When it is running sweet, and more often than not it is, the driving experience is so pure, so involving, that it quickly gets back under my skin. I can't think of nothing else for the initial outlay and running costs that offers such a special driving experience. Which is why it's still parked outside after three years.
One of those timely reminders came at Goodwood in mid-December for the PistonHeads track day. It's not a circuit I'd been round in the past, so with zero track knowledge, a worrying lack of run-off and possibly the coldest, dampest, greasiest surface I've ever encountered, I turned to a piece of advice that had lodged in my brain - from where I don't recall - 'Goodwood should be treated as you would drive a country road'. It became my mantra for the day, further moderated by Mr Harris's recent revelation that the Elise is the most dangerous car he's ever driven in the wet.
Then people began falling off. The red flags started flying and I continued crawling, ever more desperate not to join them. Grip improved slightly around mid-afternoon, and although a dry line was still a dream, this gave me the confidence to brake harder and later and carry more speed into St Marys, Lavant and Woodcote. Sketchy? Yes. Exhilarating? Hell yeah!
It was far from ideal conditions for a lightweight, mid-engine sports car with no driver aids, but did that stop me from thoroughly enjoying every minute? Not a chance. It's a circuit that rewards flow, something that comes so naturally to the Lotus. And while my Elise was built in 1998, there's something about these little plastic cars that seem to be perfectly at home amongst Goodwood's heritage. Going back when it's dry is now a priority.
Fitting wasn't actually that bad, but inevitably it ended up a gnat's cock off-centre; something I've been trying to rectify ever since. But aside from that, I'm really happy with it.
My other bargain eBay purchase was a brand new upgraded toe-link kit. This is something I've been meaning to do for ages, but keep getting distracted by vital upgrades such as steering wheels... Secured for £200, a healthy saving over retail, it was back down the A3 to Steff at Analogue Automotive to get them fitted. What I only found out when the old ones came off, was that Lotus's recall had never been carried out on my car, increasing the chances of, what could have been, a pretty significant failure.
Finally, I've learned that for all the construction similarities with a canoe, an Elise doesn't float. When you unintentionally drive into deep water (because it's dark and you've got a queue of traffic behind you), what actually happens is that a bow wave breaks over the bonnet, the aluminium tub becomes a paddling pool and enough steam comes off the radiator makes it look like you've driven into a Turkish bath. Astonishingly, everything still works though. Even the heater.
Car: 1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Kept it on the black stuff at Goodwood, submerged it on the way home from fixing the heater.
For speed add lightness, to wallet in this case
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