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In my researches of Elises for sale, it seems untracked cars are valued more. How much does tracking affect resale value and how can one assess damage/wear from tracking when evaluating a vehicle? Obviously, a car that has been heavily tracked for years will probably show the strain but how about a low mileage newer car that has only been tracked a few times and was well cared for? Does the newer car take a price drop just for having been on the track and how much of a drop?
 

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Resale value is affected by 6.35%.
Low mileage tracked cars retain 32.8% more of the previously noted resale loss.

Or maybe the less smart-alecky response is: Value is in the beholder. And there certainly isn't any empirical way to answer these questions.
 

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2005 Lotus Elise; 2007 Lotus Exige S; 2012 Porsche 991S
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I mean, you have to weigh the pro's and con's. As a buyer, yes I'd expect to pay less for a car that's seen lots of track time.

But as an owner, getting the car out on a track sure is a lot of fun...and in my opinion, cars are made to be driven.

On the plus side, most cars that see track time are very well maintained by necessity. So as long as it doesn't seem to be abused, I think you'll be fine.
 

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I'd say that most cars that are tracked are very well taken care of. People that track their cars (like myself) are generally vigilant about keeping up with maintenance. Your life depends on it!
I would personally take a well cared for and properly set up track car than a garage queen that has not been driven in the past 10 years.

With that being said, I don't believe the majority of LT members share the same sentiment.
If you're looking to take your Lotus on the track, then why not have someone else do all the work of sorting it out? I've seen people mention that you can expect to get 50¢ on the dollar for mods. I think it depends on the modification. A supercharger may hold a higher value for many, than a baffled oil pan, toe links, or surge tank.

I don't plan on selling mine, so I'll do with it what I will?

??
 

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I have to admit I agree with LotusCC; some mods hold more value. I would have paid more for my car if it already had a sorted out supercharger. I see a supercharger making an Elise more "Exige-like". Another inexpensive mod, which greatly improves the usability of the car for regular driving is HID lights. They make a phenomenal difference for nighttime driving. Only potential track hounds tend to value toe-links, baffled fuel tank, baffled oil pan (or surge tank equivalents). Most people wouldn't get too excited about spare wheels and tires, unless they are track hounds.
 

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I also think LotusCC states it well. I think, however, that any Elise that has been taken to the track, even a limited number of times, would have benefited from oil pan, toe link upgrades, etc., if only to preserve more fully the OEM parts they are protecting. They protect the car from being "abused" while on the track, in a way. I would look for those upgrades and would value them if I were to purchase a preowned Elige.

I still consider my car a garage queen most of the time but am proud that it has seen some spirited track sessions without being devalued, IMO, as a result.
 

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You can either buy a lotus and not do anything with it:
- dont drive it on the track
- dont autocross it
- dont put more than 20k on it (you're high mileage now!!!)
- dont put too many highway miles on it because the paint chips easy

If you do all those things, your lotus will be one of those that you can 'have for free' and maybe sell it for the same price, or perhaps a little more depending on your timing. In the end all you're really doing is collecting 1:1 scale hot wheels. If thats what you want to do, avoid a tracked car. If you're the type that would like to drive the car, accept the fact that you're going to cause depreciation- when you drive it you are trading dollars for enjoyment.
 

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Tracked cars are often heavily modded. Well maintained. Sorted out.

But value? From what I've seen you'd get maybe 10 cents on the dollar for your mods. Maybe. Plenty great track car appear here that don't sell for a good while.

I've easily got $75,000 in the Elise. I'd be very surprised to get $35,000 for her, and there are a lot of essentiall new serious upgrades.
 

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Tracked cars are often heavily modded. Well maintained. Sorted out.

But value? From what I've seen you'd get maybe 10 cents on the dollar for your mods. Maybe. Plenty great track car appear here that don't sell for a good while.

I've easily got $75,000 in the Elise. I'd be very surprised to get $35,000 for her, and there are a lot of essentiall new serious upgrades.
Probably if I had your car from stock, the value of those mods would be well worth it, but alas, in resale, I am realizing, the fun and pleasure afforded by those parts have extracted from their monetary values.
 

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I'd say that most cars that are tracked are very well taken care of. People that track their cars (like myself) are generally vigilant about keeping up with maintenance.

??
What he said.

Inquire at Spring Mountain about buying one of their school Corvettes. You would think there would be low demand for such rented mule red-headed stepchildren, but, in fact, demand is high. Fully depreciated and rigorously maintained.

