Monday, September 29, 2008

Lotus Dealer Reviews

I know this blog gets a lot of traffic from people researching the Lotus Elise and trying to determine the best dealer to buy or service their Lotus through. It's that thought that makes me want to relate both the bad and good experiences I've had with a few different Lotus Dealers. I'll start with the most recent and work my way back through time to when I first bought my Lotus Elise.


Diamond Motors, Pensacola Florida

My most recent situation was in April of this year in Pensacola Florida, shortly after the Lotus wreck. The timing and location could not have been more ideal. My family owns two condos in Gulf Shores Alabama (about 40 minutes west of Pensacola Florida) and we were preparing to head down there in early April. About 4 days before we were to leave for vacation I get a call from our insurance adjuster saying that they are declaring the Elise a total loss and that I can drive up to Cincinnati to sign it over and pick up my check. I make plans to do so and immediately start checking out different Lotus Elise and Exige throughout the southeast as a vacation would be the perfect time to pick one up. I was thinking of going with another color, Laser Blue, which I had seen on an Exige during our first dealer service in Atlanta. It didn't take long to find one, and at Diamond Motors in Pensacola of all places!

The price was right, the car looked great in the photos and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. I found it late at night so my first attempt at communication was an email. I followed up the next day (and following days) by phone, always reaching an answering machine. I went ahead and packed my checkbook in with our luggage on the hope that I would eventually make contact with Diamond Motors and we'd be driving a Laser Blue Elise on the way home.

We arrive in Gulf Shores mid day on Sunday and Monday morning I wake up and immediately try to call Diamond Motors with still no luck. Going on optimism we go ahead and make the 40-45 minute drive over to Pensacola to see the car in person as it was still shown on Åutotrader, along with a silver Exige S. We arrive in Pensacola only to find a car lot with a few familiar cars from Autotrader but not a single Lotus. Again, taking the optimistic approach (after checking the Autotrader ad AGAIN on my iPhone) I think "maybe they keep the Lotus cars at a separate location" and head inside to ask about them. I go inside only to find no one working, but I do notice a model of an S1 Elise and a couple of Lotus books, now my optimism is going up a notch. I head back outside and look at a few other cars while I wait for the only person working (owner I assume) to finish up with a family. It's at this point that I start to notice that every car I look at is very noticeably dirty on the outside and the interiors are in desperate need of a vacuum and a good wiping down. Now I start to get nervous, thinking back to some auction cars I've been around as these have those same characteristics.

Finally the owner finishes up with the other family and I'm able to get his attention (although I HAD to get his attention, otherwise he was ignoring us) and am able to ask about the Lotus' for sale. He quickly says "those sold last week" and as I ask why they are still on Autotrader he smugly laughs and says he doesn't know why. I then explain my frustration that we've essentially come all the way down from Kentucky and had changed our travel plans to accommodate bringing a Lotus Elise home, mention the dozen or so unanswered calls & emails and all I got was a shrug. He finally did mention that "he might have an Elise coming in the next week or so". At that point I didn't care and judging from the other cars on the lot I asked if it was bright green with fresh paint. The real rub came a couple of weeks later when I noticed that the Elise was STILL for sale on Autotrader. I got the strong feeling that the Elise and Exige were left on to lure people onto the lot as they are very flashy and surely anyone in the area would love to see one in person.

I mentioned this same story on LotusTalk and after a few months received two comments of much worse dealings with Diamond Motors in Pensacola Florida.

b.flippo wrote:
I realize that I'm replying 4 months late, but. That's funny. When I was looking for my Elise, I actually bought an Elise from him. I signed his purchase orders, faxed him a copy of the cashiers check from my loan dispersement and booked a flight to Pensacola (also faxed him a copy of my flight itenerary). I received a fax from the owner the day before I was supposed to fly to P-cola telling me that he sold the car to someone else (for more money). He didn't even have the nuts to call me in person. "He broke up with me by fax". Crooks! The funny thing is, after I bought my Elise, I saw his Elise back on Autotrader/Ebay. His buyer had flaked, and the car was back on the market. The best part was that he was asking $2500 less than I had agreed to pay. Frankly, the only thing that made me angry were the comments he made when I called him. He told me "tough sh!% it's the car business" and to go f%(# myself. I was flabbergasted, especially since I'm in the car business! I couldn't imagine ever telling a customer anything like that (even the customers that deserve it). I'll say it again. Diamond Motors and Bill Weatherall are crooks and scumbags.

