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A year ago today, I bought this Elise from @alexn103. Working with Alex was easy and he was very accommodating. I owe a big thank you to @cyow5 for inspecting the car for me before I flew out to pick it up.

Before buying the car, I had only ridden in an Elise, but I was instantly hooked. That being said, driving the car from Virginia to Tulsa was certainly an interesting introduction. The car was flawless on the drive home. My wife was pretty shocked when my 6’4” frame rolled out of what is, an objectively small car. I’m honestly too tall for the car, but I don’t care. The experience is worth the discomfort for me.

Within three weeks of buying it, my friends insisted I go out to Hallet with them. It was the first time I had been on a track, and again, I was instantly hooked. I don’t have to tell this group about how wonderfully the car performs on a track, but I will say that if you haven’t tracked your Elise, you’re really missing out (IMHO). The car is so naturally at home there in a way that it never is on the street.

Anyway, the summer rolled on and I started making plans to repair the damage to the rear clam. My mom has decades of experience with composites, and our good family friend owns a fiberglass shop, so this repair was part of the original plan when I bought the car. I decided to enjoy the car for the rest of the fall and take it down during the winter. In the meantime, I picked up some great used parts including a GARW dash and a Difflow 5 element diffuser. I also scored an excellent deal on a new set of AD07s.

On November 2nd I was taking a friend for a ride when I was rear ended. We were stopped at a stoplight and so was the truck behind me. The driver of the truck moved forward for an unknown reason and barely tapped into me. I heard the noise and actually said, “What was that?”. I didn’t even feel it. Luckily, he missed the new diffuser and the exhaust that I had just repaired earlier that week. But, he exacerbated the damage to the rear clam.
After accident.jpg

I spent the next month trying to convince his insurance company (American Hallmark) that they owed me something for the additional damage that he did to my vehicle, which was easily identifiable from photos. They agreed that he caused additional damage, but they said they didn’t owe me anything because the clam already had to be replaced. Everyone I showed the car to, including my insurance agent, disagreed, so I kept pushing.

In the middle of all of this, I had scheduled another track day at Hallett. After all, the car was still perfectly drivable. The night before, I started up the car to experiment connecting my OBDII reader to RaceChrono. The car began idling rough and misfiring. It threw a misfire code. I believe it was P1301. I started swapping coil plugs, spark plugs and fuel injectors trying to identify which component was at fault. I wasn’t able to figure it out before I ran out of time, so I had the pleasure of paying $200 to sit and watch my friends hit the track. C’est la vie.

The next day I started troubleshooting again. After many dead ends (O2 sensor, throttle body, etc.) I regrouped and discovered that I had misinterpreted the P1301 code as a cylinder #1 misfire code instead of a generic misfire code. After I had switched around plugs, injectors and coil packs, I was still getting the same code, even when I had wrongly expected it to move to a different cylinder, and throw a different code. It turns out, it was the coil pack on the #2 cylinder all along. In my effort to find the problem before my track day, I switched too many things at once and, in combination with not properly understanding Lotus’ definition of P1301, I missed the coil pack issue. So a week later four new coil packs showed up on my door, and I was back in business.

Eventually, I hit a brick wall with the other guy’s insurance, so I went to my insurance (State Farm). My agent was very receptive and on my side. The corporate office sent out an estimator, who after seeing it in person, agreed with me. Unfortunately, someone at the corporate office thought I was trying to pull the wool over their eyes, and flagged me for a fraud investigation. After several weeks, they concluded that I had been upfront about the existing damage and I wasn’t trying to defraud them. By this time, it’s early 2019. I asked them what was next. The corporate agent says, “Oh, did you want this go through State Farm? I can forward your claim over to one of the adjusters and they can look at your case. I don’t know if you’ll get anything. You know, you can always negotiate with the other insurance company.” (I’ll just leave this here for you, dear reader, to soak in)

After that last phone call, I had a death in the family, and the Lotus insurance debacle took a back seat. Several weeks later I called my local agent and explained that I hadn’t heard a peep from anyone at State Farm. She was as frustrated as I was. She contacted them and found out that they didn’t believe they would pay anything for the claim. She promised to keep working.

