Having an Elise in Michigan - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
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Having an Elise in Michigan

Hello All,

I'm seriously considering trying to buy an Elise but one of the stumbling blocks that keeps coming up in my mind is the fact that I live in Michigan. For those of you who have never been here, the roads are beyond awful. I mean really bad. I've traveled the world for the past 25 years for my job, going deep into tiny villages in Asia and have never seen roads anywhere near as bad as in Michigan. They are appalling. I've lost 3 tires in the 2 years I've lived here. It has to be seen to be believed.

So given that, how do I reconcile my dream car now that I can afford one with the fact that it will be very hard to even enjoy the vehicle on these terrible roads? Should I be realistic and just understand that buying an Elise is not a wise decision? I've seen one or two Elises on the road but not for a year or two. This problem has me deeply conflicted.

Thank you for your advice.
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 03:14 AM
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I would add a suspension upgrade to my Elise budget..Penske, Nitron, etc.

"In general, the Elise will be kept in best operating condition by regular use."
Page 152 Lotus Elise owner's manual
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 03:16 AM
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There are people all across Michigan who have Elises.

I don't think your worries will manifest as strongly as you anticipate.

Mostly, the car is small enough that I can drive around potholes without even leaving my lane in the road. Otherwise, I've become familiar with the shock bump stops.
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 03:44 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Obeisance View Post
There are people all across Michigan who have Elises.

I don't think your worries will manifest as strongly as you anticipate.

Mostly, the car is small enough that I can drive around potholes without even leaving my lane in the road. Otherwise, I've become familiar with the shock bump stops.
Understood, but if you are constantly driving around pot holes, ones that are easily large enough to disable a vehicle, is most of the pleasure in owning such a car lost?
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 03:58 AM
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I guess that depends on what the car will be for you.

For me, the car has been a great electronics project, a good road trip car, and a fun cruiser when I make time to drive all the way to the fun roads in Hell and Pinckney or around the lakes north of West Bloomfield.

The pothole dodging hasn't really been much of a distraction... it's only occasionally shocking when I misjudge the severity of a hole or fail to dodge one and hear the impact sound- it's like someone hits the car with a hammer.

If I don't pay enough attention to the road conditions, its kind of exciting when the front end bounces toward the outside of a corner or the abs switches to ice mode as i bounce toward a stop light.

The largest thing about the potholes is that I just have to keep paying attention to the road conditions. but this is true regardless of location when driving the elise; gravel in the road, animals and roadkill are all hazards that are more severe in this car than in my wrx.

edit: although Auto Europe, Michigan's only Lotus dealer, is right up the street from my house, i do as much service myself as i can. the car is really accessable.

Last edited by Obeisance; 02-21-2019 at 01:40 PM.
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 04:16 AM Thread Starter
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I guess that depends on what the car will be for you.

For me, the car has been a great electronics project, a good road trip car, and a fun cruiser when I make time to drive all the way to the fun roads in Hell and Pinckney or around the lakes north of West Bloomfield.

The pothole dodging hasn't really been much of a distraction... it's only occasionally shocking when I misjudge the severity of a hole or fail to dodge one and hear the impact sound- it's like someone hits the car with a hammer.

If I don't pay enough attention to the road conditions, its kind of exciting when the front end bounces toward the outside of a corner or the abs switches to ice mode as i bounce toward a stop light.

The largest thing about the potholes is that I just have to keep paying attention to the road conditions. but this is true regardless of location when driving the elise; gravel in the road, animals and roadkill are all hazards that are more severe in this car than in my wrx.
Thank you for your feedback. Where do you get your Lotus serviced in Michigan when it needs it?
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 04:27 AM
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I wholeheartedly disagree with Obeisance, and we've joked about this before. I simply never drove my Elise when I lived in Michigan. I also drove around West Bloomfield like he said and it was miserable. The only way to enjoy the car in Michigan is to drive to other states on the weekends (like SE Ohio or WV) or do a track day. If you never have really driven the car in its element, maybe the novelty of a really awesome grocery getter will be sufficient, but once you tear around proper mountains or a track, 25mph around a bunch of potholes just isn't fun.

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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 05:16 AM
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Having previously lived in Michigan for 28 years, I have to - in part - agree with cyow5. The spirit of the Elige is best experienced on a canyon road or racetrack. Michigan has a lot of straight lines and you'll be disappointed if you want to race Joe Blow off the line in his blown V8. That said, you're on this forum so you probably already knew that.

To contrast this, I never let living in Michigan dictate the pursuit of my interests. If your lifetime dream car is an Elise, GET ONE! You'll find a way to enjoy it; whether that's tinkering, taking it to car shows, or just scooting around town. I'm loving my purchase (albeit still fresh) and would undoubtedly bring it with me if I ever moved back to Michigan.

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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 05:23 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate all points of view, so thank you very much.
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 06:12 AM
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To contrast this, I never let living in Michigan dictate the pursuit of my interests. If your lifetime dream car is an Elise, GET ONE! You'll find a way to enjoy it; whether that's tinkering, taking it to car shows, or just scooting around town. I'm loving my purchase (albeit still fresh) and would undoubtedly bring it with me if I ever moved back to Michigan.
Yeah, I wasn't being facetious or insulting when I said "maybe the novelty of a really awesome grocery getter will be sufficient". I have heard it said before that it is better to get groceries in a Lotus than in a boring car, and for some owners, that really is the joy of owning a Lotus. For that reason though, The Evora might be a better fit since you still get the novelty but with more civilized manners. Slap on a BOE supercharger, and you'll also have something that can teach some of the V8s a physics lesson

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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 07:06 AM
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My Elise was in Ohio and the metro Chicago area before it found its way south. I wouldn't have bought it if it had a lot of corrosion damage, but it does have some, as it was obviously driven on salted roads a couple of times. The suspension components, etc don't respond especially well to this, and you don't really know what has happened until you start taking things apart. I discovered a little light corrosion under the washers on the diffuser, for instance. Whoever it was who put it together last time apparently didn't understand dissimilar metal corrosion treatment.