Joecooool wrote:
Diamond Motorcars - Bill Weatherall Pensacola

Be careful dealing with this guy, he is a title floater. He sells Lotus cars from time to time, he had several Elises and an Exige on his lot while I was there.

I bought my Lotus from him off eBay in January. His eBay id is flyguy66y. He told me the car was paid for, that he was just waiting for the electronic title to be released. Being a dealer and not some guy on the corner, I took him at his word. I traded him my 2007 Corvette and gave him a check for the car.

After several weeks I got a call from my bank telling me the Corvette wasn't paid off. I still didn't have the title to the Lotus yet either. I called him and he told me that he had been sick and would get everything squared away.

A few weeks later he still had not sent me the Lotus title or paid off my Corvette. I started to leave him negative feed back on ebay when I discovered that he had sold my Corvette less than a week after I had traded it in. I contacted the buyer of my old car and Bill had been lying to him as well. You can imagine his shock when I told him that my bank still owned the car sitting in his driveway.

Long story short, it took me filing a formal complaint with the state of Florida DMV, with the local police department, and threatening to go after his dealer bond before he finally relented and paid off my trade in. I finally got the title to the Lotus and my Corvette paid for about two months after the ordeal began.

Honestly, I think that speaks volumes about this dealer's business practices. I would warn anyone looking for a Lotus Elise or Lotus Exige in Florida to stay as far away as possible from Diamond Motors in Pensacola.

Communication was bad to none, cars were filthy and possibly rebuilt auction cars, deceptive to multiple Lotus owners/buyers


Midwestern Auto Group, Dublin Ohio

Midwestern Auto Group was my Lotus service dealer. They provided some of the BEST automotive and customer service I've ever seen. I would schedule my visits about a week in advance and was always met with a warm welcome as soon as I arrived. They always asked how I was enjoying the Elise, what kind of problems or concerns I would like them to address, etc... They always insisted that I check out some of the cars around the dealer (Ferrari, Bentley, Aston Martin, etc) and always had a nice Saab waiting as a no-cost loaner. On one trip I did require a part that they did not receive in time but they gladly shipped it to me to install myself, assuring me that it wasn't a very involved procedure and shouldn't require my driving 8 - 9 hours roundtrip for them to perform. Andrew Matune, along with the other staff members, always bent over backwards to help in any way possible.

Customer service above and beyond, great loaner car, all needs met and exceeded, overall extremely good experiences


Lotus of Atlanta / The Bimmer Store, Atlanta Georgia

This was my initial Lotus service dealer, performing my 1,500 mile service while on the way home with my Elise. I met up with some Lotus friends at the dealer who were also there for their routing servicing. After checking in the cars and explaining our various issues (mine involved adjusting the headlights and leaking windows) we took our one loaner car (older Ford Taurus that desperately needed a detailing, several stains, etc) and headed to the hotel.

The next day we are heading out to the Atlanta Aquarium when I get the call that my headlight adjustment request was a non-warranty issue and would cost $200+. I dreaded the idea of driving home with them in a still useless state so I tell them to go ahead and adjust them after some arguing. With the help of George (one of my Lotus friends) we track down the proper warranty info for the adjustment and send it over to them. After some arguing and calling of Lotus USA they (Lotus of Atlanta) finally agree to perform it under warranty. A few hours later my car is ready although the other two Lotus cars are still being serviced (with their own frustrations). Upon initial inspection the car looks good but then I notice large gaps on both of my windows, seemingly more so than before. I bring it to their attention and they begrudgingly agree to look at it again.

That night, after their normal closing hours, the cars are finally "finished" and we head off on our way. We stop at a gas station before hopping on the expressway and quickly notice that my passenger side window will no longer go up once it is in the down position. We are frustrated enough that we manage to get it up and just decide to fix it when we get home.

The feelings and issues we left with... Overall we all had a sense of being second class citizens while we were there, it almost seemed as though they thought they were doing us favors by performing the services. We left with a severely misaligned window that obviously had not been tested after adjusting. George & Jennifer left without receiving some of the services and parts they had scheduled 2+ weeks in advance. Lotus USA (their US headquarters) is literally a short drive from Lotus of Atlanta yet the dealer acted as though there was no way they could get parts for the requested services. I guess it could have been worse but we really did have an overall bad experience all the way around.

