You Know You Want To: Lotus Elise S1

By some margin, the best summer car I ever owned was an S1 Elise. Prancing around southern France in mine back in 1998 remains a favourite adventure, even if the clutch became inoperable in the midday sun.

Literally gold-tinted memories of Harris's Elise
Literally gold-tinted memories of Harris's Elise
It was like a high-performance Citroen Mehari – heading back from the beach in wet clobber, not worrying about ruining any trim, because there wasn’t any.

I’m sure my affection for the S1 Elise springs from this time, but however hard I try to like the looks of the subsequent models, I can’t help but prefer the original. There’s a resonance about it that comes from reading those early magazine tests and desperately, desperately wanting one.

Sun-parched, I’m fancying another Elise now. Scouring the classifieds, I’m not sure I want anything other than a 120hp K-Series car – perhaps the Sport 135 at a pinch. This wouldn’t be about going fast and, besides, for all the known K-Series issues it was damned light.

Pricey, but in this weather you know you want to
Pricey, but in this weather you know you want to
My car was Azure Blue, but the one I’ve found in the classifieds is, er, orange. But check out the history. It’s one of the original press cars and the one we best remember being nailed by Richard Burns with the line, “Where’s the power?!”

“Coming in about 12 years," was the answer.

My Elise holy grail is a completely standard, early car, with sports exhaust and aluminium brakes. That includes the standard plastic window winders and the normal gear knob. Plain vanilla, as it left the factory. Hellish in the wet, riddled with problems, but in the sunshine a car you will never forget.

Why you should: The original Elise in all its purity
Why you shouldn't: Pricey

See the original advert here.

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (185) Join the discussion on the forum

  • suffolk009 27 Jul 2012

    I quite agree.

    Top of my current (realistic) wants list. I'll have a plain one in Purple with Cream please.

  • kambites 27 Jul 2012

    13k sounds like an awful lot for a standard S1, whatever condition it's in.

  • 300bhp/ton 27 Jul 2012

    Umm yes please... I do keep debating with myself if I should sell the Roadster and get one of these instead...

  • srob 27 Jul 2012

    Had a boggo Azure blue one which I loved.

    Would like a Chrome Orange one, as that was the colour I always lusted after when they were being built smile

  • deltashad 27 Jul 2012

    suffolk009 said:
    I quite agree.

    Top of my current (realistic) wants list. I'll have a plain one in Purple with Cream please.
    Me and the misses discussed this yesterday, it would have to be purple though, it's the only way she'd agree to one. Reasonable MPG, and all the other benefits smile Great car.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment