Lotus has some rules about the "in service date" of the car, that's when the warranty starts. The dealer who was selling me my Elise was under the impression that the warranty would kick in when I sign the paperwork, but it turns out that it started when his dealership bought the car from Lotus. It seems that the warranty kicks in the moment Lotus transfers ownership of the car away from the factory and to anyone else, including dealers. Some cars on dealer lots are still owned by Lotus, and those have warranties that haven't started. After a while, dealers may be forced to buy the car from Lotus, and the warranty starts then. It's complicated. Before buying a Lotus, have a Lotus dealer run the VIN through the warranty system and look up the in-service date.
There is a lot of conflicting information 'out there' about when the warranty kicks in, but there is one definitive source: Lotus.
One person on here who used to work for a Lotus dealer said there was a mileage threshhold...I believe he said once the car has 50 or so miles on it (may have been 100) the dealer is required to notify Lotus, and the warranty clock starts, whether sold or not.
There is the above view that once the dealer 'buys' the car from Lotus, the clock starts.
I bought my 07 Exige S as a leftover from a dealer in 8/08. Had 135 demo miles on the clock. The dealer had had it on the lot for over a year, I would assume they had bought it from Lotus.
I just now called the dealer about my warranty clock. While I was on hold, they logged into the Lotus Cars website, and confirmed that the factory considers my warranty as expiring on 08/10/11.
3 years from date of sale.
Your mileage may vary. Point is that a dealer, armed with the VIN, should be able to log directly into Lotus through their portal, and confirm the exact date the factory has determined the warranty expires.