far! Any thoughts on pre purchase inspections/services for Lotuses?

Just so you know for the future, especially if you buy a Lotus. The plural of Lotus is Lotus. There is no such thing as Lotuses in the Lotus car world.
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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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I'd ask on here if you can drive someone's car. I briefly considered getting an Evora earlier this year and was able to test drive one that way.

I am in Long Beach and have a stock 05 Elise in good condition. Only thing is it may be gong in the shop soon to replace the stock radiator (known weak spot). PM me (you'll need a certain number of posts) if you're interested.

Craig, thank you! I actually went to school at CSULB. I will hit you up when the time comes to buy.
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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Just so you know for the future, especially if you buy a Lotus. The plural of Lotus is Lotus. There is no such thing as Lotuses in the Lotus car world.
Sorry about that! Thanks for the correction.
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