PH Carpool: Lotus Elise

Phil Barker, (aka pthelazyjourno) introduces us to his S1 Elise. Girls don't like it apparently...apart from that it's all good!


"I bought my S1 Elise a year ago. Initially I was looking for a low-mileage car, but then spotted this one - with 75,000 miles - up at £9500. Too much for a high-miler, but once the price dropped to £8500, less after haggling, I couldn't resist. Yup, you can get them for a lot less, but with recent brakes, exhaust, belts, roof, seats, dampers, bushes, battery and much more (bit like Trigger's broom!), it was worth it for a year's affordable running alone.

"Everything about the S1 is designed to make it light, fast and fun. The Advan Neova tyres offer a silly amount of grip, it turns in quickly and in most cases without understeer, and will surprise those foolish enough to lift off the brakes or throttle mid-corner. It shifts too, at least up to 60mph, and is surprisingly fast for a car with less than 130bhp. It's also easy to unsettle the rear with a heavy right foot when it's raining; with care or deft hands and feet are needed on second-gear roundabouts.

"Part of the appeal of the S1 for me was the interior trim, or lack of. There's a lot less plastic than in the S2, for me it's a nicer place to be. An aluminium tub, bucket seats, the Stack dials, and that's about it. The sills are stupidly high - you can comfortably rest your elbow on the driver's side, but along with the single wiper and raised wings it all adds to the racing-car-in-miniature feel.

"One of the nicest aspects of ownership is the Lotus community. I've made genuine friends through Owners club SELOC, people have gone out of their way to help me, give me lifts, share tools, give up their time, let me park my car on their drives, dispense advice - I really can't praise the experience highly enough. It's also been an invaluable resource when working on my Elise, making it easy to change parts like the radiator or suspension bits.

"The biggest issue is other peoples' misconceptions. It gets seriously annoying defending a car that has never broken down, being repeatedly informed that your pride and joy is 'unreliable', despite the fact it's never once failed to start. As always, the naysayers are those with absolutely no experience or knowledge. They're usually the ones spending thousands of pounds on depreciation instead...

"It does get through consumables quite quickly, though parts are cheap - lots of MG, Rover, Peugeot and Vauxhall bits on there. My recent clutch change at an indie cost £500, my last service £130. I wouldn't fancy running an S1 on a shoestring, though. It's at that age where things will inevitably wear out. I've budgeted between £1000 and £2000 per year. Do the work yourself, and it'll be fine - I changed the radiator myself, costing £300, but have also got the receipt for a similar job, with the previous owner paying over £1000 in labour alone!

"Would I recommend one? Definitely. No journey is uneventful, it's impossible to drive without smiling, and it's even surprisingly practical (aside from the incredibly small doors, lack of internal locking mechanism and windows that ice up on both sides!). Just make sure you're not very tall or rather fat - I've still got the footprints on the dashboard where my dad tried to squeeze in, and that was without the roof in place.

"The roof on mine doesn't leak at all, I can get a set of golf clubs and folding bag in the boot (driver and woods behind the seats), and it's the perfect car now petrol prices have gone up, with 40mpg easily possible. It's also the only car I've owned where random people have offered to buy it for more than I paid, but this one's definitely not for sale!"


P.H. O'meter

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Comments (79) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Mermaid 22 Jun 2011

    "light, fast and fun"

    What's not to like, good write up.

  • chickensoup 22 Jun 2011

    you forgot to review the Sharp stereo

  • Owlwood 22 Jun 2011

    Good write up.

  • The Crack Fox 22 Jun 2011

    Like smile

  • 300bhp/ton 22 Jun 2011

    The S1 is still my preferred Elise visually and the only Elise I'd seriously ever consider owning.

    Nice car and a nice write up there smile

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