Hello, welcome back to my kitchen table, and welcome to the latest article, and have I got a treat for you today. As the headline suggests, it is now possible to buy a genuine Lotus Elise Series One for the same price as a 2015 Volkswagen Golf. And now I will explain why this is a great deal, and why you should snap it up as quickly as possible.
While it is possible to find earlier models that are in the sub- £10,000 range, they are usually hard-driven, high mileage cars that have been run into the ground and completely torn out. All of that considered, a good place to start would be a 1998 2dr 1.8 convertible. Generally, the ones in the best condition go for around £15,000, but will a bit of digging around the classifieds and second hand websites, you will find some fine examples for the price bracket that I have already outlined.
The Rover K-Series block in the Elise is usually a reliable engine, though the early cars (chiefly the MGF) had a history of blown head gaskets due to the engine overheating. Make sure if you buy this car, to keep the coolant topped up, and see about replacing the intake manifold, as the problem was caused by the coolant leaking through the manifold. Make sure the car is serviced regularly, preferably every 9,000 miles. Also, consider changing the exhaust, as they are susceptible to rusting as the cars, even the later ones (1998-2001).
3- Cost to run
Even though it is a race-developed track car, the Elise won’t be hard on your wallet. The most economical 1.8i model has an average economy rate of 30mpg, and a little less from the slightly more powerful 111S. On a track day, this won’t guzzle fuel either, and it works perfectly on normal roads too, which will be no problem with the decent economy.
4- Suspension and brakes
Since the Elise is a light car, it won’t be too hard on it’s suspension, but push it too hard and it will start to give. You might want to watch out for worn anti-roll bar mounts, which can be identified by a scraping noise while driving. The early cars can also suffer from wheel bearing failure. The brakes, if pushed hard on the track, can overheat if pushed too hard.
The five speed gearbox is quick and responsive, despite being in the Rover Metro and managing to be awful and grinding in that car. A poor response from the gearstick may indicate that the linkage is worn or out of place. Another sign would be a stiff clutch, which can cause the throttle bearing to wear.
6- State of the body
Usually when you pick up these cars from a private seller, make sure to check for stone chippings around the bumper. A small amount is usually fine, but an excessive amount is a sign that the car has had a hard life. Even if there is no chipping at all, be wary, as this could be a sign of a respray after a crash. Bodywork scratches and kerbed hubcaps are costly to repair. So always make sure to ask for a full service history before you buy, and never rush into any decision.
I think that the Elise is a joy to drive that will have you smiling all over whenever you take it out. I would recommend that you buy these as quickly as possible before they achieve classic status and the price skyrockets. So please, will you excuse me, I want to take a look at the classifieds……..
Sign in to your Car Throttle accountContinue with Facebook