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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.


 



   



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Author Discussion

PascalBuyens

Original Poster:

2,868 posts

165 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
One thing I found about the Neovas: if you overheat them on track, they're not quite the same anymore afterwards in terms of grip...

Dave Hedgehog

7,024 posts

87 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
i really dislike the elise, exige every time for me

Altrezia

7,371 posts

94 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Cool cars, good choice wink

The Crack Fox

9,632 posts

75 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Nice car, glad to see it being used as Hethel intended, nicely written story too smile

Oddball RS

1,400 posts

101 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Matching floor mats for Christmas?
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Steff

1,375 posts

146 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Dave Hedgehog said:
i really dislike the elise, exige every time for me
laugh they are pretty much identical under the skin

tomoleeds

601 posts

69 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
does not sound a cheap car if you start changing tyres and cambelt, when the car was £9500,and its 13 year old.
am glad its not my money, but top marks for choosing somedthing diffrent and English. Hows the ride ive heard they can be back braking on our roads ?

b14

413 posts

71 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
tomoleeds said:
does not sound a cheap car if you start changing tyres and cambelt, when the car was £9500,and its 13 year old.
am glad its not my money, but top marks for choosing somedthing diffrent and English. Hows the ride ive heard they can be back braking on our roads ?
They ride quite well - stiff but not crashy (if the suspension isn't fked).

They are cheap to run. Every car has its big bills when they are 13 years old - imagine the cost of tyres and cambelt on something like an E39 M5 (available for around £9,500).... (if M5s had belts). They key is that they are very light on consumables, even on track, and light on fuel as well.

They must be driven to be fully appreciated as well - nothing like a nice basic S1 Elise for feel and involvement.

RedWater

483 posts

49 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Good stuff - I look forward to the updates on the L-O-T-U-S plans!

pthelazyjourno

1,621 posts

52 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
tomoleeds said:
does not sound a cheap car if you start changing tyres and cambelt, when the car was £9500,and its 13 year old.
am glad its not my money, but top marks for choosing somedthing diffrent and English. Hows the ride ive heard they can be back braking on our roads ?
There's a man with an Audi - known for being utterly incompetent when it comes to ride, damper and spring settings - pointing out that a Lotus is known for being back braking [sic]?

They're bloody noisy, especially when going over bumps and potholes, but you'll struggle to find any other sportscar that rides anywhere near as well. You certainly won't find a sporty Audi that does.

As to whether it's good value or not, it doesn't have anything to do with the age of the car or what bills are coming up - it's totally dependent on what people are willing to pay. If the average price is £6k, then this car is overpriced. If it's £12k, then it's great value...

AdamLoewy

60 posts

77 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
One of these used to live on my old road in Clapham and those exotic curves always looked fantastic.

Love the target audience of the article and writing style. Pistonheads plus vajazzle.

Looking forward to further updates.

X5TUU

256 posts

70 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Awesome, love these and will be reading with baited breath

Would love to run either an Elise or Élan at some point in the near future smile

juansolo

2,731 posts

161 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
The best S1 Elise built. Don't be tempted to go mental with upgrades and ruin it...

Richard A

124 posts

59 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Dave Hedgehog said:
i really dislike the elise, exige every time for me
You're absolutely right, I hate mine. Off the shelf standard (VVC) engine which you can rev to the max without having to rebuild frequently, easy to operate open top (if you have half a brain) for intoxicating Alpine drives and keeping (reasonably) cool in the summer and decent luggage space for a couple of weeks pan-European yomping. Why did I buy a dislikeable Elise, when I could have had an Exige with its faux structural bolted in place hard top and vague, booty sort of arrangement?

cabbron

377 posts

100 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
nice car and write up-they are infectious.

HeMightBeBanned

187 posts

61 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Abbeville is an awesome circuit to learn how your Elise handles smile Enjoy the Nitron NTR's too - an excellent choice. They sharpen up the handling without buggering up the ride quality.

A nice complement for that 135 head is a set of Piper 633 cams (you'll need vernier pulleys) and a good 4-2-1 manifold (EBD or Piper) as the standard one is rubbish. It'll all make the car much happier to rev whilst not buggering up the low down torque.

Enjoy it. You've got a lovely car.

Defcon5

4,537 posts

74 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
'They are the ex-hot-hatch-owners-running-a-RWD-sportscar-on-a-shoestring-that's-not-an-MX-5'


Would they not buy an NA VX220 for a few grand less?

Addymk2

184 posts

55 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Defcon5 said:
'They are the ex-hot-hatch-owners-running-a-RWD-sportscar-on-a-shoestring-that's-not-an-MX-5'


Would they not buy an NA VX220 for a few grand less?
They would and are seriously contemplating it. It just seems like a much better proposition. Better value and more civilised.

Also cheaper to insure by a decent whack.

1981linley

937 posts

30 months

[news] 
Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
Some serious man maths involved throughout the article...love it! Great purchase....enjoy.

lou_m

56 posts

129 months

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Wednesday 29th February 2012 quote quote all
I thought about going down the Elise route but in the end bought a VX Turbo. The difference in straight line speed is massive although mine is tweeked. I still get between 32 and 37 mpg which for a car with the same power to weight ratio of a Ferrari 360 isn't too bad.
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