Jds,

Props to your sentiments. Very eloquently put. Everyone has their own personal Price / Value / Happiness matrix, but I personally derive immense "units of pleasure" by driving my car as Mr. Chapman intended. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em!

I took my '05 and have gone pretty full on stupid. Mostly gutted, bare Reverie seats, 1,825 lbs & 300 hp. I love it. Most importantly, my inner nine year old is satiated. That is HARD to do. In retrospect, I wish my '05 was stock AND I had an Exige Cup Car or a 211 for weekend warrior-ing. I could potentially pull that off now, but that wasn't in the cards back in '06 when I got my new old stock '05. Yeah, I haven't maximized it's residual value, but the units of pleasure derived?...

Priceless.
 

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Absolute power does what?
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Another here that agrees with the sentiments of most of the group here. If you're buying one of these cars and really concerned about resale value I think you're buying the wrong car. From what I see there are 2 types that buy these, die-hard track rats who pour our heart and soul into them or guys that hold onto them for a year before the realities of ownership set in. I try to explain to people that these aren't cars, they are toys to be enjoyed. If you think of it like a car you're again thinking about it in the wrong way.

I bought my '06 Exige about 4 years ago and just like Frank have done a stupid amount of mods to it. Last time I added that up my total cost of ownership was close to - uh - damn I'm not even going to post that number. Let's just say I've spent more in mods than I did on the car. And I know I'll never get a penny of that back. My $45k car (4 years ago) might get $50k if I had to sell it. You should never think of mods as adding value to a car, they don't. As Frank put it they add units of pleasure. And just like Frank the units of pleasure I get out of my car are immense.

So either buy a low milage non-tracked example and keep it for a year - you'll probably sell it for right at what you paid for it. Or buy a sorted, well maintained and worked out car, enjoy the crap out of it and sell it for a little less than you paid (knowing that any mods you do will NOT add value). For me there is no other car that I could derive more units of pleasure from for the relatively low price I've paid. My car competes with (and smokes) cars that are 2-3x it's cost/value.

So if you can afford it and you want it buy it. Personally I hope to own mine for the rest of my life so I've never even once considered resale. I'd sleep in my truck before I sold my Exige!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
All really good comments! I am on the buying side at the moment but the resale value of mods is an interesting subject.

If I understand correctly, a well set up car that is well maintained and not abused on the track, then, although the market might not agree, the car should be as good as an untracked car. But it does seem to me that the car should have more wear per mile than an untracked car.

What questions would you want answered in looking at a tracked car?
 

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Absolute power does what?
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All really good comments! I am on the buying side at the moment but the resale value of mods is an interesting subject.

If I understand correctly, a well set up car that is well maintained and not abused on the track, then, although the market might not agree, the car should be as good as an untracked car. But it does seem to me that the car should have more wear per mile than an untracked car.

What questions would you want answered in looking at a tracked car?
If you're making generalizations then this is mostly correct. But there are a lot of 'buts' here. Let's assume 2 cars are both the same year and same miles. One has been tracked a lot, one never. Let's say the track driver is "one of us", meaning he logs everything he does, he maintains things meticulously and constantly inspects and works on the car. Take the second car, say it's owner had a 19 year old kid in the house that got to drive it from time to time. The owner never tracks it and only takes it in for oil changes once or twice a year and that's it. Which one has been driven harder? Well honestly it's hard to say.

Remember these cars are built to be driven hard. And again while your generalizations are fairly accurate with these cars you have to take them on a car by car basis. I'd buy Frank's car before just about any other on the market as I KNOW that he has maintained it perfectly and that it's been constantly monitored and inspected. To me that's a known quantity and I put a lot of value in that.

My advice would be find the right car - and don't worry about it's track history. When you find it learn about the owner, if they did track it do they have a full maintenance log? Mine is pages long as is Frank's. Get an ECU dump if you can that way you know if it's had any overrevs, etc. Have a PPI done, look at the suspension components, look at the glue for the frame. Find out what mods have been done - did the guy slap a 300hp supercharger on it and that's it? Or did it balance the way it was modded, power, brakes, suspension, safety, etc. I owned my car for 3 years before I added power - after I'd done everything else. I think I've modded my car in a very thoughtful and balanced way - and a car like that wouldn't scare me. One that has a few very random mods might.

In the end don't like a "tracked car" scare you. A dedicated track car - sure, stay away. For example you wouldn't want my car for sure as it's a stripped out track toy that's been driven very *hard*, very hard. There's a big difference between a track only car and a car that's been tracked a few times.

