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Wednesday 29th February 2012


PH FLEET INTRO: LOTUS ELISE SPORT 135

A Lotus joins the PH Fleet - but will it prove lots of trouble?


If this Elise looks familiar, it's probably because it was featured as a PH Carpool only recently. And it seems that it went down reasonably well, because Editor Trent has offered it a spot on the PH Fleet. And I've accepted, although that was before reading about Dan's joyride in Julian Perry's stunning 964RS. I haven't read the small print of my contract, but I do remember a casual "you should try my Eunos", to which I responded with a friendly "well, of course you can have a spin in the Elise". Yes, I actually used the word spin.

Hardtop is actually removable - y'hear Milner?
Hardtop is actually removable - y'hear Milner?
But, back to the present, and there are, apparently, more than a few of you out there interested in 15-year old British sports cars among Pistonheads' incredibly diverse demographic.

Specifically, I've narrowed down my target audience. They are the ex-hot-hatch-owners-running-a-RWD-sportscar-on-a-shoestring-that's-not-an-MX-5. If I can't engage with them I'm in serious jeopardy, and I'll just have to resort to mentioning Mazdas in every paragraph. Apparently this is recommended for 'search engine optimisation' purposes anyway.

Now I can't match Dale and his project RX-(sub)8 when it comes to a long-term goal for my Lotus, but I do have a few plans for the coming months. All of these are catalogued on my L-O-T-U-S list. That stands for Laughably Optimistic Trackday and Upgrade Schedule. Top of the list, and booked in for next week, is a big treat for all the tucked away bits that you can't see. I've dubbed it the suspension vajazzle.

Fruit Pastille lights a delightful S1 detail
Fruit Pastille lights a delightful S1 detail
First up, the rusty old wishbones are coming off. All the bushings and balljoints are going in the bin, and then a lovely set of freshly stripped and plated wishbones slotted in. Finally, new bushings, balljoints and Nitron's gorgeous NTR Fast Road shocks will be installed and the whole thing given a geo.

I've got to say I'm very excited about the whole thing. Fitting those new one-way adjustable dampers, in place of the 30,000-mile Bilsteins, would be considered a substantial upgrade on their own, but refreshing all these teenage components together should add up to something really significant. And with so much of the undercarriage cleaned up and looking spanky at the end of it, I'll no longer think of my Elise as a bit of an armadillo.

Popular Advan Neovas are Lotus specific
Popular Advan Neovas are Lotus specific
Last month saw the other major constituent of the handling equation finally sorted out. Having scoured the classifieds, I found a set of Yokohama Advan Neova LTS (that's the designation for a Lotus-specific tyre) in S1 Sizes for £240. Fitting added another £60, but selling the old tyres clawed me back £100, making the net cost just £200 for a full-set of virtually new and well-recommended tyres. Billy bargain. Of course, being a bloke, I've already mentally earmarked the £400 saving on trackdays.

Which neatly brings me to where I'll be driving it. As a weekend toy on a limited mileage policy, I'll have to be a little miserly with the epic road trips, nevertheless the first bon voyage I have planned is next month in northern France for a Lotus on Track day at Abbeville.

This is attractive for several reasons. Firstly at £99 it is cheap. Even factoring the cost of the crossing it's good value for money as the track is only an hour from Calais. It'll also make a change from the tedious journey to Bedford or Oulton Park. Then there is the French disdain for rules. Well, not at the behest of safety I hasten to add, but from the videos I've seen, they don't seem to take too much offence to a bit of skidding. Which is a bonus. And finally with so many Elises having made an exchange-rate inspired one-way trip to new homes on the Continent in recent years, it will be immensely satisfying to reverse that trend and bring mine back home again.


Fact sheet
Car:
1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Triple whammy of cambelt service, tax and a Lotus owner's number one possession (a valid AA card) dents bank balance, but cash clawed back by saving money on tyre upgrade. Although not quite sure how that works out.


 



   



Author: dzm