Lotus Elise Sport 135: PH Fleet

Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. Well, in my case it turned out to be scalding hot, liquid in form, pink in hue and served to me one Friday evening on the M25. My Elise, it seems, doesn't take kindly to rejection, and last month's contemplation of relegating the Lotus a few of positions down the Pistonheads nav bar, from Fleet to Classifieds, didn't go down to well.

Danny's Lotus spills its guts on the M25
Danny's Lotus spills its guts on the M25
Ironically I was on my way to Wales, for the sole reason of stretching its legs, at the time it happened. The plan was to bunk down for the night at the in-laws near Carmarthen, then take a circuitous route home via the best A- and B-roads of South and Mid-Wales. In the end I didn't even get as far as Leatherhead, one junction down the M25, before the coolant system wet itself. Although, with the benefit of hindsight, it was just as well I didn't make it any further.

Delivered on a flatbed to the Back on Track workshop, a leaking coolant pipe was diagnosed. The problem was typically Lotus; an aftermarket bracket, bolted on to cure the excessive movement of the clutch slave cylinder, had been rubbing on an aluminium coolant pipe until it had worn straight through. Having fitted a new pipe, this time well-protected from chafing, and renewed the coolant, it was given the all clear.

Back up and running time to head north
Back up and running time to head north
Undeterred, I packed the Elise once again a few weeks later and readied her for a second chance. The chance had come to head north, deep into the Cairngorms, for a bike launch. What better way to blow the cobwebs away than a journey through Scotland's most regal landscape? For my Elise, having spent much of its life with a previous owner in Aberdeenshire, it would also mark a return to its former stomping grounds.

A small part of me was wondering whether the Elise would actually make it without the intervention of the fourth emergency service, but my lack of faith proved unfounded. In the event it was my own fortitude that was called into question. Never have I experienced so much discomfort on a long drive. It was a hot day, and dehydration in the cramped furnace of the aluminium cockpit was once again a problem. Fortunately, on hand to take my mind off the pounding headache was a numb posterior and ringing ears. Headphones and Radio 6 Music streamed through my phone offered some escape from the pain cave, but it wasn't until the turn off for Lockerbie, about six hours after setting off from Surrey, that the suffering began to subside.

Focused on scything through the Borders I soon forgot about the heat, the rattles, the lack of padding in the seats and the whine of the fuel pump behind my right ear. Soon, the bond between man and machine began to cure, immersed, as I was, in the Elise's pure mechanical joy. The motorway lows were more than made up for by the minor road highs.

Friends reunited as the Elise returns to Scotland
Friends reunited as the Elise returns to Scotland
As evening fell, the A93 drew me deep into the magnificence of the Cairngorms. An alpine pass in miniature, it alone was worth the many hours of suffering. And by the end of the sweeping series of bends that extended out either side of Braemar I was in love with the little Lotus once again.

Returning home was no less brilliant. In fact, thanks to one particular road across the Borders, it was considerably better. I'll leave its numerical designation a secret for now, but in my eyes it was more then a match for the A93. Incredible loch-side flow turned to precision wiggles clinging to the side of a steep hill, and it finished with a magical rollercoaster of gravity-defying yumps. Driving, I thought as yet another selfless local pulled over to give me free rein on the road ahead, doesn't get better than this.

Fact sheet
 1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Bladder problem scuppers Wesh roadtrip, but replacement pipework holds strong for a relationship renewing journey north of the border.

Previous reports
Is it time for the Elise to go?
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

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Comments (75) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Itsallicanafford 25 Jun 2013

    i've always wanted an Elise, but reading this article, compared with my Mk1 MX-5 i'm not so sure that the extra 10% you might experience on the twisty roads is worth the discomfort of getting there. Top-up on a long journey and the 5 is very comfortable.

    and 5 times cheaper to buy, cheaper to insure, cheaper to maintain, better built...

  • Andy75 25 Jun 2013

    I want an S1 so much it hurts! frown Maybe next year I hope. Lovely roads too, thanks for the pics driving

  • Crusoe 25 Jun 2013

    I always go for the yumps rather than the A1 if you are heading south of the border, have to watch out for speed traps on that road though.

  • Contigo 25 Jun 2013

    Here's a pic of my S1. Was good fun but don't miss it one bit!

  • Smitters 25 Jun 2013

    Danny - having done Gloucestershire to Aberdeen in a Caterham, I can tell you that a Camelbak or similar system hung off the back of the drivers seat so there's a tube of refreshing drink to hand is a godsend.

    I'll not deign to discuss the number of miles passed with a left foot on the accelerator simply to engineer a different position for my poor cramped bones. However, you have my sympathies.

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