It's been so long since my last update on the Elise, I feel it may be useful to give you a quick recap of where we are. A little bit like they do at the start of Homeland, albeit without the creepy jazz music and epileptic editing. It was early August, at the Bedford Autodrome, when the battery warning light came on. As everything electric was working fine and it started without a problem, I convinced myself the warning light was telling porkies and blundered on. And on. And on a bit more, lapping all afternoon in fact. Then I managed to drive 99.9 per cent of the journey home to Surrey. It was only on leaving the M25 that the car started to cough and splutter like it had been chain-smoking woodbines. On a short rise, not half a mile from my house, it threw in the towel. Ah, that'll be the battery dead then.
Improvisation required to get it to the workshop
I got it recovered home, but with the battery flat and the cause of the problem probably alternator related, my next challenge was to actually get it somewhere to be fixed. That's when work started to get busy with a trip to the cycling industry's biggest trade show immediately followed by a press launch in Austria. The Elise would have to wait until I was back in the country before I could get it fixed.
And then I went and broke my thumb. Not a particularly spectacular injury, I'll agree, but, with my entire hand in subsequently in a cast for the next eight weeks, it was definitely an inconvenient one. I couldn't ride my bike, I couldn't get the plaster wet (which led to an unfortunate Hitler impression every time I took a shower) and driving was forbidden. So, both the Elise and I spent the next two months broken and incapacitated.
Car and thumb fixed time to get reacquainted
The cast came off a couple of weeks ago. At about the same time I had a very kind offer from Stef at Analogue Automotive; he'd pop up to my house and fit a new alternator roadside. We arranged a day and I ordered the new alternator and battery, but then the weather turned. It was tipping it down when he turned up and, disappointingly, he wasn't too keen to lie in the road, getting wet, playing with electrics. So, we decided to plug the new battery in and hope there was enough juice to nurse the car back to his workshop.
Well, that was the plan. Except we hadn't reckoned on one of the bolts holding it place having seized. Back to square one. It was time for drastic action; it was time to get ghetto. By removing the washer bottle and a few bits of cowling Stef created enough space to piggy-back the new battery on top of the old one. It wasn't pretty, but it got the car back to his workshop.
For speed add lightness, to wallet in this case
A week later it was ready. As suspected the alternator was toast, and Stef had also found an air leak from the inlet manifold that seemed to have sprung out of nowhere. A new gasket sorted that out, and with the annual service window looming, I figured he may as well give it the once over too. It had been three months since I'd driven it, so being reunited again was fantastic. It was looking immaculate and running perfectly. So much so that I took it straight out for a blast around Sussex and Kent to blow away the cobwebs.
Unfortunately - why is there always a downside? - the new alternator, battery, service, labour and (joy of joys) my insurance renewal, means that, although the Elise feels great, my wallet has been left well and truly Chapman'ed this month.
Car: 1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Power restored and enthusiasm recharged counterbalanced by finances drained
Suspension fettling brings results, just in time for the alternator to go pop
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