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V EQLS IR
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all -

Finally going to check out my first elise this weekend with my wife, and even after quite a few years of lurking I still feel like I dont have a good grasp on how exactly to evaluate the car in person. Here is the listing, which doesn't really have a lot of good info other than what the pics offer:

2006 Lotus Elise | Madison, WI
(for those that don't care to click through: 2006/Starlight/both tops/3k mi/$35k)

I feel like the price is a bit much, but perhaps not if there are a ton of options that aren't listed here. (maybe some of the keen-eyed forum members can help me out just by looking at the pics?) I know that having both tops is a huge plus, and obviously the fact that it only has a few thousand miles on it is a HUGE bonus. (~500 mi/yr? wow.) It doesn't mention the starshield but I'll take a look when I'm there.

other than that, any other thoughts about the car in general? Anything specific I can look for when i'm there in person?

I see a lot of mention about doing an ECU dump before purchase - is this something the dealer will expect? or will they give me a crazy look? keep in mind this is a local toyota dealer, so I doubt they get those kind of questions about used corollas...

A big negative is that (i believe) the closest Lotus dealer is in Lake Forest (IL), which is a bit of a drive...not sure if anyone in MKE can look at it.

I realize that this post (or some form of it) pops up probably every week on here, and for that I apologize - on the flipside, its great to see such a well-knit and caring community for a car! Any help is greatly appreciated!
 

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Given the time of year and (mildy) improved state of the economy, I don't think the asking price - if it is indeed just that - is unreasonable.
 

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afex,
I bought my 2006 Elise up in Milwaukee two weeks ago. It has the touring/sport package, starshield and only the soft top. I had the car looked at by Al Pinkowsky at GT Motorsports - Ferrari, Maserati, & Alfa Romeo Service Specialists He is close to Madison actually, it would be worth doing. This cost me 200.00 but I got some peace of mind. He is real good at what he does and will give you the no none sense practical evaluation. If you decide to have him look at the car, please mention me or the guy with the Green Lotus from a few weeks ago :)

Anyways the car checked out just fine. There are a few minor paint issues and my windshield has some repaired rock chips but other than that the car was very well cared for, for having 37800 miles. I paid 29,800.00 and I felt like I didn't get a great deal but based on similar age Lotus' I don't think I got screwed either.... they are going to make their money and these cars are hard to find so the demand is high which means negotiating down is difficult, especially when the car has such low mileage.

I'm not a car expert either and really didn't know what to look out for as far as engine/transmission etc goes, so that is the main reason I had a expert 3rd party look at it. The rest of it I evaluated: Tire condition, paint, leather & interior, clutch/shift and how it felt driving. I can just tell you to drive it, and do a real good visual inspection, take notes if you need to. Try to get the owner history as well and service records. Your car has lower miles by a lot and a hard top. That is probably worth at least 2-3K in value if I had to guess. The more information you can get before committing the better. In the end I have had zero regrets buying my Lotus. I wish I had done so 10 years ago.

Best of luck with your purchase.
 

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V EQLS IR
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
awesome, thanks for the feedback guys!

I would agree, a couple hundred bucks is nothing to ensure that you know what you're buying.

just out of curiousity, how did you stumble across Al?
 

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Afex - good luck!

It's far away from you (Team Stradale at Autobahn Racetrack in Joliet), but TJ is there (twaszak on the forum). He's the man for all things Lotus.

Also, check out the IL/WI Gumball Rally thread. We are doing a big road rally (twisty roads, etc) near Madison. So far about 20 cars (Lotus mostly). Would be great to truly enjoy your car on fun roads and meet the locals (Chicago and Wisconsin guys).

Good luck!
 

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V EQLS IR
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
awesome! I'd love to know how many other Milwaukee area guys there are - i live right downtown and I think i've only seen 4 (different) elises here over the last few years, there's gotta be more!

I actually stopped and talked to someone filling up on the east side and he said its his DD, just swaps out tires from nov-march 0_o
 

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Welcome afex. There was another new member here that was looking at that same car a few weeks ago. Might be worth asking why he decided to pass. If I remember correctly the story was that the car was owned by one of the owners of that Toyota/Scion dealership.

As SwingLo said, the best mechanic around is T.J. at Team Stradale in Joliet (at the Autobahn track). Fox Valley is the most active dealer around, from what I understand Lake Forest hasn't done much with the Lotus franchise since they picked it up.

Best of luck - and have fun!
 

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V EQLS IR
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Discussion Starter #8
good to know - if anyone knows who it was, i'd love to hear the story!

they've had this car for a while (been on and off of ebay) so there must be *something* that's up...I figure there's nothing to lose by taking a look, worst case scenario they dont budge on price at all and I move on - and if i've learned anything from watching these forums, its to wait until the right car comes along!
 

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I'm fairly certain that the discussion on that car was in the May drive thread (http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f112/official-thread-il-wi-ia-mn-gumball-rally-5-5-12-register-now-111219/). I wouldn't take it being around for a while as a sign of anything bad. It was winter in WI and they're a non-franchise dealer very far from the nearest dealer and their asking price is aggressive.

You should also consider the cars that Fox Valley has in stock, they can at least do an ECU dump and know the cars quite well: Fox Valley Motorcars / Lamborghini Chicago - Inventory
 

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Hello from an Elise owner in Central Wisconsin.

My sense is that the dealer who owns that car is using it as a novelty to attract traffic to his business, and I'm not sure how serious he is to sell it. That said, a dealer always builds in a large margin to use in negotiation, and with low miles it could be in the range. However, it would be nice to have a hardtop to go with it at that price.

