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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Have you ever lusted after a women (or guy for you women) for a long time and then found out she (he) had bad breath, smoked, drank too much, or anything else that you found really unattractive? That’s what I feel like after 7 years of lust. I drove to Pittsburgh yesterday (4 hours each way) to see the Elise in the flesh. I was worried about it being too small or too cramped so I had to see it and sit in it in person to really know. I actually don’t think it looked that small nor was too difficult to get climb in or out. HOWEVER, I was (and still am) in shock over the fit and finish. This is something I never even questioned or thought about. I know this car (red one) was only a prototype, but it really scared the hell out of me. There was practically nothing that fit right. Now I fully admit that I’m an absolute nut for details (misalignments and rattles drive me crazy), but the Elise reminded me of my Triumphs, except that the fit and finish of the Triumphs was a notch or two above that of the Elise. My 17-year old Alfa GTV6 was immensely better in production quality.

The Elise looked like something from the 60’s in terms of quality. The gaskets of the headlights and turn signals were not entirely flush against the body. All of the black finned pieces (front, side, and back) were askew and they looked so flimsy that I’m sure they could be snapped with one’s fingers. If you run over a rabbit, the front louvers will be destroyed. The doors were not square with the body. The dash material is very cheep looking and curls up a bit at the joints. The plastic shift shroud (from the photos, I thought it was aluminum) looks like it's made of the same gage plastic used to make soda bottles. The thing is fixed by two small exposed Philips head screws, and the whole piece flops around when the shifter is moved. The engine louvers are only glued in place. They were loose on the show car and glue was visible. The leading edge of the soft top did not seal tightly against the corners of the windshield frame. The gas cap looked like it was fabricated in one’s basement with hand tools: the edges are rough and it flops around. The car literally gave me the impression that pieces would fall off at 50 mph and the whole car would come apart at 150.

I tried to not look, because I wanted so desperately to love this car, but these flaws jumped out at me. I’ve been waiting for this car since 1996. Again, I know this is only a prototype, but it looks like a very poorly assemble kit car. If the actually production cars are not seriously improved, there is no way one will end up in my garage. If what I could easily see looked so poorly assembled, I can’t imagine (and don’t want to) see what I couldn’t.

What really amazes me is that no one has mentioned this. Even the road testers have ignored this. Is it a case of the Emperor’s new clothes? Granted, it’s not a luxury car and does not have creature comforts, but what it does have should be of high quality and durability.

It was like getting a date with Cindy Crawford and finding out she farts continuously. Some things can’t be overlooked. I’m sure some guys would put up with the smell. I guess I’m not that desperate.

Please tell me that the “real” cars will be tremendously improved.
 

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JohnnyQuest said:
Have you ever lusted after a women (or guy for you women) for a long time and then found out she (he) had bad breath, smoked, drank too much, or anything else that you found really unattractive? That?s what I feel like after 7 years of lust. I drove to Pittsburgh yesterday (4 hours each way) to see the Elise in the flesh. I was worried about it being too small or too cramped so I had to see it and sit in it in person to really know. I actually don?t think it looked that small nor was too difficult to get climb in or out. HOWEVER, I was (and still am) in shock over the fit and finish. This is something I never even questioned or thought about. I know this car (red one) was only a prototype, but it really scared the hell out of me. There was practically nothing that fit right. Now I fully admit that I?m an absolute nut for details (misalignments and rattles drive me crazy), but the Elise reminded me of my Triumphs, except that the fit and finish of the Triumphs was a notch or two above that of the Elise. My 17-year old Alfa GTV6 was immensely better in production quality.

The Elise looked like something from the 60?s in terms of quality. The gaskets of the headlights and turn signals were not entirely flush against the body. All of the black finned pieces (front, side, and back) were askew and they looked so flimsy that I?m sure they could be snapped with one?s fingers. If you run over a rabbit, the front louvers will be destroyed. The doors were not square with the body. The dash material is very cheep looking and the curls up a bit at the joints. The plastic shift shroud (from the photos, I thought it was aluminum) looks like it made of the same gage plastic used to make soda bottles. The thing is fixed by two small exposed Philips head screws, and the whole piece flops around when the shifter is moved. The engine louvers are only glued in place. They were loose on the show car and glue was visible. The leading edge of the soft top did not seal tightly against the corners of the windshield frame. The gas cap looked like it was fabricated in one?s basement with hand tools: the edges are rough and it flops around. The car literally gave me the impression that pieces would fall off at 50 mph and the whole car would come apart at 150.

