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Elise Alternatives?

3918 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Amahoser
Been contemplating my descision on buying the Elise. Namely, I'm worried about the car becoming too americanized and that a sports type version is gonna cost more $$. I have NEVER spent more than 8 grand on a vehicle... Its not that I can't afford it, I just never had any intrest on purchasing a new car. No car has excited me enough to buy new.... 'till the Elise that is....

Ok here's my question. I'm trying to find other cars out there that are lightweight, with exceptional handling and reasonably affordable (under $40k). This is what I found so far:

Vintage Spyder's 550 Spyder replica. Good handling, lightweight (~1200 lbs) and can have around 200hp. Priced in the mid 20's.

WCM Ultralight - a modern Lotus Seven with a variety of motor configs from a 1800cc Miata Motor, a 175hp Hyabusa Motor to a 240hp Honda S2000 motor! Priced from mid 20's to mid 30's.

Anyone have any other suggestions?? I'm looking for a street car that I can drive to the track and kick ass. The emphasis should be on track and not street... I honestly don't want to modify the car too much... just basics as I've done that to too many of my previous cars...

Jose Soriano
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My main thought would be to wait and get more official data before making a decision.

I think the Vintage Spyder is a different market.

Q - What size wheels can I put on the car?
A - 15 X 4.5 Front, 15 X 5.5 Rear

Q - How water proof is the soft-top?
A - 80%

And styling is of course subjective, but they don't come close to the Elise.
There are many, many manufacturers of Seven clones, including Caterham, the original coachmaker for the Seven. I've seen a few Ginetta clones advertised in the pages of Grassroots Motorsports magazine. In fact, they did a big kit car comparison article this year. You should try to get the back issue. Many ads in addition to the article.

Also a kit car but with a different angle is the Factory Five Cobra. Weighing in at around 2000 pounds with a Ford 305cid engine in any state of tune you choose, including supercharged. They have an independent rear suspension option as well.

Getting away from the kit car scene, there is the MR2 Spyder. Rumor has it that it will come with a limited slip differential next year, which should cure the inside wheelspin that currently plagues it. 2200 pounds complete with all the amenities...A/C, ABS, stereo. It might be tricky to find a track-legal rollbar for it, due to the way the top folds.

Since you looked at kit cars, you might also look into already-built race cars. I know someone who is selling a Europa equipped with a Mazda rotary engine and Porsche transmission for around $11k. It's not currently registered for street use, but it probably could be.
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I like the Seven replicas. One would have to feel comfortable driving it on the street though. Personal call. I don't think I would, though I love the concept.

If you are interested in the Spyder, also check out Beck which makes a nice 550 replica.

There is also the Attack.
Had a Caterham HPC (vauxhall 2 liter 175 hp). which was a blast to drive. I can say it was horrible to drive more than 150 miles at a stretch, but great for blasting around town!

One reason why the Elise appeals to me. Feel of the Caterham with more modern looks, and reasonably comfortable.

You should be able to get a caterham for well under 40k depending on what goodies you want.

Keep in mind, dealer support is nonexistent and the Caterham dealers/importers come and go almost as frequently as the seasons. Also, I'm told registering a Caterham for the road can be a hassle, though mine came with a title when I bought it.

buy a used S2000, take all the interior trim and other fluff out. You can get it to around 2400lbs. Throw on some coilovers and slicks and you will have an incredibly fun fast track car that has no problem being registered or driven on the street.

Interesting. Looks like the Pontiac Solstice will be a go. 2 seater, front engined, RWD. Ecotec engine. Expect an annoucement at the Detroit autoshow.
Solstice derrivative is supposed to become VX220 replacement.
And *that* is precisely why the new Elise will likely have a V6 option. It's starting to gain some competition (aforementioned, as well as things like the tiny VW roadster), and having more cylinders than the others seems to be an important thing when selling a car in the US.
I'll definatley wait untill we get more info but this is what happens when they give me way too much time to decide!

I went to Thunder Ranch down in El Cajon to check out their 550 Spyder replicas and I have to say that I am very impressed. They make the 550 Spyder based on Chuck Beck's design. However, they have a couple of intersting variants. The 550A is a basic Syder with a slightly wider body designed to accept 6" wide fronts and 7" wide rear tires! They also make a Porsche RSK replica! The RSK is the racing variant of the 550 Spyder. They use a modified Chuck Beck 550 chassis and it also uses the 6" front and 7" rear wheels. The RSK has my intrest as I have always loved the way the car looks.

As for the Spyders not being in the same league... well, they do use Volkwagen Beetle suspension so the technology is 1960's but.... The standard 550 Spyder uses:
- Tires: Michelin 165XZX-15 front. 205MXV-15 rear.
- does .96 g's on the skidpad with those non-race tires!

the wider bodied 550A or RSK should be better!

Motor options include 115hp 1915cc motor up to anything you want! I'll prolly end up with 150-180hp.... if i get it, that is. Not bad for 1200 lbs! I've seen them run at Streets of Willow And the Big track and they are impressive.

As for the WCM Ultralite or other Seven clones, If I decide for sure that I won't get the Elise, I'll make a trip to Texas to check them out. Funny how the Elise looks like a practical car next to a Seven clone! Hehehe! But I don't care about practicality.... I have a daily driver for that. I just want a Bang for buck, unique, lightweight sportscar that'll outhandle anything on the road!

Any other thoughts?

Jose Soriano
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