You'd want to get a lot more information about the history of course. Ask about collision history and regular maintenance records. Was this a dedicated track toy? (I doubt that) If he wants close to that price I'd want to see like-new brakes and tires and all mechanicals in excellent condition. The body, interior, and glass should have only very minor defects if at all.

Be sure to ask about the listed "power steering".:rolleyes:

Actually, you live a short distance (by Lotus standards) from first-class service from T.J. at Team Stradale or Fox Valley in Chicago.

BTW, my son lives in Oak Creek and just bought a 2007 Exige S. I'd say there are a half-dozen Lotus owners in the greater Milwaukee/Racine area.
 

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V EQLS IR
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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the info, all!

BTW, my son lives in Oak Creek and just bought a 2007 Exige S. I'd say there are a half-dozen Lotus owners in the greater Milwaukee/Racine area.
This would be a really crazy coincidence, but do you happen to have a son named Mark? I seem to recall him talking about his brother in Oak Creek recently buying a lotus....
 

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Closer than you think
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Also, FWIW, most of us here in Wisconsin have not limited our Lotus searches to the local market. Both my son and I found our cars long-distance in California. We bought them based on photo descriptions, exercised due diligence, and had local dealer inspections. By shopping around we had many more choices, and I believe we each "saved" enough to pay the $1000 enclosed shipping to the land of cheese.
 

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Closer than you think
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This would be a really crazy coincidence, but do you happen to have a son named Mark? I seem to recall him talking about his brother in Oak Creek recently buying a lotus....
My son's name is Robert (Me! here on L.T.). Maybe there are two new owners in Oak Creek!

JWA in Racine just sold his supercharged Elise to buy an awesome Exige 260. He's been a great resource of local Lotus advice.

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk off-line about my own buying experiences.
 

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When you test drive it, don't be like I was and trolley it around the city block. Let it get properly warmed up, 194 degrees water temp, and try to get it on some clear road so you can experience the cam shifting at 6200+. You'll know it when you get there, but the driving position, sound of the motor inches from your head, hyper sensitive steering are all so much to take in, you might miss experiencing the "fast" part of the Elise. And e prepared to never be satisfied with any other car for the rest of your life ;^)
 

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If the car does not have it now (and I didn't see the lines indicating it does), plan on adding starshield to protect that pretty paint. The car lists all the stock options. Take the "premium sound system" listing with a grain of salt (actually an entire salt mine). Nice LSS wheels, curious if it has the LSS suspension package (you can tell by the shocks). Interior doesn't look like the car has the full touring pack (lack of carpet). But it does have AC and Radio. See if it has the small net behind and between the two seats. Looks pretty, shame the previous owner didn"t drive it more, must have been a garage queen.
 

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I called on that car over 7 months ago when I was looking for an Elise (ended up going with another car). At that time, they were listing the car for around 40 and wouldn't go below 37,500 on price. I was told that the car belongs to the owner of the dealership. Never saw the car in person, but they did send me a lot of photos and it seemed to be in great shape. I can tell you that car has been for sale for nearly 9 months if not more. You should be able to get more off the asking price.
 

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V EQLS IR
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Discussion Starter #17
well, took a short drive out there on Saturday morning to find out it had actually been bought on FRIDAY AFTERNOON!

apparently someone came up from Alabama and drove it home!

At first I thought they were just messing with me, since it has been there for almost a year, but alas my search continues - I think i'll open it up to looking nationally (as many have done/suggested), plus that would make a pretty fun road trip with the wife!

My only concern was that half of the point of going local was so that I could actually drive one of these dang things, and make sure i *really* know what i'm getting myself into. Perhaps someone in SE wisconsin will let me rent their elise for a day? (just kidding.)

Anyway, thanks for all the help guys!
 

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Bummer. Sounds like a trip down to Fox Valley is in your future. Ask for Jim or Todd. They'll take good care of you, and be happy to show you a range of cars. If you like Italian, hit Antico Posto in Oak Brook mall for dinner afterwards, or Pappadeaux for cajun/sea food.
 

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Keep the faith! I had 4 deals all set up gone sour when I drove to pick the car up. I finally scored 3000 miles away and it worked out for the best. I got a very low mileage car with all the features I wanted, the color I wanted AND $30,000.00 in upgrades done professionally on the car of my dreams for what I was going to spend locally. Be patient and wait for that perfect car. It is frustrating waiting, but do not settle for anything less than exactly what you want. It will be worth it!
 

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Actually I'm getting the impression that it is getting a bit harder to find the car you want exactly. Three years ago, when I decided to get an Elise, there were quite a few '05's that had been driven/owned (there is a difference) by the original batch of buyers that were on the market. You could find most any color/package you wanted in a few weeks of looking at the listings on LT, with the nice cars pretty much grouped at the low $30's range. I bought my nightfall blue car at a little over $30K with low miles. It was a 1,000 miles away, but trailered, professional shipping is only about $1,000, and it seemed well worth it.

I think you could luck into a perfectly modified car like the poster above, but there seem to be a lot of cars with salvage titles and stories out there, priced pretty aggressively. I know that my local dealer, Auto Europe, moves virtually any early Elise in good shape now in the low to mid- $30's.

FWIW, I'd try very hard to get a car off the board here if the owner has a posting history (not a two-week owner/flipper). If I was buying today, a known history and a knowledgeable owner would be worth a ton. The cars are getting on a bit in age, and if fluids weren't changed, or cosmetics weren't cared for, you'll be in a money or time pit. I agree with everyone that the mechanicals are relatively simple, but these were not the best-built cars in the world, and once you start to take a few panels off you realize this is not really a Toyota.

Anyways, good luck with the search. It's the most delightful driving experience around.
 
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