I tried to not look, because I wanted so desperately to love this car, but these flaws jumped out at me. I?ve been waiting for this car since 1996. Again, I know this is only a prototype, but it looks like a very poorly assemble kit car. If the actually production cars are not seriously improved, there is no way one will end up in my garage. If what I could easily see looked so poorly assembled, I can?t imagine (and don?t want to) see what I couldn?t.

What really amazes me is that no one has mentioned this. Even the road testers have ignored this. Is it a case of the Emperor?s new clothes? Granted, it?s not a luxury car and does not have creature comforts, but what it does have should be of high quality and durability.

It was like getting a date with Cindy Crawford and finding out she farts continuously. Some things can?t be overlooked. I?m sure some guys would put up with the smell. I guess I?m not that desperate.

Please tell me that the ?real? cars will be tremendously improved.
Remember these three famous sayings: 'Remember The Alamo!', 'Remember The Maine!' and
'Remember That LOTUS stands for, 'Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious'. P.S.- Keep your tool kit handy!
 

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Geeeez! This is not reassuring. I would almost think that this post was a conspiracy to get people to drop out and further up ones position. However he's already in the first shipment. Why hasn't anyone else spoken out about this. I agree with him in that this car is a spartan vehicle, however what is there should be of good quality. It's a 40K+ car. That aint cheap. Yeah I know its got some good numbers on paper, but so do go-karts and they dont cost anywhere near 40K. :confused:
 

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I get it - you are trying to get people to drop off the list so you can move up - well it is NOT going to work!:p
 

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The yellow car I saw at the Chicago auto show was built very well, or at least I thought so. It had of course been beaten up pretty badly at the LA auto show, but I didn't see anything wrong with the build quality. Granted, it's no BMW... but did you expect it to be?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Mike,
That's interesting. I wonder if the yellow and red cars were built at different time. That seems unlikely. No, I wouldn't insist on BMW quality (and my Z4 is good but not perfect). I would insist on Alfa quality (oxymoron?) or at least American car standards (as low as they are).
 

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Many have noted this in road tests, but if is often omitted because these facts are thought be known by the general Elise-buying contingent. Sorry if you had a rude awakening. My tester car was particulary loose feeling (Euro version). It did feel similar to a kit car.

Your Z4 is a luxury car, believe it or not. It's for boulevard cruising. I drive a Mercedes right now. There are things that we come to expect like perfect Nappa leather, tight seams, and smoothly operating interor bits in luxury cars. Lotus doesn't make luxury cars. ;) With the Elise, you make a tradeoff. And take it from someone who has driven one before...you won't give a damn about all these little things once you start driving the car. Our cars will be the best built Elises thus far, and yet I was still ready to buy the car after driving around in a Euro Elise that literally crashed down on bumps and rattled to death. If you want Porsche build quality, then buy a Porsche, but they don't make sports cars either.

Production build quality may be a little better...but don't expect a revelation. The good news is that Lotus has rolled out the 111R in Europe first, in an effort to reduce some of the initial problems when building a new model. The autoshow cars do not use production materials necessarily. Being #8 does put you in a precarious situation, because it will be hard to see production versions before yours comes in. Why don't you trade with someone in the second batch of orders to be safe? A couple months may be worth the peace of mind.
 

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I agree with Ron. Based on my experience, Lotus cars can be very poorly built. I've even seen cars that were built in the same year of production have variations due to changes in parts suppliers.

All part of the charm of the Lotus...
 

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I've been thinking about the same things ever since I started lusting for an Elise years ago and here's what I've come up with now that I've sat and played inside an Elise for a few minutes.

