1998 Lotus Elise S1

44,553 mi
156 BHP



  • Tuned to 153hp which, with a weight of just 723kg, makes for quite the power to weight ratio
  • Low mileage
  • Cylinder head upgrade and four-branch stainless exhaust
  • Recent cambelt change
  • Supplied with a fresh MOT


When exactly was it last possible to produce a lightweight sportscar which was genuinely accessible to everyone? There’s a good argument to be made that the 1990s were the final heyday of the classic British sportscar, and that the Lotus Elise was the embodiment of this long history of going faster without resorting to mere brute force.

The Elise we see here is a Series 1 car from the model’s early production years when it was arguably in its purest and lightest form - which makes them quite sought after today. It has benefitted from a few performance upgrades over the years, including an improved cylinder head, exhaust, and individual throttle bodies. Accompanying paperwork from a couple of dyno tests shows that it is now capable of 153hp, with a torque figure of 128 lb ft. This is a hefty improvement on the original 116 hp, and still in a car which weighs just 723 kg.

Clearly this car has been enjoyed as intended, but the sub-45,000 mileage is still reassuringly low for a car of this age, and a recent service included a cambelt change. The Azure paintwork is a fabulous colour choice, but previous owners have already gone to the trouble of acquiring a few stonechips, so you can jump in and drive without worrying about preserving precious paintwork. These cars were built to be enjoyed after all.

So if you’re looking for a fun way to liven up your daily commute, or if you’d rather head out into the country lanes for a summer weekend drive, then this Elise would be a fantastic choice. And with its light weight and bumped-up power output you might surprise a few drivers of bigger, more powerful cars.

History and documentation

  • Registered 13 Feb 1998
  • Stamped service book with services as follows: Oct 1998 @ 1,341 miles, Sep 2000 @ 10,357 miles, Sep 2002 @ 14,738 miles, Aug 2004 @ 17,692 miles, Oct 2006 @ 28,669miles, Apr 2008 @ 35,241 miles, Jul 2009 @ 37,547 miles
  • Most recently serviced in July 2023 @ 44,553 miles
  • Original owner’s documents
  • Dynamometer reports
  • ECU operating manual
  • Momo steering wheel documentation
  • Collection of invoices and old MOT certificates on file
  • Two keys, and one alarm fob
  • Cobra Car Alarms installation certificate
  • Current MOT with no advisories expires 4 Jul 2024
  • The car will come with a fresh MOT upon sale
  • V5 present in owner’s name
  • HPI clear


  • This Elise features a simple, pared back interior trim for added lightness
  • Cream leather bucket seats
  • The leather is generally very clean, with only light signs of use
  • Luke four-point harnesses
  • Storage netting behind seats
  • Momo steering wheel with suede trim
  • There is a little peeling on the instrument cluster, which won’t affect its use
  • Some small areas of bubbling on the dashboard
  • ‘Elise’ branded manual window winders
  • JVC radio/CD player
  • There is a small storage boot to the rear


  • Finished in an attractive shade of Azure blue paintwork
  • There are some chips in the original paintwork, particularly on the front bumper and the leading edges of the rear wheel arches
  • The body panels generally look very presentable, with good shut lines
  • Five-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels, painted black
  • The car comes with a second set of wheels and tyres
  • There is a little delamination on the leading edge of the windscreen, but this does not affect the driver’s view
  • The underside of the car looks very clean for its age
  • The lamp lenses look clear and bright


  • 1,796cc four-cylinder Rover K-series engine
  • Five-speed manual transmission
  • Originally producing 116 hp, the engine has received various upgrades, and the ECU has been remapped
  • A dynamometer test in 2020 showed a power output of 153 hp, and torque of 128 lb ft
  • At the most recent service in July 2023, the car received an engine oil change, new spark plugs, engine flush, new cambelt, water pump, and auxiliary belt, radiator fan, exhaust manifold gasket
  • In 2007 the car received a cylinder head upgrade, individual throttle bodies, and a four-branch stainless steel exhaust manifold
  • The suspension remains unmodified
  • There is some surface corrosion on the suspension components, as usual for a car of this age
  • The vendor reports some tappet noise, which is said to be typical for a K-series engine
  • On startup, the car takes a minute to warm up and settle into a stable idle
  • The engine bay generally looks clean and tidy


Overall this is a very usable example of an early Elise. It’s not going to win any concourse events, but if you’re here for the pure driving pleasure then you’ll appreciate the increased power output and lightweight design. Recent servicing provides added reassurance, and the mileage remains sensible.

Over time, if the appreciation of S1 Elises continues to accumulate, then you might want to take care of the cosmetics. In the meantime, this is a car that can be thoroughly enjoyed.

The car will be available for viewing from 27-30 June. To arrange a viewing, please request this in the Q&A section. You can click through to the seller's profile and use the 'Email Me' function to arrange a viewing privately. This seller is located near Belper, Derbyshire.

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