Meanwhile, I started calling the other agent and leaving her voicemails to see if I could get her to make a deal. She never returned my calls. I ended up calling the main company number and speaking with a new agent. She looked up my claim number and said that my claim file had been closed. I informed her that I never settled my claim, nor had I agreed to close my claim. She reopened it and flagged the previous agent. Within an hour I got a phone call from the original agent asking what was going on. I tried to negotiate with her but she wouldn’t budge an inch.

Luckily for me, a friend of mine is a lawyer. He called her and explained his stance. From his description of the conversation, she was combative. I worked with him to draft up a demand letter and we sent it off. Less than month later, I got a check in the mail for what we asked for. It wasn’t a huge amount, but I wasn’t after a huge amount. I bought the car with damage, and I expected to repair it. That being said, I don’t think you can bump into other people’s cars and get off scot-free just because the car had some pre-existing damage. (That’s just my opinion. I’m not a lawyer, and every situation is unique. YMMV.)

Again… in the middle of all of this, I had scheduled another track day, but this time at MSR Cresson in Texas. The four hour drive there and back was not very comfortable and made me wonder how I ever drove the car 18 hours home from Virginia. It was all worth it though when I got out on that track. Sixteen turns over 3.1 miles makes the track a blast. If you’re in the Dallas area, I recommend you check out MSR Cresson. We had a professional photographer come out with us. He snapped this photo that I really like. I’m still trying to get a hold of him to purchase the photo, hence the watermark.
MSR.jpg

After the track day at MSR, I started taking the car apart to finally get the rear clam repaired. The additional damage made me seriously consider buying a new clam and/or finding one with less damage. I got lucky though because @Corvus13 ;had almost the exact part that I needed to splice into my clam. The rear of this clam had been resigned to garage art/a tribute to the tragic events documented here. So after some careful planning, we started making cuts and spliced together the two pieces.
Clam piece.jpg
Clam repair prep.jpg
Clam repair spliced.jpg

(continued in the next post)
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
My first year with an Elise (pt. 2)

This kind of work takes a lot of time and patience to get right but the plan was to complete the body work and get it to paint in early May so I could hit the track again on June 21st.

Of course, it wouldn’t be interesting if something hadn’t come up to derail my plans. You may have seen that Tulsa experienced some pretty substantial rain in May and that the Arkansas river was flooding. We live right at the edge of the 100yr floodplain, so we were a bit nervous. As a precaution, we moved quite a bit of our belongings out of our house, including the Lotus. I rigged up the tail lights and used a bungee cord to hold the battery to the rear frame rail. I only had to get the car moved a few miles up the street to a friend’s house, but it sure looks funny like this!
No clam.jpg

Luckily we weren’t affected by the flooding and everything is back to normal. The delay caused by all that commotion meant that I won’t get it to the paint shop in time, so I’ll be putting the primed clam back on the car next week and going to the track on the 21st of this month. After that I can take it back off and send it off for paint. Here's its current state.
Clam repair primed.jpg

As an aside, I wouldn’t be sane removing and reinstalling the clam this many times if wasn’t for the Radium clam kit. It makes it so much easier to remove the clam. The only real step it saves you is that you don’t have to tear apart the interior, but that saves so much time. If you need to remove the clam for any reason, I would recommend that you reassemble it with one of these kits. It makes future work so much easier.

Over the past year I’ve had quite the experience with the Elise. I like wrenching on it as much as I love driving it. I’ve upgraded the clutch and flywheel, replaced the radiator and thermostat, installed a harness bar, and upgraded lots of other little things here and there.

Future plans include finding the missing parts for the used REV400 kit I bought, and of course, finishing up the rear clam repair.

I’m really looking forward to another year with this amazing machine. Thanks for reading!
 
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