I only mention the loaner car as it seems odd that a Lamborghini/Lotus/BMW/Mercedes dealer would have such a low level car as a loaner.

Bad customer service, fought us on every issue, loaner car far below rental car standards, unresolved repairs


Dimmitt Lotus, Clearwater Florida

I bought my 2005 Lotus Elise from Dave Hampson at Dimmitt Lotus in Clearwater Florida and could not have had a nicer or easier experience. I started working with Dave about 3 weeks before purchase and he was a pleasure to deal with, answering all of my questions and helping every step of the way. Buying a car (essentially) online can be very scary as you are committing to something you cannot see in person, Dave eliminated those fears. We flew in to Tampa at night and Dave picked us up the next morning. He showed us a few sights around the city on the way to the dealer, telling us about the car as well as the dealer. After meeting some other folks at the dealer we felt very comfortable about the whole transaction.

I would be quick to recommend Dimmitt to anyone looking to purchase a Lotus (or Ferrari / Rolls Royce / Cadillac) in Florida or the southeast in general.

Very professional, warm & welcoming atmosphere, great communication, overall awesome experience


That sums up my experiences with some different Lotus dealers, hopefully it helps anyone looking to purchase a Lotus or find a good service dealer for their Lotus.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

The grand finale...

So I haven't updated the blog in a while, guess I was waiting for a BIG update... The Elise is officially no more. Earlier this year while driving through rural Indiana we came around a tricky corner that sent the car into a spin & into a guardrail. We weren't going excessively fast, nowhere near my or the car's limits, it really was just an odd turn. You come into it after leaving a right hand corner and going uphill, just as the hill crests you are pushing into the left hand section. As we crested the car got really light really quick, enough so to push the rear end out far enough that I couldn't recover.

The photos tell the rest...

Lotus Elise Wrecked

Wrecked Lotus Elise

Lotus Wreck

Lotus Elise Accident

Rear Damage

Rear Elise Damage

Lotus Elise Wreck


Wrecked Lotus Elise

A picture perfect definition of irony...

If you look closely you can see my right turn signal stuck in in the guardrail.

This is the opposite side of the road, you can see just how lucky we are that we didn't go through the rail. The arrow is pointing to a piece of the car which must have been thrown across the road as we spun. You can also see some remains of a Chrysler Crossfire that wrecked here as well as several other random car parts from previous accidents. This is proof that it really is just "one of those bad turns".

So, with all of that said & shown I can officially say that the Lotus Elise is a very safe car. My wife & I both walked away with no injuries whatsoever aside from some expected soreness. Lotus did well when designing the crash structure and other safety bits of the car. The Elise still ran just fine and could have been driveable with the exception of a sheared rear toe link which was caused by the impact. Insurance declared it a total loss after several experts came in to evaluate it. When I stopped in to grab some personal items I noticed they had never removed the rear clam, the front damage & visible rear damage was enough to total it. I guess the high bodywork & labor prices were to blame.

My Lotus Elise with the front clam removed.

Did I get another Lotus Elise? Regrettably, no. I ALMOST ended up with another Elise but after searching for a few weeks I decided that I wanted a bit of a change anyway. Whenever I drove the Elise during the week, in not absolutely awesome weather, I would fee bad about doing so. The Lotus didn't mind but I just had some sort of complex about driving "A Lotus" in anything but the absolute best of conditions. I still drove it, probably way too much, but I still had those thoughts in the back of my mind. But no, no more Lotus Elise for me. I was checking out "options" online, consisting of E30 M3s (an old love of mine), when I came across an E46 BMW M3 in Laguna Seca Blue with black BBS LM's & blacked out trim. Ahh yes, I had forgotten about those...

To make a long story short I chased down a few different Laguna Seca Blue M3s only to find they had been sold or had some accident history. Finally I found a nice example of a 2001 M3 in Birmingham and after a few phone calls and some photos I was on my way down to pick it up. I've now been living with my 2001 BMW M3 for about 4 months now and I can say it's a completely different beast than the Elise. It is quite a few notches down on the "fun factor" but surprisingly it seems to turn as many heads as the Elise did. The M3 makes a nice daily driver and I imagine will be a load of fun during the winter, but I still miss my Elise....

