Lotus Elise Sport 135: PH Fleet

Don't get me wrong; I love my Elise. But it's time to face facts. I'm not using it enough, and it's getting to the point where it's difficult to justify ownership of something so lovely when it just sits there idle all the time.

Lots of trouble? Actually, none whatsoever
Lots of trouble? Actually, none whatsoever
The last time I drove it was to get its MOT at the beginning of March. It was a trip of mixed emotions. On the one hand the Elise passed its health check with flying colours. Not even an advisory to blemish the ticket. And this was a day when the VOSA inspectors were paying a visit. But on the way home came the sickening realisation that another great local road had been claimed by the slow creep of the 40mph zone that seems to be spreading virus-like across our rural roads. It's the same indiscriminate NSL cull that took out one of my favourite stretches of Surrey tarmac at the end of last year.

I digress, however, and back to the elephant in the room; my neglected Elise. The problem is, I just don't have time to drive it. Because it's such an impractical device, such a pure indulgence, for me at least, there is no excuse to drive it, other than to drive it. And when those opportunities arise, I'm always reaching for my bike rather than the keys to the Elise. It leaves me guilt-ridden, particularly when I go into the shed to get my bike and see the Lotus calendar hanging on the wall.

It's ready to go, just not getting used
It's ready to go, just not getting used
The irony is I get plenty of chance to drive the UK's best roads. My day job takes me to many of Britain's best mountain biking destinations, places that coincidentally boast its most enjoyable stretches of tarmac. But these trips are usually experienced from the driving seat of a Mercedes Vito; something nice and practical that swallows bikes, cameras and kit bags. Much as I would love to take the Elise on a few of these trips every year, it's simply not an option.

Something with a boot, or even a proper roof, on the other hand would open up the possibilities immensely. So I've been trawling the classifieds trying to come up with something that might fit the bill. My list of requirements is not long, but the resulting list of options is depressingly short: fun, affordable to run, preferably rear-wheel drive, room to carry a bike, preferably in the boot. Given these criteria, a Toyota GT86 or Subaru BRZ would be the obvious solution. I even took a GT86 for a spin, and although it wasn't love at first drive, I could see myself falling for it over time. But at £20K for the cheapest secondhand model they're way over budget unless I go the finance route.

A pity the Merc van is getting more miles
A pity the Merc van is getting more miles
Mention the Toyobaru to anyone in the know and in the next breath you will probably hear the word Cayman. With used values now less than £15K there's no doubt it's the best value Porker around, but fitting a bike inside would be a game of Tetris that could well become tiresome. In addition, and more critically, while it's relatively affordable to buy, I can see the cost of ownership being a different matter.

Of course there are many other options, but nothing sticks out like the Cayman or Toyobaru. In fact, the next most appealing alternative would probably be to go back to something hatchback-shaped. Something from the Renaultsport back catalogue, perhaps a Clio 200 or Megane R26.

It's at this point that my train of thought comes full circle and the other half of me begins pointing out that I'd be mad to get rid of it. After all, it isn't depreciating and it's a lovely example of the S1's most acclaimed editions. So, keep it or flog it and move on?

Fact sheet
1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Breezes through MOT, but faces the uncomfortable truth that it might not be compatible with current lifestyle.

Previous reports
A cry of alarm from the Lotus - just drive me!
To Goodwood in the Elise
Why is the Elise slower on its new suspension then?
Nitron suspension upgrade for Danny's Elise

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (78) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Gadgeroonie 09 May 2013

    Keep the elise - but book some track days in it !

    you will not feel guilty when it comes out to play

    go get a landrover Disco and put your bikes in the boot - you can do some green laning when you find time !

  • McSam 09 May 2013

    Yep, I would say track days are the answer to this one. A definite, booked time that you're gonna take it and drive it as it was intended smile and the side-effect is that you're probably gonna be a lot more likely to use it other times too, once you get hooked again..

  • MikeyBoy2000 09 May 2013

    Keep it - your money is useless sat in the bank and I would suggest you aren't going to lose any more money on what looks like a lovely example of the one of the best Elises out there.

    Trackdays are your church... Go worship!

  • gofasterrosssco 09 May 2013

    Its almost exactly twice the weight of the Elise, and predictably, a substantially different driving experience, but for a GT / Sportcar thing, a used 350Z offers alot for not alot these days...

    Mind you, that bloody rear strut brace may prevent transport of a (fully assembled) bike..!

    I'am going through the same thought processes with my VX220 currently - don't use it enough, and can't justify it sitting there, running 2 cars, when I could get one car (to rule them all).

  • kis 09 May 2013

    z4m Coupe - get a bike in the boot no problems. Can be had for significantly less than 20k and surely more exciting to drive than a gt86.

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