So, if all goes well, the Elise will soon have its own six metres squared of concrete to sit on, which is probably the most significant upgrade I've bestowed on it in my tenure, and while very exciting from my perspective, intensely dull to the rest of you. So I'm going to mention something that's sure to get the pulse racing; Singer. And, no, not the one that can deliver a precision overlock stitch.
A few weeks ago I got to experience the ultimate unicorn. The re-imagined made very real, parked right outside my office, and entrusted to the hands of a very good friend.
Whichever way you slice it, there's no escaping the potent desirability of a Singer. Whether the particular commission you are lucky enough to see and touch in the flesh is to your particular taste is irrelevant; the sheer beauty draws you in like a traction beam. And because the shape is so familiar, so iconic, you can allow yourself to be drawn in by one of the tantalizing details - the machined Perspex engine cover, the brushed aluminium wing mirrors, the beautifully dished Fuchs rims, the... well you get the idea - without feeling like you're losing sight of the outline. And then you slowly shuffle around its perimeter, visually joining the dots between these features, while the owner, or in this case custodian, shoots regular glances at his watch.
To look at it is to nourish the eyes, but to ride in it, even sitting in the wrong seat, is to allow the levels of want to spiral out of control. Sadly my ride was just a brief taster, but what I took away was that air-cooled background thrum, a hint of transmission whine, a responsive, inertia-free flywheel, a lack of mass and a car that demands a certain level of competence from its driver.
All of which is unapologetic indulgence, I grant you, but there is also a point to it. Throughout the experience, I couldn't help drawing parallels with something much closer to home; the humble S1. Yes there are numerous, obvious differences, and I don't mind if you think I've taken leave of my senses here, but metaphorically squint a little and essentially you've got two lightweight, manual, effectively rear-engined sports cars that are unequivocally driver-focused.
For a modern supercar the Singer is modestly powered. Likewise, for a contemporary sports car the Elise is puny. For a good lap time, or a smooth, flowing run down a B-road, both require driver skill and a bond between man, or woman, and machine. You can't rely on your right foot and sophisticated electronics to make up for a deficiency in ability. You need to understand its weight balance, respect its shortcomings and learn how to exploit its advantages. On wet days, in the case of the Elise particularly, you have to constantly read the cambers and assess the road surface, which keeps you alert and involved in the process of driving. Sit in a modern car and distractions are everywhere, but the Elise demands your full engagement.
I could go on, but you probably get the point. And while I agree that it's not the most convincing argument, my brief encounter has left me both hopelessly smitten with the gorgeous Singer, and considerably more appreciative of my little Lotus. So while the former has cemented its place in my dream garage, I'm happier than ever that the latter resides on my actual drive (subject to contract, of course).
Car: 1999 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Singing the praises of the little Lotus
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
Elise shows its displeasure at winter weather
Pilgrimage to Hethel and a lap with handling guru Matt Becker
New wheels on and roof off; to Spa!
Handling's sorted, now surely it's time to go faster
Welcome back again old friend!
Sitting comfortably? There's a lot to get through!