Anyway, a Lotus is quite nimble and small, so it's not hard to dodge potholes in one. I would, however, avoid any road until after the first heavy rain at the end of salt season, or at least be aware that getting chloride on the car is going to make work for you later, so you get to weigh the value of that early spring drive against the damage that will occur.

I must admit that actually using the car is a big part of its appeal to me. I enjoy working on cars, and I enjoy driving cars. I don't enjoy looking at my parked cars waiting to be driven. It was always the plan that the Elise would be driven as much as was vaguely practical. It has been to the grocery store, I've taken it camping, it delivers a kid to school, and me to work. It will be going to track days (possibly sooner than I initially planned because it turns out to be pretty prepped already), but its purpose is to be a fun runabout, and that's what I use it for. I've scuffed the front clam on a driveway once, have gotten mud on it, and expect to do more of the same in future. My one big fear is a rock hit on the windshield (had this happen on both of the DDs in the last 10 years), but I didn't buy the car for it to sit unused in fear of being damaged.
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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 08:50 AM
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Hello fellow Michigander. As someone who has an Elise and lives in Michigan, all your trepidation is quite valid. To be frank, it makes no sense to have an Elise in Michigan. The roads are terrible both in condition and for fun. It's huge straight-roaded grid system pecked with potholes and obstacles that you have to endure for 30 minutes at a time to get anywhere. The closest thing to a nice curvy road we have are small sections around the lakes in West Bloomfield or down near Chelsea and Hell. I don't even get to drive my car for 6 months out of the year because of winter and salt and general nastiness.

But then every spring when I fire up the car for the first time...it's a feeling that's hard to beat. The car's so different from anything else out there that it makes it kind of an event when you do drive it. It seems like people in Michigan really try to make the most of the summer and warm weather, and this car just feels like a physical manifestation of that. You've got to plan out your drives sometimes to take the long way around potholes or to find a road with a turn or two in it. But that's kind of the experience with the car. It's completely unreasonable and we're all insane for wanting it, but somehow that brings us joy.

Another nice thing we've got up here is a good community and many opportunities if you decide to do some Autocrossing or open track days. A day at Waterford Hills or a trip out to Gingerman will make you realize why you bought the car in the first place.
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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 09:23 AM
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I hate misjudging potholes as well. It really is jarring, even small imperfections in road surface seem to be amplified in these cars. Someone in a thread had a passenger in the car ask if it even had a suspension.

None of that matters really on a nice summer drive. I was trying to gauge how bad they can be, and when someone suggested roads in WVA would be enjoyable, my jaw dropped.

I lived in WVA as a kid and I still remember how bad those roads were. ( long before I ever drove a car)

Wow... That is b a d

Just the same, these are track cars to start with, and of course the impracticability is also legend. Sure did'nt stop me. Like that video where the gentlemen says the way to sell a LOTUS is harp about the impractability and the typical Lotus buyer can't make it rain fast enough on the salesman... Get it man. I also agree it's as fun ( for me) to tinker with as it is to drive, ( but I have gotten older...) Peacb

L O T U S
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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 11:02 AM
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Are the potholes in Michigan as bad as those in Labrador, Canada?
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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies everyone. I'm not sure how helpful they were for me because some replies allayed my concern while others increased it! It's a very emotional car for sure!

Thanks David for the photo on the state of Michigan roads. Very very accurate. The roads by my home are almost undrivable in places. As I said earlier, I have lost several tires to hitting potholes. The roads here are also not very well lit at night so sometimes a pot hole can show up very quickly. You can't imagine how bad they are until you actually see them for yourself.
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post #16 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 12:04 PM
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Sounds like your dream car should be a 4WD Ford Raptor truck with a lift kit
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post #17 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 02:15 PM
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My 2005 Elise came from Novi, Michigan. Not sure if roads are also bad there? Anyways, if you do decide on buying an Elise, I would advise getting a later model, as 2005's have the most uncomfortable seats.

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post #18 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 02:33 PM
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I used to live in SE Michigan. There are places you can wind out a sports car, but it's not ideal.

My two cents is only get one if this is going to be a third or fourth car for you for the summer months, and you have a place to garage it (or a shop that will store it) for the winter.
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post #19 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 04:51 PM
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I live in Ann Arbor. Had an Elise for 7 years and daily drove it when there was no salt on the roads. Every drive was an Event. Yes you have to be careful. You learn that potholes are often found where trees cover the road, for example. There are some good rides near AA. Lots of helpful folks around. I wouldn't have missed owning an Elise...what a car. I daily an Evora S now and still miss the Eliise after about 3 years.
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post #20 of 38 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 05:23 PM
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Having an Elise in Michigan

Unless itís going to be a primarily track/auto cross car, I would definitely rethink. Even with good suspension, this is not a vehicle that handles potholes well by any stretch of the imagination. The short wheelbase and relative fragility donít help. It needs smooth twisty roads or a track to truly be enjoyed. Here in CT, I have access to both, and only drive it for fun, so it makes sense.

If I were you, Iíd look at something like a Cayman or Corvette. Iíve had all of the above and they handle bad roads much better. I was always impressed by the ride and handling balance of modern Corvettes. A C5 Z06 is a tremendous car and a bargain right now. Lots of torque to keep you entertained on the those straight roads.
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