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Hey guys, my name is Alex. Currently, I own an E92 335i. Lots of mods, lots of time spent on the forums, you all know how that goes. Well, it's been four years spent with the car and it's time for something new. I'm HIGHLY considering an Elise/Exige. I have a few questions I haven't seen answered directly, hoping you all wouldn't mind helping a noob out. I really want a car that's not super expensive to maintain out of warranty. I feel like the 2ZZ in the lotus SHOULD be reasonable, but that's why I'm here to ask questions.

1. Are there things I HAVE to go to the dealer for? Can I get away with doing most things myself?

2. How many parts swap over from a Celica or Corolla 2ZZ, as far as drivetrain goes? If I need to get something repaired, is it going to murder my pocket? Can I get the parts off a Celica/Corolla? I don't want to spend a lot of money on parts. For example, an OEM O2 sensor from the dealer for my 335i was $300, I'm looking to avoid obnoxious charges like this. The 2ZZ is attractive because it's a Toyota motor. Theoretically, it should be cheap to fix.

3. What packages should I be sure to get? As far as I know, there is a sport package, track package, and touring package. Which of these can you not live without?

4. What are some things I can look for to find signs of abuse? I would like a well maintained car, that gets frequent oil changes. I want a car that will treat me well, if I treat it well (unlike my current car).

Thanks so much for the help! :coolnana:
 

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1. I have not had to go to the dealer for anything in 5 years of ownership. I do all the work myself and I order parts online if I need them.

2. You can to some extent. Pretty much anything on the engine and transmission you can go to a Toyota dealership and say you need parts for a 2003 Celica GTS. This is what I do at a local Toyota dealership. Once you get off the engine and transmission its gets a little more tricky. For instance the header is a stock Toyota parts but after that its Lotus stuff. The O2 sensor is Lotus, which I did buy from Lotus before and it was only like $130 or something, but with the last one I bought a universal Bosch and spliced it in for about half the price. Once you get to body, no its nothing Toyota, its mostly weird odds and ends from car companies that were never sold here, so you have to go through Lotus....but see point #4 for some relief.

3. Bought mine used. Mine had everything. I like it. The leather, the harness bar, the limited slip, traction control. I don't need most of it, but it makes me feel like I got a nicer car.

4. Luckily there just isn't much to break on an Elise/Exige (helps with point #1). My car did nothing BUT track days for 6 months before I got it and it hasn't given me any problems. Mostly you'll want to look for body damage, and how well the interior has held up. The seats aren't meant for fat Americans so my drivers seat has some wear on the side bolsters. The cloth liner on the hardtop is just starting to peel (I don't smoke and car spends very very little time in the Sun).


For you coming from a 335i I would say look at the supercharged models. The 2005 & 2006 models will feel flat to you. An Elise needs about 240HP at the wheels to have more straight line acceleration then a 335i. Trust me, I know, they put up a good fight.
 

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1. I've owned my car for 3 years, done a completely engine/tranny swap (stock to stock), gutted my interior, swapped the seats, suspension, etc. etc. etc. I'm by no means a mechanic - so in short no, so long as you're willing to dive in and get your hands dirty.

2. I believe not many, only the Celica GT-S (and one other I forget which) share the 2ZZ-GE and then I believe the tranny is different (but don't quote me there). I bought a replacement motor/tranny for - $6k. Total. With 8 miles on it. So yes, cheap to fix.

3. Depends on what you want to do - track or street car? Really in short either way you probably want track and touring (track is upgraded coilovers, etc. and touring is carpet/power windows, etc)

4. Most are pretty easy to spot as the cars are so small/simple. Look at standard stuff like how the interior was maintained and if the previous owner has any documentation on stuff done to it. That however shouldn't throw you off - I don't keep that stuff around personally as A. I don't care and B. I've done so much to my car the stack would be a mile high.

The biggest question is are you getting rid of the 335i for the Elige? I instruct with the BMW club so I drive a lot of students 335s and they are entirely different beasts. You will most likely miss the straight line acceleration as the Elige (in stock, non-supercharged form) is actually sorta slow 0-60. If however you're taking it for track days you're in for a world of fun compared to the 335i (which will feel huge and heavy in comparison).

The biggest advice I give to people considering these cars is to think about how you're going to use it. They are difficult to get into, hard to park, hard to see out of, the AC sucks, the stereo sucks, no one can see you, you can't see anyone, the headlights are awful, there's no real interior lighting, and people will almost ram into you trying to take pictures with their cell phones. (ok, that last one can be cool from time to time).

