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Greetings !

I haven't seen it posted yet so I wanted to let you know that there's now a Lotus Dealer in Orange County, California after an absence of around a year. The new dealer is called Newport European Motorcars, Ltd. and they're in Costa Mesa. The prior dealership was closed due to some unfortunate issues reportedly revolving around law enforcement, controlled substances, and movement of cash. Also, they had fairly crummy customer relations (based upon my experience).

The new dealership, although located in the same spot on Harbor Blvd., have no connection with the prior guys and they are adament about that. They are affiliated with Desert Motorcars (or similar name) out of Palm Springs and they are dealers of Lotus and Rolls Royce, but they also currently have some Maseratis and Ferraris in the showroom (the latter may be "pre-owned"). I understand they've been there almost 2 months now.

They're accepting deposits on the U.S. version of the Elise, and according to the Manager, Vance Alison, they've taken about 5 or 6 so far.

They currently have the yellow Euro-spec version of the Elise that is floating around, and Vance was very kind to offer me a test-drive in it. This was the second time that I've been able to drive the car, and to sum it up, it's only reinforced to me what all the fuss is about - there's simply nothing else out there, in this kind of price range at least, that delivers the kind of raw, unaldulterated kick-ass fun that the Elise gives ! Even in lunchtime traffic on city streets, the thing is just so direct and visceral in some weird way that it induces stupid, sh*&-eating grins all-around.

A few more observations: This was the first time that I've had to get in and out of the Elise with the top on, and I do have to say that it's going to take some practice - getting in isn't that hard, but exiting the car with any grace and dignity at all is challenging for the novice. And I'm a relatively short guy (5'8" or so and around 155 lb.) who tries to stay fit and limber ! The Elise should keep me flexible, anyway :p

Also, I was happy to hear the dealer reinforce what I'd already heard elsewhere - that the U.S. version will be screwed together a bit tighter than the test car, as the body panel shake is definitely noticeable. Regardless, the car looks amazing, IMO, and it definitely gets lots of attention from bystanders, so you'd better be prepared (clean shirt, and no picking of the nose - not that any of us would do that anyway !)

Cheers !
 

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I just spent a LONG weekend in Newport Beach (I must recommend Villa Nova restaurant in Newport Beach and also Rick's Partners Bistro in Laguna Beach). I recalled there was a new dealer somewhere around Costa Mesa, but didn't know who it was.

Thanks for the info.
 

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Thanks Mike. This makes me excited about the car. I thoroughly enjoyed simply cruising in that test car. Fun at normal speeds, and hopefully spectacular at brisk ones.
 

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Hey, I drove that car at around 10:30 this morning!

Great stuff, it brought back fond memories of my old '65 Elan. Dynamically the car is amazing, light, nimble, tossable, great feedback, and all while delivering a surprisingly compliant ride. In fact, a better ride and roomier cockpit than my old '95 Miata.

I too got to experience the top-on entry and exit, and at 6'-2" & 240 lbs. it's going to take some practice to look graceful getting in and out. Didn't I see a video on this subject somewhere?

My only complaints are ergonomic.
1. The limited space between the shifter and steering wheel is completely taken up by my knee. Nothing a slightly bent shift lever couldn't fix.
2. My size 15 Nike's get hung up between the brake and the center console when going for the throttle pedal. I was forced to use the side of my shoe to press the accelerator. This is actually fine when you're heel-toeing, or in my case ball of the foot - side of the footing :) and was in fact he way I drove the old Elan. Once again, a little bend or sliding over of the brake pedal would solve this issue completely.
3. Between the passaenger's head and the B-pillar/targa bar thingy, there is a significant loss of visibility to the side. I was a little hesitant to change lanes in traffic, but I'm sure it's something you get used to. It's not like anything bigger than a motorcycle could hide in that blindspot anyway.

It was really quite a treat to drive. After spending the weekend instructing for SVTOA (think supercharged Mustangs) at the Streets of Willow Springs, it was great to get into a small quick car and feel instantly at ease.

I've been smiling all day long :)
 
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