entire suspension refreshed on the Elise. Alongside refurbished wishbones and a full complement of new bushings and balljoints the old Bilstein fixed rate dampers were replaced with Nitron NTR units. These units feature a simple damping adjuster that tunes both compression and rebound in ratio via a single dial. Of course, despite paying a premium for all the bells and whistles I've not touched them since they were fitted.
My trip to Scotland, however, gave me the motivation I needed to, er, get underneath the arches and have a fiddle. On amazing roads, which should have perfectly suited the Elise, I was treading on eggshells. If I'm honest, I've lacked a bit of confidence in the car ever since the suspension was overhauled. Undoubtedly the damping had much more control, and the ride over small bumps was considerably improved, but I always felt that the limits were uncomfortably angular and abrupt, that push too far and it would snap without warning. Consequently I've always been pretty circumspect behind the wheel. This narrowing of the performance window was something alluded to in one of the comments when I took it to Brands Hatch last year, but I'm ashamed to say it's only now that I've gotten around to doing anything about it.
The handling transformation came just in time for an enjoyable (and roofless, you'll be pleased to hear) drive down to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed followed by a track day at Bedford accompanied by an Elise owning colleague. His car is an immaculate S1 TT190 with the Turbo Technics Supercharger kit and it's also running the Nitron NTR damper, but set up much closer to standard ride height, so there's a bit more suspension travel.
But if that sounds like the prefix to another round of upgrades, it's not. I've reached a point where everything seems to be gelling perfectly, and I'd be mad to jeopardise that balance. It's more at home on track than it's ever been - poised, communicative, adjustable - and on the road it's better still. So, does that mean there's harmony at last in our relationship? Sadly no, because on the drive home from Bedford I lost all power and the car spluttered to a halt just half a mile from my house. The likely cause is a melted alternator, but I've yet to get it in for the full diagnosis. Highs and lows; the bread and butter of Lotus ownership.
Track photos by Lee Marshall/MSV Photography
Car: 1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Suspension fettling brings new levels of confidence and enthusiasm, only for the bubble to burst thanks to alternator problems.
Scottish road trip answers 'should I sell?' dilemma
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