I'd start finding what you think is the right car and post it up here - as you can see we'll give you our unbiased view of it and, if the owner is here, we'll most likely know quite a bit about them and the car. If the car has been tracked but they aren't here (or on BritishSpeed) I'd also be concerned as they might not have done all their homework.

Hope that's helpful....
 

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...
I'd start finding what you think is the right car and post it up here - as you can see we'll give you our unbiased view of it and, if the owner is here, we'll most likely know quite a bit about them and the car.
Agree with everything you said except this. Post that car up here and you'll get biased opinions all over the place. There are plenty of people here that see the word 'track' and assume the car has been through the mud even though they've never been on a track. People will have no problems playing armchair quarterback with an ECU dump.

Most people wouldn't do it, but in my opinion its worth taking the time to see where someone giving free advice stands in the community. Its often fairly easy to tell what kind of an owner they are and what kind of expertise they have using tools on the forum.
 

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Agree with everything you said except this. Post that car up here and you'll get biased opinions all over the place. There are plenty of people here that see the word 'track' and assume the car has been through the mud even though they've never been on a track. People will have no problems playing armchair quarterback with an ECU dump.

Most people wouldn't do it, but in my opinion its worth taking the time to see where someone giving free advice stands in the community. Its often fairly easy to tell what kind of an owner they are and what kind of expertise they have using tools on the forum.
Yeah, I suppose that's fair enough and while you're sure to get some varying opinions like you said if you take the time to understand who is giving you the advice you can then decide what it's worth. While it can be hard to tell who is giving you sound advice if you spend some time looking into the "who" you'll be able to tell pretty easily if they know what they are talking about. Post count can help but there are plenty of windbags (like me) with high post counts that don't know crap about their/these cars. Clearly I fall into that camp!!!

I still think the advice of finding what you think is the right car then soliciting input is the best way to go about this - in some ways it's just about the only way to do it...
 

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yes, in spite of the advice you may get I think its worthwhile to post here and ask.
 

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Ross, around here as a general rule we discount $800 per track day so basically since you've done 20 track days your car is worth somewhere around $34K so I'll talk to my bank tomorrow morning to see if we can close the deal...
 

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Tracked car vs "track car"

My car is a car that has been tracked. Ross and Frank have track cars. I'd say these are two different beasts. Mine's not heavily modified.

When I was looking for an Elise, I didn't worry at all whether the car had seen the track. But I didn't seriously consider any that were heavily modified. As others have said, mods tend to have value only for the one adding them.

A car like an Elise or Exige is meant to be driven in a way that you just can't do on the street. At least not without being a danger to yourself and others. To take a corner like an Elise can take a corner... I think that's something special. While I understand that a track car might not command the same selling price, I don't get why a car that's basically stock and has been regularly tracked (i.e. a few club days a year) should be a liability. Frankly, I'd be more concerned buying an '05 with 5k miles on it than one with 40k that's been tracked a few times.
 

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My car is a car that has been tracked. Ross and Frank have track cars. I'd say these are two different beasts. Mine's not heavily modified.

When I was looking for an Elise, I didn't worry at all whether the car had seen the track. But I didn't seriously consider any that were heavily modified. As others have said, mods tend to have value only for the one adding them.

A car like an Elise or Exige is meant to be driven in a way that you just can't do on the street. At least not without being a danger to yourself and others. To take a corner like an Elise can take a corner... I think that's something special. While I understand that a track car might not command the same selling price, I don't get why a car that's basically stock and has been regularly tracked (i.e. a few club days a year) should be a liability. Frankly, I'd be more concerned buying an '05 with 5k miles on it than one with 40k that's been tracked a few times.
This is dead-on balls accurate, well said.

Ross, around here as a general rule we discount $800 per track day so basically since you've done 20 track days your car is worth somewhere around $34K so I'll talk to my bank tomorrow morning to see if we can close the deal...
Oh she's seen far far more than 20 days, log book shows 48 in the past 3 seasons. I don't like my value with your math!!!

-Ross
 

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Low mile garage queens are like trophy wives. Your friends will be impressed, but if you pick the wrong one, it might cost you to get it work.

High mileage daily drivers are the fun, average looking girl. Good enough in the sack, and you don't have to worry about strangers trying take her.

Heavily tracked cars are professional strippers. They look great and perform amazing in the bedroom, but there is virtually guaranteed to be frequent unanticipated drama.

Track rental cars are high dollar prostitutes. Great fun for a weekend, but no one in their right mind would consider bringing one home.
 
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