early last year I bought a 08 Elise SC in UK and imported it to Switzerland. I instantly fell in love with the legendary Lotus handling, but for my taste some other things about this car were simply not adequate for a genuine sportscar of this class. In other words I bet not all details on an Elise are the result of Colins philosophy of lightness. If money (and production feasibility) would not matter any stock Elise would sure use higher quality components in many areas and that's what I wanted to improve. What started with only a few mild modifications turned into a complete makeover of my Elise during the course of almost one year.
As bit of background info about this project, I mainly plan to use my Elise as fun ride for weekend tours through the windy mountainroads where I live. I will also take it on occassional trackdays, but let's say about 95% of my driving will be on public roads so I'd like my Elise to be somewhat comfortable inside. Tastes differ of course but I always liked the full leather interior of the Europa S and I wanted it to be all black.
When I bought my Elise it was blue and RHD. We took it apart completely, repainted it Phantom Black and used this chance to clean the unsightly production slits on the front and rear clam (the ones the Exige doesn't have). We converted it to LHD, lowered it with Eibach springs, replaced the plastic grills with mesh grills all around, installed black tinted Ferrari sidemarkers on quarter panels (the tiny round ones) and added some other nice details such as black logos, a front spoiler, CF mirrors etc.
Next was the engine bay where we put in a Radium aluminium coolant tank, powdercoated the valve cover, painted the engine "beauty covers", added a black washerbottle and billet caps, full Larini exhaust system with headers, sport cat and clubsport muffler, an Odyssey drycell battery, engine hood damper and some other goodies. The next step will be a supercharger upgrade to BOE or VF and a new tune as I am aiming for 280-300 rwhp, but for the moment I am just happy with what we already got done.
Finally we took care of the interior with a complete new leather upholstery made of genuine "Beluga Black" Bentley leather. Almost every part inside this Elise got leather wrapped including the dash, complete floor, doors, firewall, pillars, hardtop, center console... even the floormats are Bentley leather now!
The stitching pattern on the seats, doorpanels and hardtop is actually inspired by that from a Bugatti Veyron. We removed the sunshades, added a micro mirror and tinted the rear window (good for nothing but I like the looks
). An especially nice glovebox cover from Lotushii got installed and leather wrapped as well. To top this off we added plenty of nice carbon parts. The doorsills, doorhandles, dash vents, heater console, rear center console, steering column, steering wheel ring, airbag cover and instrument cowl are all CF now. Anodized aluminium arms for lights and wiper replaced the plastic stock ones. Same goes for the handbrake handle. The goal was to remove all the cheap plastic from the interior. Leather, carbon and metal should be the only visible materials. A huge thanks to Charles aka HKFever at this point, as many of these awesome carbon parts are his work. He also sent me a pair of beautiful CF side skirts, which I will install in the coming days. Later on a Difflow 5 element diffuser will add the finishing touches in terms of ground effects.
As I wasn't too happy with the stock Alpine sound system, we replaced it with a brandnew Pioneer moniceiver (MVH-8300BT 1Din) and four Pioneer speakers. The rearspeakers get powered by a Rockford Fosgate Punch 4way micro amp behind the passenger seat, which also fuels a Rockford Fosgate Punch subwoofer sitting in a carbon enclosure between the seats. To reduce exterior noise we insulated the complete Elise with Zealum ZN-Finish noise insulation. After a first testdrive I can say that this really upgrades the driving experience and makes the Elise feel more like a real car and less like a gokart. Stones hitting the underfloor and wind noises at higher speeds are much less of an issue now, same as the exhaust noise at higher RPMs (the Larini clubsport with headers is LOUD).
Don't ask how much all of this cost me, but the result looks, sounds and feels awesome and was definitely worth all the effort.