If you're looking for a weekend/track car that you'll drive to work on occasion I think they can be amazing (and on the track they are beyond amazing). If you're looking to replace a modern sport coupe that's comfy with a great stereo to drive to work every day this probably isn't the car for you. I've personally known 2 people who got all excited, bought one then less than 6 months later they sold it as the reality of living with it set in.

Don't get me wrong, I love my car but I would never in a million years consider daily-ing one. I know many do and they think I'm just as crazy as I think they are...

-Ross
 

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re: BMW maintenance

I owned a few BMW's. All M cars.

Once, the warranty runs out, I would rarely go to the dealer. A lot of parts are readily available. I have friends I race with and they own a BMW shop.

Frankly, I never thought Japanese car maintenance was inexpensive, neither are the parts. You just had to do it less often :)

Anton
 

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Discussion Starter #6
1. I have not had to go to the dealer for anything in 5 years of ownership. I do all the work myself and I order parts online if I need them.

2. You can to some extent. Pretty much anything on the engine and transmission you can go to a Toyota dealership and say you need parts for a 2003 Celica GTS. This is what I do at a local Toyota dealership. Once you get off the engine and transmission its gets a little more tricky. For instance the header is a stock Toyota parts but after that its Lotus stuff. The O2 sensor is Lotus, which I did buy from Lotus before and it was only like $130 or something, but with the last one I bought a universal Bosch and spliced it in for about half the price. Once you get to body, no its nothing Toyota, its mostly weird odds and ends from car companies that were never sold here, so you have to go through Lotus....but see point #4 for some relief.

3. Bought mine used. Mine had everything. I like it. The leather, the harness bar, the limited slip, traction control. I don't need most of it, but it makes me feel like I got a nicer car.

4. Luckily there just isn't much to break on an Elise/Exige (helps with point #1). My car did nothing BUT track days for 6 months before I got it and it hasn't given me any problems. Mostly you'll want to look for body damage, and how well the interior has held up. The seats aren't meant for fat Americans so my drivers seat has some wear on the side bolsters. The cloth liner on the hardtop is just starting to peel (I don't smoke and car spends very very little time in the Sun).


For you coming from a 335i I would say look at the supercharged models. The 2005 & 2006 models will feel flat to you. An Elise needs about 240HP at the wheels to have more straight line acceleration then a 335i. Trust me, I know, they put up a good fight.
Excellent information, thanks a ton for taking the time to help. I would absolutely prefer an Exige, I'm just not sure if it's in my price range. Can I find one with fairly low miles, in good condition, for $30k? I've been scouring the 'for sale' section, but haven't found any deals on Exiges.

1. I've owned my car for 3 years, done a completely engine/tranny swap (stock to stock), gutted my interior, swapped the seats, suspension, etc. etc. etc. I'm by no means a mechanic - so in short no, so long as you're willing to dive in and get your hands dirty.

2. I believe not many, only the Celica GT-S (and one other I forget which) share the 2ZZ-GE and then I believe the tranny is different (but don't quote me there). I bought a replacement motor/tranny for - $6k. Total. With 8 miles on it. So yes, cheap to fix.

3. Depends on what you want to do - track or street car? Really in short either way you probably want track and touring (track is upgraded coilovers, etc. and touring is carpet/power windows, etc)

4. Most are pretty easy to spot as the cars are so small/simple. Look at standard stuff like how the interior was maintained and if the previous owner has any documentation on stuff done to it. That however shouldn't throw you off - I don't keep that stuff around personally as A. I don't care and B. I've done so much to my car the stack would be a mile high.

The biggest question is are you getting rid of the 335i for the Elige? I instruct with the BMW club so I drive a lot of students 335s and they are entirely different beasts. You will most likely miss the straight line acceleration as the Elige (in stock, non-supercharged form) is actually sorta slow 0-60. If however you're taking it for track days you're in for a world of fun compared to the 335i (which will feel huge and heavy in comparison).

The biggest advice I give to people considering these cars is to think about how you're going to use it. They are difficult to get into, hard to park, hard to see out of, the AC sucks, the stereo sucks, no one can see you, you can't see anyone, the headlights are awful, there's no real interior lighting, and people will almost ram into you trying to take pictures with their cell phones. (ok, that last one can be cool from time to time).