1) It's a prototype. This means a) it might not be up to full quality standards and b) everybody and their brother has wiggled that same thing you wiggled and found loose. I'd like to believe that a company would make a prototype that they are going to trot out there be up to full quality standards. Even if it is, point b) is important...I have had cars run just fine for me for years and the instant a friend starts using it it dies or stuff starts breaking. So not only might that thing be loose due to thousands of wiggles...many of those wiggle likely are more violent than anything you would ever subject your car to.

2) It's a Lotus. Stuff is going to fall off of it. It is $40K because it is handmade, has a bonded aluminum frame, has a trick suspension, etc etc. When you buy a BMW a higher fraction of the money you pay is going toward fit and finish. If some rattly stuff in the interior is going to bug the dickens out of you you might not be happy in this car.

I have loved my Spyder while other people with the same experiences that I've had have hated it. I think it comes down to knowing what the car designers/makers intend the car to do and making sure that that fits with what you want.

Nochmal
00 Liquid Silver MR2 Spyder
 

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If you are seriously having doubts, beforre you spend the money it might be worth your while to find a cheap flight to the UK. You can spend some time checking out the 111R... You can also rent an elise for a few days there, but I suspect those rental cars are abused so may have more than their share of rattles and other issues....
 

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I don't know, I've looked at all the Elises very carefully from S1 all the way through, without a doubt build quality on the US cars is best yet.

I found the fit and finish of all the cars to be quite good. seems even etc. I've looked at the show cars in the LA show and outdoor light as well and don't find all the horrors you describe.

Having said that, the red car was damaged in being air freighted from UK to LA. A local body shop had to do some last minute major repair to the back end.

Will the car have the fit and finish of a mercedes? Doubt it. Is the car going to rattle. I suspect it will that tub frame is bound to rattle after it gets miles on it, especially the sport suspension cars.

JQ, I don't really know your expectations. You might reconsider your position and trade to someone further down the line.

Chris
 

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I really think if build quality and realiability are going to be your chief requirements a Z4, Boxster, Miata, or S2000 may be a better choice. I have no idea how much better Federal Elise build quality will be, but I have heard the "we have the quality right this time" from the Europa days and it's not there yet. And I don't expect that the build quality will be up to other main stream manufactures this time. Oh well, I loved the Europa and put up with the problems and don't expect anything different form the Elise. If it tuns out that Lotus has the quality thing down than that will be upside for me.
 

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I did not see the same issues you reported other than the loose shifter housing thing.
 

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I drove the Euro car, and have had a small drive in the Fed. Elise. The Fed. Elise is a way better car. I honestly don't think you've had enough exposure to this car. It's a vast improvement on what it was. The shift housing does suck, but that's it. This car is hot. If you don't like it, don't buy it. It won't get much better when the real cars get here. Get use to it. No offense. I see this all the time on the S2K boards. If a car is for you, you will know it. If it's not, you'll know that too. Seems like this car is not for you. It's not a BMW and isn't suppose to be a touring car. If you try to talk yourself into liking it, you will be very unhappy once you own it.
 

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Call it what you will, but I like to think of the fit and finish issues as part fo the "eccentricities" of Lotus ownership. Having owned a '65 Elan, I'm intimately familiar with them...

If you don't think you can learn to love those eccentricities, please do not buy an Elise. The last thing Lotus needs is for a bunch of former Camry owners to start spreading the word about how poorly the Elise is made.

Do us all a favor and go buy a S2000.

Some people just don't get it. And that's fine, I wouldn't want it any other way.
 

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Keep in mind that Lotus cobbled these cars together for the LA Auto Show. The interior details hadn't even been finalized, so why would they bother to have production quality on the vehicles? Even so, if you think these cars look like kit cars, apparently you haven't seen too many kit cars. I don't expect the final version to be as plush as a Honda or BMW, but that's not the point, as others have noted. Personally, I can't imagine owning a Z4 or S2000 after seeing the Elise and driving the Euro spec version. Others may not be able to imagine owning the Elise after the same experiences. Great, more room for the rest of us on the waiting lists.
 

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I have to say, I think it was more of the non-roduction issue with the cars you have seen. The 111S that I drove seemed fine to me. If the Fed car is better then that (which it most certainly will be) then I will be more then happy with the product.
 

