Saturday, February 17, 2007

One year later...

I have now officially spent one year with my 2005 Lotus Elise. We bought it one year ago today (yesterday actually, posting this late late at night) from Dave Hampson at Dimmitt Exotics in Clearwater Florida. The sales process consisted of me finding the car online through Autotrader.com, contacting Dave and then flying down with a check a few weeks later. I was extremely worried that there would be some complications but it really was, and has continued to be, a painless process. We flew into Tampa late one night, Dave picked us up the next morning and an hour or so later we drove off with our new Lotus.

The car had right around 110 miles on the clock when we bought it, one year later it is at 14,040 miles. Aside from a few adjustments and a pair of rear tires the Elise has been trouble free. At the first service (Lotus of Atlanta), after much trouble and BS, we were able to have the headlights adjusted under warranty as well as the windows although they didn't really complete the window part. The second service was completely standard with the exception of replacing a lost center cap from one of the rear wheels. The car has been very reliable and has performed flawlessly throughout "mild daily driving" and a few road trips.

Our Lotus Elise has seen a couple of different beaches, some very quick & tight roads, a few tourist traps and even some concrete corn. My wife and I prefer driving it over our other two cars (VW Bug & Jetta). We've both found the Elise to be very comfortable and more than accommodating when you pack wisely. It's road manners are very well sorted and it feels very solid at speed on the expressway. The car draws attention from everyone every time it hits the road, I can't begin to imagine how many camera phone shots there are of this green Elise floating around. Most reviews paint a mixed picture of the Lotus Elise, always praising it's handling & performance but harshly criticizing it's boot space & ingress. This little Lotus isn't for everyone, but it's definitely for us!

Lotus Elise on the beach
We've come a long way since this visit to the beach, about 15 minutes after taking delivery of the Lotus.

Sooo, one year later and these are my thoughts:
What do I love about the Elise?
Simple, the pure connection that it offers between the road & the driver. The car communicates everything with you in a way that had previously been forgotten by everything else on the road.

What would I change about the Elise?
I'd like a bit more power out of the car. It's "just right" now, but another 20 - 30 horsepower would add to the fun without compromising the easy drivability it offers. A supercharger is in this car's future. I can't say when, but this car will definitely have some air stuffed into it's intake manifold before it leaves my hands. Other little upgrades will eventually include aftermarket wheels, a few carbon fiber bits, some drivetrain pieces, etc... My next project is installing XM radio. My wife gave me an XM radio subscription for Valentines day and since the Elise is my roadtrip car of choice it only makes sense to install a cradle for the receiver in it as well.

What is the most common question from onlookers?
"How much does that thing cost?". I get all sorts of questions, the majority of which are inquiries about what it is and who makes Lotus but the one common question thrown into almost every set is the price question. I don't really mind, it just amazes me though how easily people can ask something like that.

Do I still love Krypton Green after living with it for a full year?
Yes. This color never ceases to excite. I think there are some other nice colors (Orange, White, Laser Blue) that fit the car well but this color just looks so amazing in person.

What do I look forward to doing with the Elise in the year to come?
If we end up moving to Orange Beach Alabama then I fully expect to become active in that region's SCCA events. I don't really care for our region (too competitive, too much judging) so a fresh start elsewhere would be great for me. I'd like to head down to Deals Gap / Tail of the Dragon again, maybe run through the Blue Ridge parkway as well. Another Alabama plus is that Barber Motorsports Park is not far from Gulf Shores, if we move then I may be able to attend a couple of events there and finally get some much needed track time.

Any regrets about getting the Elise instead of a turbocharged G35 or Porsche 911 Turbo?
Nope. The only thing close to a regret is that I wouldn't feel "as bad" driving one of those as much as I do the Elise. Since the Elise is a specialty car in a world of special cars it instills a sense of guilt when you get caught in a rain storm or you realize that you're driving it as much as a "regular" car. It's still very much worth it to me though.

Lotus Elise alongside some Graffit art

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Lotus Elise in the snow

Well, Louisville finally got its first real snow the past two days. My area got right around 3" of accumulation last night, turning the driveway into a clean white canvas. Not enough to go sledding but enough to get some cool shots of the Elise in the snow.

Elise in the snow

Lotus Elise in snow

Louisville Lotus Elise

Green Lotus Elise in snow

Krypton Green Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise in the snow

Lotus in snow

Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise rear view

Lotus in the snow

Not much news otherwise, been pretty quiet in Louisville. My birthday was last Saturday, I turned 27 on January 27th in 2007, weird huh. I thought I'd get struck by lightning or something but instead I ended up getting a book on the history of the Elise. Has a ton of cool facts and trivia tidbits in it detailing the S1 and development of the S2 Elise.

One bit of news is our new car. We sold the Subaru Legacy (insurance & gas was killing our finances) and bought a longtime dream car of mine, a 2001 Volkswagen New Beetle in Isotope Green.
Isotope Green New Beetle

Isotope Green VW New Beetle Turbo

Lotus Elise and Volkswagen New Beetle

So why is Isotope Green so important for me? Easy, it's a kick ass limited edition color. There were only about 2000 New Beetles made in this color back in 2001, spanning all of the engines and trim levels available. My 2001 New Beetle is a GLS trim level with a 1.8T motor. The color, in person, looks like glow in the dark green when it's not glowing... A perfect match for the Elise! This is the exact car (even the automatic transmission) that I've wanted since I was delivering pizzas and reading "Performance VW" 6 years ago. The previous owner was the wife of a well known VW enthusiast & VW performance parts supplier so needless to say this thing has had a good life so far. The car is stock aside from an iPod adapter, aftermarket rear wing (in addition to the speed sensitive upper spoiler), european (blue & white) badges and a painted engine cover.

I hate to say it but I haven't driven the Elise since I picked up the Bug, partially because of the obvious weather we've had. It really is THAT fun, a feeling that is much harder to explain than the feeling the Elise brings out. This is going to be a GREAT daily driver!

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