On Thursday we celebrated the lightweight British performance car with a £70k Ultima GTR; today we’re back at it again with a sports model located at the very opposite end of the classifieds. This Lotus Elise is up for the rather humbling figure of £9,999, meaning it’s not only the sole S2 to duck under £10k, it’s the only Elise beneath the mark. We could be looking at an excellent candidate for a season of track days, or, as many will have likely already decided, a risky purchase that could bring unforeseen costs.
Let’s take a look at why this car is almost three grand less than the next cheapest S2, which is also a standard 16v that’s only a year younger. For starters, our car has done 98,000 miles, which is a lot for a Lotus, let alone one that upholds Chapman’s obsession with simplicity and lightness so well. Aside from the car’s controls, you’ve not much more than a radio and heater to fiddle with in the cabin, and there isn’t a lot in the way of insulation in these little Lotuses. So fair play to the owners who’ve racked up the miles.
Then there’s the state of the car. It looks tatty to say the least, even the private plate is wonky on the nose and we might have assumed the general brownness to the silver paintwork was a layer of grime, had the seller not suggested a full respray. Inside, the story is much the same; unloved. Although from what we can see, it’s only a bit of TLC away from being sorted. More worrying is the car’s chequered MOT history; there are seven fails, with the first happening back in 2006 – when the car was just five years and 57,563 miles old.
Lots of the issues listed are silly ones that have been rectified, like missing reflectors and driver’s seat bolts that needed tightening. But a crack in the nearside B-pillar and a mention of damaged suspension mounts suggest this car’s had a whack at some point. The seller claims it runs and drives nicely and there’s a fresh 2019 MOT, however, so in the context of a track hack, it could still be fit for purpose. Someone handy with spanners might choose to uprate the suspension anyway, so as long as the car’s straight and true, those Elise handling characteristics should remain.
The beauty of simplicity is there’s less to go wrong, so elsewhere in our early S2 Elise, things look good. We’ve a mid-mounted, naturally aspirated 1.8-litre K-series four-cylinder (these were the pre-Toyota days, remember) producing 122hp. With only 890kg to shift, the car can hit 62mph in 5.6 seconds and, if in good health, flaunt the sort of wonderful balance mid-engined Lotuses through the decades have exhibited. 98,000 miles on such a simple setup ought to be nothing to worry about, so long as the motor’s been serviced correctly.
For a quid under £10,000, you’ve potentially got some budget to give this car the TLC it needs – and selling the private plate might add a few more coins to the pot. If you’re after a nice Elise S2 for the road, you’ll likely be drawn further up the S2 classifieds search. But for someone after the sort of sports car you won’t be scared to send hammering around a circuit each month during the summer, this Elise has to stand out as a worthy candidate for track hackery. Someone, please give it a new (e)lease of life!
SPECIFICATION - LOTUS ELISE S2
Engine: 1,796cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 122@5,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 124@3,500rpm
First registered: 2001
Recorded mileage: 98,000
Price new: £22,995
Yours for: £9,999
See the original advert here