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JohnnyQuest said:
Have you ever lusted after a women (or guy for you women) for a long time and then found out she (he) had bad breath, smoked, drank too much, or anything else that you found really unattractive? That’s what I feel like after 7 years of lust. I drove to Pittsburgh yesterday (4 hours each way) to see the Elise in the flesh. I was worried about it being too small or too cramped so I had to see it and sit in it in person to really know. I actually don’t think it looked that small nor was too difficult to get climb in or out. HOWEVER, I was (and still am) in shock over the fit and finish. This is something I never even questioned or thought about. I know this car (red one) was only a prototype, but it really scared the hell out of me. There was practically nothing that fit right. Now I fully admit that I’m an absolute nut for details (misalignments and rattles drive me crazy), but the Elise reminded me of my Triumphs, except that the fit and finish of the Triumphs was a notch or two above that of the Elise. My 17-year old Alfa GTV6 was immensely better in production quality.

The Elise looked like something from the 60’s in terms of quality. The gaskets of the headlights and turn signals were not entirely flush against the body. All of the black finned pieces (front, side, and back) were askew and they looked so flimsy that I’m sure they could be snapped with one’s fingers. If you run over a rabbit, the front louvers will be destroyed. The doors were not square with the body. The dash material is very cheep looking and curls up a bit at the joints. The plastic shift shroud (from the photos, I thought it was aluminum) looks like it's made of the same gage plastic used to make soda bottles. The thing is fixed by two small exposed Philips head screws, and the whole piece flops around when the shifter is moved. The engine louvers are only glued in place. They were loose on the show car and glue was visible. The leading edge of the soft top did not seal tightly against the corners of the windshield frame. The gas cap looked like it was fabricated in one’s basement with hand tools: the edges are rough and it flops around. The car literally gave me the impression that pieces would fall off at 50 mph and the whole car would come apart at 150.

I tried to not look, because I wanted so desperately to love this car, but these flaws jumped out at me. I’ve been waiting for this car since 1996. Again, I know this is only a prototype, but it looks like a very poorly assemble kit car. If the actually production cars are not seriously improved, there is no way one will end up in my garage. If what I could easily see looked so poorly assembled, I can’t imagine (and don’t want to) see what I couldn’t.

What really amazes me is that no one has mentioned this. Even the road testers have ignored this. Is it a case of the Emperor’s new clothes? Granted, it’s not a luxury car and does not have creature comforts, but what it does have should be of high quality and durability.

It was like getting a date with Cindy Crawford and finding out she farts continuously. Some things can’t be overlooked. I’m sure some guys would put up with the smell. I guess I’m not that desperate.

Please tell me that the “real” cars will be tremendously improved.

If you want something with excellent fit and finish, buy a Lexus LS430.....

If you want a pin-sharp sportscar, buy an elise.

The two things are mutually exclusive unless you put your hand a hell of a lot deeper into your pocket.

Craigy
 

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The secret to happiness

The secret to happiness with the Elise, as with anything really, is to manage your expectations appropriately.

This is certainly not a kit car but it is hand made. This obviously implies some inconsistency in fit and finish from one vehicle to the next. Some consider this charming like Cindy Crawford's mole. It's not entirely perfect but that is rather the point. It gives each car character.

Granted with the scrutiny GM put on Lotus for the VX220 build quality has improved markedly but you still cannot expect the kind of repeatable robot built precision you might get with a Lexus. If I wanted that, I'd buy one and be very happy.

I for one am looking for a streetable race car that puts performance first and my relative comfort a distant second. It offers very little in the way of compromises and with the brutal roads here in Ohio I'm expecting more than a few rattles. If I only have a few I'll be thrilled.

I wish you only the best and I hope you enjoy whatever you buy.

Jim
 

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Re: The secret to happiness

This reminds of the Ducaties of old, all through 80's. Handbuilt (still are) and quirky and crappy as hell. But as production proceeded it got much better. Duck's are still handmade, still quirky but a serious blast to ride.
Chris (zvezdah1) has good points about the build quality improving, perhaps that is simply a function of the maturity of the production line. However, it's still a handbuilt car. Built to be driven.
 
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