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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I'll be looking to purchase an Elise as I turn 50

No it won't be my daily driver, and I'm in good shape to get in and out

I'm a track day Instructor, and will be driving the car hard

$ wise, I'd like to purchase an older model (2004 first year for the Elise?) unless there's some "gotcha" where I'd want to buy a more current model?

What are the oldest one's selling for these days? Mid $20's?

Any opinions on the factory Ohlin suspension? Was that available on older models? If not, have others made do with other modifications and set ups to achieve more track orientated handling?

I'm okay with initial understeer, as long as the back will rotate willingly with throttle input ... if not, what are people doing to dial out understeer?
 

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2005 first model in the US.
I have seen some mid 20s car, in bad shape. I think you are looking at 28-32K for a good 05.
People use Nitrons, SACHS, Cup car suspensions, Teins, just too many to list.
 

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Hello all, I'll be looking to purchase an Elise as I turn 50

No it won't be my daily driver, and I'm in good shape to get in and out

I'm a track day Instructor, and will be driving the car hard

$ wise, I'd like to purchase an older model (2004 first year for the Elise?) unless there's some "gotcha" where I'd want to buy a more current model?

What are the oldest one's selling for these days? Mid $20's?

Any opinions on the factory Ohlin suspension? Was that available on older models? If not, have others made do with other modifications and set ups to achieve more track orientated handling?

I'm okay with initial understeer, as long as the back will rotate willingly with throttle input ... if not, what are people doing to dial out understeer?
There are lots of ways to dial out the understeer, do a search and you'll come up with a lot of posts.

This board is a gold mine for info - every conceivable mod has been done in detail.
 

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T...This board is a gold mine for info - every conceivable mod has been done in detail.
not every one... i'm working on the killer app: running the lotus without the need to start it.
 

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Hello all, I'll be looking to purchase
I'm okay with initial understeer, as long as the back will rotate willingly with throttle input ... if not, what are people doing to dial out understeer?

GTI-Guy - welcome to lotus land. Depending on the elise you buy, it will likely either have 175/55/16 or 195/50/16 front tires. If 175, upgrade them to 195, or even 205 (other's go even further) and your understeer will go away (or at least not be as pronounced). I added an adjustable stiffer front anti-roll bar, only to eventually softening up the setting to reduce understeer further, so I'm not so sure on its value just yet.

As for rotating the back, you can get it to rotate a bit on throttle liftoff at the apex, but it is a very sticky car and it is certainly not as easy to rotate this car at the stock power level as many others.

Hope this helps...

R Warden
 

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As for understeer...don't believe that myth.:no: If you have someone who really knows an Elise show you, understeer is not an issue if you distribute the weight of the car with good breaking into a turn and smooth acceleration out of one.:wave: If you push it outside the limits (yours and the car)...:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
GTI-Guy - welcome to lotus land. Depending on the elise you buy, it will likely either have 175/55/16 or 195/50/16 front tires. If 175, upgrade them to 195, or even 205 (other's go even further) and your understeer will go away (or at least not be as pronounced). I added an adjustable stiffer front anti-roll bar, only to eventually softening up the setting to reduce understeer further, so I'm not so sure on its value just yet.

As for rotating the back, you can get it to rotate a bit on throttle liftoff at the apex, but it is a very sticky car and it is certainly not as easy to rotate this car at the stock power level as many others.

Hope this helps...

R Warden
Good advice on the wider front rubber, yep, a solid approach. Note your rear sway bar reduces understeer rather than the front sway bar

As for understeer...don't believe that myth.:no: If you have someone who really knows an Elise show you, understeer is not an issue if you distribute the weight of the car with good breaking into a turn and smooth acceleration out of one.:wave: If you push it outside the limits (yours and the car)...:rolleyes:
Ah ... good input there ... so with some skillful trail braking, you can then rotate with the throttle and get it pointed to the apex, correct?
 

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I upgraded from base model to track suspension, 175 to 205 rubber up front, and added a splitter up front. Understeer was virtually absent and that which did remain probably attributable to street tires (Toyo's) as opposed to proper R-compounds. As others have said with trail-braking and maybe a quick brake stab to rotate the rear you can eliminate the rest.
My car sold for $32 K, BTW.
 

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No one mentioned shims yet, so I'll toss that out there...
 

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note: we have no rear sway bar on these cars so you cannot stiffen it to remove understeer.

I have been fighting understeer for some time now. For starters, The LSD is known to induce understeer on exit.

My recent change is minimizing the rear toe to 1/32" I'll see how that does in a couple weeks at the track.

This is also with stock sport suspension so I have no suspension adjustments that can be made.

Also keep in mind that we are really splitting hairs when it comes to the handling. These cars are wonderfully balanced and controllable. If you are at the level to instruct with the car then you should have no issue getting the car to rotate but there is still the potential for some slight understeer on corner exit
 

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With 195s up front. Shim removal and an alignment should cure any excessive understeer.
 

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GTI-Guy - welcome to lotus land. Depending on the elise you buy, it will likely either have 175/55/16 or 195/50/16 front tires. If 175, upgrade them to 195, or even 205 (other's go even further) and your understeer will go away (or at least not be as pronounced). I added an adjustable stiffer front anti-roll bar, only to eventually softening up the setting to reduce understeer further, so I'm not so sure on its value just yet.

As for rotating the back, you can get it to rotate a bit on throttle liftoff at the apex, but it is a very sticky car and it is certainly not as easy to rotate this car at the stock power level as many others.

