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Discussion Starter #1
From the BaT thread, I see that many people here have purchased an Elise without a PPI. These people have established good relationships with the sellars as well as have their own knowledge to draw on to reduce the risk of a bad purchase.

One poster brought up the a bad chassis or damaged chassis could make a purchase (metaphorically) fatal, as it is likely not repairable.

My question is: can chassis damage be hidden? Not by the seller, but since the chassis is covered by the clams, there could be damage not visible and be observable by the buyer. Can this damage then be non detectable by a test drive? Is there a substantial risk that you can buy a car that drives perfectly to your satisfaction but then later, find that the chassis has severe and not repairable damage?

Thank you for your advice.
 

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It is usually the lower suspension mounts that get tweaked anything is possible but I would think more than 90 percent of drivable chassis damage is visible assembled
Someone could have dropped a tree on it and replaced the doors or bent the rear suspension subframe and replaced it leaving damaged attachments but that is pretty slim
 

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2005 Elise LSS Saffron Yellow
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The car is an aluminum semi-monocoque tub with a fiberglass body bolted to it. You can easily see all the suspension mounting points, and aluminum extrusions have a surface finish that is difficult to duplicate after a repair. The rear subframe is conventional bent and welded sheet steel--much more easily repairable, but also more easily replaced with an unmolested part if you feel the need.

I'd say that if you've ever looked at a car of similar model in good shape, you would immediately notice something different about a car with a questionable repair, say if somebody'd painted the chassis in a front wheel well for instance. That would lead to a more careful look at the suspension mount points on that side, and a look at the bodywork attachments and bodywork in that area for signs of fiberglass replacement or repair.

For all the aluminum tub Lotuses are different, and thus exotic, they're neither inherently fragile (other than the bodywork) nor are they complex enough to easily hide damage from a careful eye. Frankly, a modern welded sheet steel unit body is much harder to inspect because of multiple layers of metal welded together that can hide a lot of damage and repairs. On a Lotus it's all pretty out in the breeze, and you can spot anything questionable just by putting the car on a lift and having a careful look, or even just by looking carefully into the wheel wells.

All of that said, i'm presuming a certain level of knowledge of what 'normal' looks like on the part of the examiner. If you don't have that, then get a PPI, particularly if the price is unusually good or the provenance is not crystal clear.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The car is an aluminum semi-monocoque tub with a fiberglass body bolted to it. You can easily see all the suspension mounting points, and aluminum extrusions have a surface finish that is difficult to duplicate after a repair. The rear subframe is conventional bent and welded sheet steel--much more easily repairable, but also more easily replaced with an unmolested part if you feel the need.

I'd say that if you've ever looked at a car of similar model in good shape, you would immediately notice something different about a car with a questionable repair, say if somebody'd painted the chassis in a front wheel well for instance. That would lead to a more careful look at the suspension mount points on that side, and a look at the bodywork attachments and bodywork in that area for signs of fiberglass replacement or repair.

For all the aluminum tub Lotuses are different, and thus exotic, they're neither inherently fragile (other than the bodywork) nor are they complex enough to easily hide damage from a careful eye. Frankly, a modern welded sheet steel unit body is much harder to inspect because of multiple layers of metal welded together that can hide a lot of damage and repairs. On a Lotus it's all pretty out in the breeze, and you can spot anything questionable just by putting the car on a lift and having a careful look, or even just by looking carefully into the wheel wells.

All of that said, i'm presuming a certain level of knowledge of what 'normal' looks like on the part of the examiner. If you don't have that, then get a PPI, particularly if the price is unusually good or the provenance is not crystal clear.

Thank you very much for your reply. Another poster seemed to indicate that chassis damage would most likely be hidden from sight unless the clams are off. I understand what you are saying above and can recognize that a good portion of the chassis is actually exposed on the inside of the car. I'd love to PPI the cars that I'm interested in, but sometimes that is not feasible.
 

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Personally, I would at least have the car on the lift if possible and look for any bends or something not lining up. If not possible then usually you can tell by driving if something is off under hard cornering.
 
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