If you're looking for a weekend/track car that you'll drive to work on occasion I think they can be amazing (and on the track they are beyond amazing). If you're looking to replace a modern sport coupe that's comfy with a great stereo to drive to work every day this probably isn't the car for you. I've personally known 2 people who got all excited, bought one then less than 6 months later they sold it as the reality of living with it set in.

Don't get me wrong, I love my car but I would never in a million years consider daily-ing one. I know many do and they think I'm just as crazy as I think they are...

-Ross
Thanks for the information Ross! I do plan on the car being my daily. None of the issues you mention bother me. As long as I have decent air condition for the really hot days in Florida, I'll be happy. If daily driving the car does become an issue, I have no problem picking up a Honda Civic or something similar for a few thousand bucks to beat on daily. I'm very glad to find out that the price of 2ZZ parts, even on the Lotus, won't kill me.

I was planning to get an S2000 before I considered a lotus. I feel like the Lotus is a step up from the Honda in many ways. Mainly, the lotus looks 100 times better, and I fit better in it. I'm 6'1'' and the Honda is too small for me. The lotus is also about half a ton lighter. Since the Lotus is cheap to maintain as the S2000 is, I feel like it's a no brainer.

I've never tracked before, but I do plan on tracking/autocrossing my next car a lot, whether it be an Elise, Exige, or S2000. I feel like any of the mentioned cars would be great to learn how to track/autocross.

I'm definitely learning towards the Exige, just hoping I can find one in my price range ($30k) that is well taken care of. I feel like Lotus owners definitely care for their cars, so finding a clean one shouldn't be an issue. The real issue will be finding one in my price range.
 

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I doubt you'll find m/any exige for 30k. low 30's though is doable. I can think of one case where you'd consider going to a dealer -if you trashed a clam and wanted to replace it yourself. But even something as large as a clam *can* be shipped.

Most everyone's said everything else there is to say
 

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Thanks for the information Ross! I do plan on the car being my daily. None of the issues you mention bother me. As long as I have decent air condition for the really hot days in Florida, I'll be happy. If daily driving the car does become an issue, I have no problem picking up a Honda Civic or something similar for a few thousand bucks to beat on daily. I'm very glad to find out that the price of 2ZZ parts, even on the Lotus, won't kill me.
Start shopping for your Civic now. My personal opinion is you couldn't daily drive a worse car, especially in the south. I'm from Atlanta so I understand southern heat and the puny AC in these cars is no match for the summers we get in Denver. In Florida you will fry, period. The difference between an Exige and your 335 here is like the Antarctic and an asmatic blowing on you through a straw.

I was planning to get an S2000 before I considered a lotus. I feel like the Lotus is a step up from the Honda in many ways. Mainly, the lotus looks 100 times better, and I fit better in it. I'm 6'1'' and the Honda is too small for me. The lotus is also about half a ton lighter. Since the Lotus is cheap to maintain as the S2000 is, I feel like it's a no brainer.
While I agree that in terms of performance and looks the Exige is a step above the S2000 (we're talking a 3x price difference too) the S2000 in my opinion is a limo compared to my Exige. I have a friend with one and have had it on the track - really fantastic car and if I couldn't have my Exige I'd strongly consider one. Don't fool yourself that the Exige is bigger/better for a daily.

I've never tracked before, but I do plan on tracking/autocrossing my next car a lot, whether it be an Elise, Exige, or S2000. I feel like any of the mentioned cars would be great to learn how to track/autocross.
Agreed, Elige (that's generic for Elise/Exige) or S2000 are both a blast to flog.


I'm definitely learning towards the Exige, just hoping I can find one in my price range ($30k) that is well taken care of. I feel like Lotus owners definitely care for their cars, so finding a clean one shouldn't be an issue. The real issue will be finding one in my price range.
I sure hope you can't find one at that price!! For a well cared for '06 (so NA - same power as a base Elise) they go for upper 30's. You could maybe get a high mileage ex-track car for near $30 and while that might be fine you might be looking for something nicer. My car looks great from about 10 feet, any closer and not so much as she's about 80% track at this point.

I know in some ways I sound like I'm trying to talk you out of it and I guess I am. Just make sure you've thought past the "holy **** it looks amazing and I'll get tons of attention" because while that can be great it can also really suck. Where will you park it? Do you mind it getting dinged some at the mall? People leaning on it to see inside? I almost never park mine where I don't have control so it could never be my only car. I have a friend with a full stage 3 B5 S4 and it's so rough on him he has a Honda Civic as a daily too!!