Hope this helps...

R Warden
Ditto!
 

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note: we have no rear sway bar on these cars so you cannot stiffen it to remove understeer.

I have been fighting understeer for some time now. For starters, The LSD is known to induce understeer on exit.

Also keep in mind that we are really splitting hairs when it comes to the handling. These cars are wonderfully balanced and controllable. If you are at the level to instruct with the car then you should have no issue getting the car to rotate but there is still the potential for some slight understeer on corner exit
+1. This car handles well like no other I've driven.

I'm about to install a clutch based LSD, as I spin the inside tire under power with the SC. ... I hope it doesn't upset the balance. If so, it may come out.

-R Warden
 

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note: we have no rear sway bar on these cars so you cannot stiffen it to remove understeer.
If you have a car with the track pack, you can loosen the front sway to get rid of some understeer.
 

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With the stock 190HP, and with DOT R compounds, the car will only rotate under power, at least in third gear, if you're VERY near the edge of lateral traction already. In second gear and especially once up on the second cam, it's a little bit easier, but still you've got to be really hard into a turn already. It gets easier if there is a bit of crest on turn exit that will unload the rear end of course, but that's true of all rear wheel drive cars I guess.

Although it's very difficult to actually kick the rear end around, getting hard on the throttle will make the car tuck down and take a tighter line a bit better than half throttle will.

It's easy (since you're instructer level already) to rotate the car as you like during trail braking somewhat prior to an apex, then easing the throttle back in and full steam ahead a bit before apex.

The above described behaviour applies to my car, which has had the camber shims completely removed.

xtn (just into third level (out of four with my local DE club) and just getting good enough to explore these behaviours in a controlled fashion instead of exploring them on accident and suffering the consequenses as I did last year) :evil::evil::evil:
 

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Ohlins were not a factory option until very recently, though are available aftermarket for the '05+. You might want to consider a car with the sport pack (LSS) for its lighter wheels already sized for wider rubber up front to reduce understeer (which really isn't that bad to begin with).

ALL early 2005 Elises had dual oil coolers up front; at some point mid-year they changed that so base suspension cars had only one (LSS retained the second cooler). I doubt it's a big deal but for your driving that'd be something to look for if looking at a non-LSS car. There's no good way to know other than to peek in each front small side grill and see if you see one on each side of the car.
 

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I have done lots of stuff to my car so here is my .02.

The base suspension cars come with 175 wide tires on 5.5 inch wheels. That tire is the only one on earth that will fit and is the same OD. It is expensive, heat cycles quickly, and promotes understeer since the width differential is so different from the rear. Removing the camber shims up front helps, but probably not enough if you are looking at serious understeer. You will probably be OK if the tires are the same age but if the rears are newer (which they will be because they only last 7k miles) then the fronts will be more heat cycled than the new rears and understeer will be unstoppable. The base wheels arent all bad though because they are free on base cars and make it easier to justify getting track wheels and R compound track tires. Therefore, base wheels and tires for street driving and track stuff for the track. Personally, I bought some used 15"/16" Rotas with Toyo tires. That combination is light, cheap, and probably the tire choice that is least sensitive to heat cycling.

You could buy a sport suspension car and get 195 tires up front with 6.5 inch wheels. That should pretty much stop understeer but the ride sucks, the tires are even more expensive, and you will be motivated to use the same setup for street and track.

The stock Bilstein dampers are quite nice so I wouldnt recommend replacing them until you have convinced yourself that you want something different and you know what you really want. Since most people dont have a clue about damper tuning, I think most have spent money needlessly. Personally, I damaged my Bilsteins when I lowered the car (make sure the fingers on your spring compressor arent so clunky that they dent the damper tube as you compress the spring....doh!!!) so I bought some used double adjustable Ohlins this winter. Will be installing them soon. I have already had them dynoed so it will be interesting to see how they drive.

My car had a huge amount of rear toe in. It drove kind of numb and unresponsive. I cut the toe in in half and that really livened up the rear at turn in. When I put my suspension back together in the next few weeks, I will adjust the rear to zero toe. Personally I like a car that is lively, a bit twitchy, and is very fast to rotate. My first toe change was very effective, so zero toe should be perfect to maybe a little too much. Reducing the toe also helps with rear tire wear.

Hope that helps.

Tony
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Men ... thanks for all the detailed, thorough responses, you guys are a pleasure versus the usual superficial responses from other forums I've participated in!

Still digesting this in, but some quick questions ... what does the LSS sport handling package include? I thought the Ohlin set up was a separate option?

I agree, with both-way adjustable Ohlins adjusted differently front versus rear, the understeer could be dialed out to a large degree

No rear sway bar? I guess no room with the engine back there?

I would have separate wheels & tires for street versus track, so the LSS may not be an issue for me, but it is if the car I'd be considering doesn't have the dual oil cooler set up ... also depends on what else the LSS package includes

Sorry for the newbie questions of option packages, and I'm sure there's some juicy thread on that somewhere, but you know how that goes when you're typing on your lap at the airport!
 

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GTI-Guy, WELCOME! Glad to see another track driver with an Elise.

Regarding understeer: Not an issue. The car's default settings are pretty conservative (ie: understeer), but simply removing the front camber shims will take care of that. I run with the base suspension and have no understeer issues at all. The car balances absolutely perfectly through corners using trailbraking.
 
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