I haven't seen it posted yet so I wanted to let you know that there's now a Lotus Dealer in Orange County, California after an absence of around a year. The new dealer is called Newport European Motorcars, Ltd. and they're in Costa Mesa. The prior dealership was closed due to some unfortunate issues reportedly revolving around law enforcement, controlled substances, and movement of cash. Also, they had fairly crummy customer relations (based upon my experience).
The new dealership, although located in the same spot on Harbor Blvd., have no connection with the prior guys and they are adament about that. They are affiliated with Desert Motorcars (or similar name) out of Palm Springs and they are dealers of Lotus and Rolls Royce, but they also currently have some Maseratis and Ferraris in the showroom (the latter may be "pre-owned"). I understand they've been there almost 2 months now.
They're accepting deposits on the U.S. version of the Elise, and according to the Manager, Vance Alison, they've taken about 5 or 6 so far.
They currently have the yellow Euro-spec version of the Elise that is floating around, and Vance was very kind to offer me a test-drive in it. This was the second time that I've been able to drive the car, and to sum it up, it's only reinforced to me what all the fuss is about - there's simply nothing else out there, in this kind of price range at least, that delivers the kind of raw, unaldulterated kick-ass fun that the Elise gives ! Even in lunchtime traffic on city streets, the thing is just so direct and visceral in some weird way that it induces stupid, sh*&-eating grins all-around.
A few more observations: This was the first time that I've had to get in and out of the Elise with the top on, and I do have to say that it's going to take some practice - getting in isn't that hard, but exiting the car with any grace and dignity at all is challenging for the novice. And I'm a relatively short guy (5'8" or so and around 155 lb.) who tries to stay fit and limber ! The Elise should keep me flexible, anyway
Also, I was happy to hear the dealer reinforce what I'd already heard elsewhere - that the U.S. version will be screwed together a bit tighter than the test car, as the body panel shake is definitely noticeable. Regardless, the car looks amazing, IMO, and it definitely gets lots of attention from bystanders, so you'd better be prepared (clean shirt, and no picking of the nose - not that any of us would do that anyway !)