If you do continue down this path find a low mileage '05 Elise and spend $1k on a front lip and a rear spoiler. It'll look every bit the Exige to everyone else, and you'll save some money to spend on the Civic :)
 

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Having driven an S2000 for a while and as a new owner of a new supercharged Elise (with stock suspension), I can confirm that the S2000 felt like a LIMO in terms of ride quality. The Elise is downright harsh - bordering on abusive - around town.
I was also thinking about buying an S2000 instead of the Elise, but the latter won out because of performance and looks. I also loved the idea of aluminium/fiberglass construction for longevity.
Also, if you're 6'1", you'll find the Exige with its fixed roof a tight fit (I think).
 

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the exige roof can be removed just like an elise
 

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If your only comfort concern is air conditioning in a Florida summer, then you're screwed. The ability of these cars to pump out good cold air is on par with a match's ability to boil the ocean.

You can maintain one without spending your retirement funds, but you WILL spend the occasional weekend pulling a clam off and fixing or replacing something. Or at the very least pulling a door panel off to look for a lost screw. Unless you already have them, you're going to be buying metric tools. You're going to be buying a floor jack and ramps. Unless you stay off the track, you're going to be buying tires and brake pads often. If you ever get a crack in the windshield, it's going to be more money than you thought. If you ever knock a splitter off on a parking curb, it's going to be more money than you thought. If your radiator ever leaks, it's going to be more money than you thought. If you ever mess up a clam?$?$?$?$? Well... don't mess up a clam.
 

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I am 5'10" I can't drive it more than x3 consecutive days without the ache's and pains making it not so fun...

My DD is a Lincoln Towncar so I have complimentary cars on the car spectrum. Like another said plan on getting a Daily if you get a Lotus.

Maybe if I was in my 20s I would consider DD, but honestly you would just be ensuring a bad back sooner in life...

These cars are easy to work on to a point. The Bodies are the most expensive aspect and most likely component to get damaged by accidents. Tiny Angry Dancers they are !
 

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I have owned an 04 S2000 and currently own an 06 Elise.

The Lotus can be used as a daily driver, its just a little more extreme than most.

The pluses of the Lotus over the Honda
The Lotus has amazing sensory feedback. In the factory setup, I have never driven a car that turns into a corner like the Lotus!
The Lotus would render the Honda invisible if they are parked next to each other. This is both a + and a -. In the honda you will never get your picture taken while driving down the highway, in the lotus you will. If your into attention, this is a +.

The pluses of the Honda.
Easier to get into and out of. Even though the doors are short on the car, not much room for your feet between the front of the door and the seat for the size 10's, it is still MUCH easier to get into and out of the Honda.
The ride is more tuned to real life street driving, on streets that may have a ridge here and a pot hole there and maybe even a train track that you need to cross.
Repairing minor accidents, involving body work, is cheaper in the Honda. You can do futuristic things with the Honda like simply unbolt and replace a front bumper, or a front fender, not the entire clam.
The Honda has a bigger trunk, cooler (temperature wise) also. I am assuming that as a daily driver you will use it to get groceries, and those groceries may include something that you really want to keep frozen. On the other hand, I still say the Elise would make a great Pizza delivery car. Fast and hot is no problem!

The minus for both cars in Florida would be the AC.
I would say the AC in my s2k was better than the AC in the Elise, but still only about 1/2 as enthusiastic about cooling the passengers as my wife's Corvette. In the Corvette you have to do something strange; occasionally you have to turn the AC down. Never had to do that in either the S2k or the Elise.

The great thing is either car will be more fun than 90% of the cars you are surrounded by at a stop light!
 

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I daily mine here. I wouldn't have it any other way. It is a blast! This past summer we had temps over 105. If you do the a/c improvements listed on this site, it will help a lot.

The car is fairly cheap to maintain especially compared to some of the problems on the 335's (I work for bmw). I also looked into s2000's as I drove my friends s2000 for a couple months and loved it. For some odd reason, insurance on the s2k was quite a bit more than the elise.
 

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the exige roof can be removed just like an elise
I don't mean to thread-jack, but I am curious about this particular item since I'm also doing research on the Elise/Exige and had ruled out the Exige because I want a soft top/open top.

I assume I can do a search and find a pertinent thread, but if someone here happens to know and can answer quickly regarding the Exige top removal: 1) how's that done, and 2) is there a soft top or would an Elise soft top work on it?

I'm not looking for a roadster that knows only two settings: a) open to the elements or, b) has the hard top on it with no in-between option.

