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Friday 27th July 2012

You Know You Want To: Lotus Elise S1

The sun is (was) out and has got Chris harking back to memories of his S1 Elise, memories he fancies reliving...



By some margin, the best summer car I ever owned was an S1 Elise. Prancing around southern France in mine back in 1998 remains a favourite adventure, even if the clutch became inoperable in the midday sun.

Literally gold-tinted memories of Harris's Elise
Literally gold-tinted memories of Harris's Elise
It was like a high-performance Citroen Mehari – heading back from the beach in wet clobber, not worrying about ruining any trim, because there wasn’t any.

I’m sure my affection for the S1 Elise springs from this time, but however hard I try to like the looks of the subsequent models, I can’t help but prefer the original. There’s a resonance about it that comes from reading those early magazine tests and desperately, desperately wanting one.

Sun-parched, I’m fancying another Elise now. Scouring the classifieds, I’m not sure I want anything other than a 120hp K-Series car – perhaps the Sport 135 at a pinch. This wouldn’t be about going fast and, besides, for all the known K-Series issues it was damned light.

Pricey, but in this weather you know you want to
Pricey, but in this weather you know you want to
My car was Azure Blue, but the one I’ve found in the classifieds is, er, orange. But check out the history. It’s one of the original press cars and the one we best remember being nailed by Richard Burns with the line, “Where’s the power?!”

“Coming in about 12 years," was the answer.

My Elise holy grail is a completely standard, early car, with sports exhaust and aluminium brakes. That includes the standard plastic window winders and the normal gear knob. Plain vanilla, as it left the factory. Hellish in the wet, riddled with problems, but in the sunshine a car you will never forget.


LOTUS ELISE S1
Price:
£12,995
Why you should: The original Elise in all its purity
Why you shouldn't: Pricey

See the original advert here.

Chris Harris
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Author Discussion

suffolk009

Original Poster:

1,031 posts

45 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
I quite agree.

Top of my current (realistic) wants list. I'll have a plain one in Purple with Cream please.

kambites

38,078 posts

101 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
13k sounds like an awful lot for a standard S1, whatever condition it's in.

300bhp/ton

29,629 posts

70 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Umm yes please... I do keep debating with myself if I should sell the Roadster and get one of these instead...

srob

8,768 posts

118 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Had a boggo Azure blue one which I loved.

Would like a Chrome Orange one, as that was the colour I always lusted after when they were being built smile

deltashad

4,658 posts

77 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
suffolk009 said:
I quite agree.

Top of my current (realistic) wants list. I'll have a plain one in Purple with Cream please.
Me and the misses discussed this yesterday, it would have to be purple though, it's the only way she'd agree to one. Reasonable MPG, and all the other benefits smile Great car.
Advertisement

kambites

38,078 posts

101 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Purple is lovely, but oddly rare.

I gave up on trying to find a purple S2 and bought a green one instead.

Davey S2

9,572 posts

134 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
I also had an Azure Blue S1. Great car until the head gasket went and fell out of love with it after that.

Pick of the bunch for me now would be the Standard S2 'S' with the 140 bhp Toyota engine.

Just enough power to have fun without taking the spotlight away from the chassis. It also has a really nice linear power delivery unlike the 190 bhp Toyota in the S2 Exige with the second cam.

kambites

38,078 posts

101 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
I've never understood why people worry about the head gasket. It costs little more than a standard service to replace - if you're covering many miles you could replace it once a year and pay for it with the saving in fuel over almost anything else of similar performance.

thewheelman

2,194 posts

53 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Bloody hell, the example used is vastly over priced.

MagicalTrevor

5,246 posts

109 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
How about a nice S2 111S Chris? Sell you mine!

AyBee

5,944 posts

82 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
thewheelman said:
Bloody hell, the example used is vastly over priced.
yes This, or £1.5k more for a 111R!

Altrezia

7,268 posts

91 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
I really miss my old S1's. Great cars.

kambites

38,078 posts

101 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
AyBee said:
thewheelman said:
Bloody hell, the example used is vastly over priced.
yes This, or £1.5k more for a 111R!
I suspect it wont be long before S1s are worth more than early 111Rs.

LewisR

520 posts

95 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
I used to like these cars until I owned one for 2 1/2 years ('02 S2). After 9 months, the novelty wore off. Was glad to get rid of it in the end. Too noisy, too crashy, too water-leaky, too heaters-don't-work-well-y. Not THAT fast really; took it Germany twice where it was positively outrun by diesel Passat estates and needed ear plugs too.

toon10

1,349 posts

37 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
I never liked the looks of the S1. A bit too girly and cute. The S2 is another matter. If I had a spare few grand, I'd have one in my garage as a 2nd car in a heartbeat.

kambites

38,078 posts

101 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Hoddo said:
What is the cost of getting the HGF repaired? Surely it cannot be that expensive and worse case scenario drop another K series in there......or a Honda unit if funds allow.
About 400 quid, if that's all that needs doing. Considerably less if you're getting the belts done anyway.

Mark-C

1,815 posts

85 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
LewisR said:
I used to like these cars until I owned one for 2 1/2 years ('02 S2). After 9 months, the novelty wore off. Was glad to get rid of it in the end. Too noisy, too crashy, too water-leaky, too heaters-don't-work-well-y. Not THAT fast really; took it Germany twice where it was positively outrun by diesel Passat estates and needed ear plugs too.
If you were being outun by diesel Passat estates you were almost definitely on the wrong sort of road. Elises were not built to be fast in a straight line just bloody great unbeatable fun (and quick ... and occasionally whoops that was hairy) on swoopy back roads.

Mark Benson

2,976 posts

149 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
I had a purple S1 Sport 190 and a S2 Exige n/a, even as a weekend car the S2 was the easier of the cars to live with.

On song, the VHPD engine was spine tingling and the way the car chucked itself down the road was exhilarating, but the worry of when (not if) something would go wrong just made anything other than a quick drive out nerve wracking.

The S2 Exige wasn't quite as quick but really, it was tenths of seconds, nothing to really worry about and I went all over the country in it without a problem. I could take it to track days and be sure of it lasting the day, and with slightly more road-focused tyres (Conti sport 2 instead of the AO48s it wore in summer) it was fun in the winter as well as the summer - the S2 is the car I miss, not the S1.

CraigMST

3,744 posts

45 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Are they really that good?
Are they good dailys or are they more suited to having a work car and the Elise being a drive out/ toy/ track car?

kambites

38,078 posts

101 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
CraigMST said:
Are they really that good?
Are they good dailys or are they more suited to having a work car and the Elise being a drive out/ toy/ track car?
Personally, I wouldn't use an S1 as a daily, although plenty of people do.

My S2 has been fine as a daily though. It's not really much less practical than something like an MX5.
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