P.S. I particularly appreciated the comparison posts which listed the pluses and minuses. Currently driving an S2000 so the comments regarding those really helped. Many thanks!
 

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I don't mean to thread-jack, but I am curious about this particular item since I'm also doing research on the Elise/Exige and had ruled out the Exige because I want a soft top/open top.

I assume I can do a search and find a pertinent thread, but if someone here happens to know and can answer quickly regarding the Exige top removal: 1) how's that done, and 2) is there a soft top or would an Elise soft top work on it?

I'm not looking for a roadster that knows only two settings: a) open to the elements or, b) has the hard top on it with no in-between option.

P.S. I particularly appreciated the comparison posts which listed the pluses and minuses. Currently driving an S2000 so the comments regarding those really helped. Many thanks!
30,000ft overview.

Unbolt Exige top, same as an Elise if it has the hard top
If you want a soft top you will need to get one, same top as for the Elise
You will need to drill and shape the 4 holes for the two soft top bows and insert the plastic plugs. Shouldnt take more than 1 hr and $800.00 the first time. 10 min after that!
 

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One thing to keep in mind that for the extra money spent on the exiges more aggressive looks (assuming the same motor) you're essentially buying a heavier and slower car. The body is made of different materials so it's a fair bit heavier, the fast back shape adds more weight up high in particular affecting the CG, and the aero in general slows the car down until you've aftermarket wise added enough power to really take advantage of it... unless you buy one of the high power ones... in which case you should still end up having to spend money on heat soak issues in florida. Many people end up with aftermarket blower systems regardless that it came with a blower when stock. Case in point, it's fairly "normal" for the stock n/a elise to keep up with the lowest hp super charged exige model because of the added weight, aero, and SC heatsoak... plus no view straight out the back. This all said, I'll be the first to say that if your priority isn't to go as fast as possible on a budget then get the exige and enjoy the heck out of it, but I figure it's worth mentioning becuase your goals aren't super will defined.

I'm another one here who's a DD of my car. 70k miles now, but it's not my only DD, i split time with it and a mercedes g500... which is another car that's not considered a "normal" DD, but splitting time between the 2 they're a great pair. I would not recommend the elise as an only car, but you're already defined that's not your plan.

The biggest issue with parts can be back-order... there have been 1-2 month back-orders on clams for example, so you car can be down for quite a while on boday damage...

I would also say if you're a person who freaks out of little scratchs and things on your car it's not a good choice because it takes precious little to end up with little cracks here/there from someone bumping it while parallel parking. The good news is that since it's fiberglass you don't have to worry about door dings. I take my car pretty much anywhere and might have a little chip here or there from a door, but at least i'm not looking at annoying door dings.
 

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One thing to keep in mind that for the extra money spent on the exiges more aggressive looks (assuming the same motor) you're essentially buying a heavier and slower car.
well, this would be fun to watch:)
 

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One thing to keep in mind that for the extra money spent on the exiges more aggressive looks (assuming the same motor) you're essentially buying a heavier and slower car.
well, this would be fun to watch:)
 

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One thing to keep in mind that for the extra money spent on the exiges more aggressive looks (assuming the same motor) you're essentially buying a heavier and slower car. The body is made of different materials so it's a fair bit heavier, the fast back shape adds more weight up high in particular affecting the CG, and the aero in general slows the car down until you've aftermarket wise added enough power to really take advantage of it... unless you buy one of the high power ones... in which case you should still end up having to spend money on heat soak issues in florida. Many people end up with aftermarket blower systems regardless that it came with a blower when stock. Case in point, it's fairly "normal" for the stock n/a elise to keep up with the lowest hp super charged exige model because of the added weight, aero, and SC heatsoak... plus no view straight out the back. This all said, I'll be the first to say that if your priority isn't to go as fast as possible on a budget then get the exige and enjoy the heck out of it, but I figure it's worth mentioning becuase your goals aren't super will defined.
All true but might as well mention the rest

- apples to apples there is 30lb difference between an exige and an elise. I'd be shocked if many could feel that weight

- IAT temps are an issue on the Exige S and you don't have to be in florida. There's just not enough air going through the IC stock. Add more air to the IC and you can keep the extra power longer.

- mirrors or a backup camera fix the view out back easily

- 30k budget mostly excludes exige anyway, certainly exludes Exige S (unless salvage or otherwise ruined)

- if you want to go as fast as possible on a budget buy a vette :). If you want to BE as fast as possible on a budget buy a kart or a miata, FF, etc.
 
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