I really really really miss my Lotus Elise.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lotus Elise update

Alright, I know this one is overdue by just a few days (months) or so but it's finally here! I still have the Elise, it is still in great shape and I've had a ton of fun with it.

The first part of the update is actually last year's British Bash.  Every year the British Sports Car Club of Louisville throws the "British Bash" at St Joesephs Childrens Home on Frankfort Ave.  The 2007 British Bash was a great turnout, despite some rainy weather, with several Lotus cars making the trip down from Indianapolis.  If you're near Louisville and love british cars then come on out the first weekend of June.

White Lotus Elan

Red M100 Lotus Elan

British Racing Green Lotus 7

Yellow Lotus Esprit

Yellow Lotus Esprit, Green Lotus Exige, Aubergrine Elise

Yellow Lotus Esprit and British Racing Green Lotus Exige

Yellow Lotus Europa

British Racing Green Lotus Exige

Aubergine Purple Lotus Elise

Close up of Aubergine Purple

After the show I cruised down to River Rd with the Indiana Lotus folks...

Yellow Lotus Esprit and British Racing Green Lotus Exige

Lotus Exige engine

The next little update is on some new additions to the Elise. The Lotus received a new set of Yokohama AD07s at about 20,000 miles. Again, I waited until they were almost completely smooth before replacing them. The front Yokohamas are still very usable with about 40-50% tread left. I think the next time I need to replace them I'm going to go ahead and use a different tire.

The next addition to the Lotus was a ForcedFed carbon fiber front splitter. I used Bill's installation guide for my install and it went very well. The only issue I ran into was not being able to install a bolt on the drivers side because of the oil cooler. I've run it at some high speeds since the installation with no cracks or movement so I think it's probably ok!

ForcedFed Carbon Fiber front spoiler on the Elise

Another fun addition to the Elise was my new personal license plate... FRISKE.

Personal plate on the Lotus

The definition of Frisky is "playful and full of energy". I figured that was appropriate!

The rest of this Lotus update is just a bunch of Elise photos from around the Louisville area. The rolling photos of the Lotus are courtesy of Doug Friedman. He was nice enough to do a quick photo shoot with the Elise while he was in town just before Christmas. The graffiti photos were taken at the Mellwood Arts center.

Lotus Elise photo at Mellwood Arts Center

Krypton Green Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise & Graffiti photo

Rear view of the Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise photo

Top view of the Elise while moving

Side view of the Lotus Elise while moving

The Lotus next to a Hummer

The Lotus Elise, dwarfed by a Hummer

My Lotus Elise in motion, shot by Doug Friedman

Lotus Elise in motion, shot by Doug Friedman

Rolling Lotus Elise photo, shot by Doug Friedman

Rolling Lotus photo, shot by Doug Friedman

And now for the Lotus Elise wallpaper for this post...

Thats pretty much all for now. Lotus announced a supercharged version of the Elise for the 2008 model year. I'm going to try to make my own supercharged Lotus Elise this year as well ;)

More on that later!

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lotus Elise roadtrip

This is another "long overdue" post. My wife and I went to Gulf Shores Alabama back in April for about a week and we decided to take the Elise along for some roadster fun at the beach. Packing for the trip was no different than the other roadtrips we've taken with the Lotus, we just had to leave the soft top on until we arrived in Orange Beach where we could unpack and clear up room to store the top. The Lotus Elise is made (specifically) for curvy roads that test any car's handling ability but it is also a fun car for a 2 day roadtrip down a very straight highway. The downside is trunk space / boot space but as I've said before it's not hard to pack for travelling with it, you just have to be smart about it.

2005 Lotus Elise @ Johnson Beach in Florida, just over the Alabama/Florida border.

We were in Gulf Shores during Spring Break and you could tell. Every restaurant was packed, the main roads were always busy, lots of tuner cars, etc. The Elise was definitely the show stopper wherever it went though. Camera phones were taking pictures, kids were yelling & waving, girls were (ahem) flashing, etc... If you ever want to feel like "somebody", rent an Elise for a day. I can't even begin to count how many times I was asked "How much did that cost?!?" only to be followed by a look of disappointment when I tell them "about $45,000". People were guessing in the $120,000 range for the most part although the high & low guesses were $250,000 and $25,000, respectively.

2005 Lotus Elise at Johnson Beach in Florida.

During the stay I only saw a few other exotics out and about, a red Ferrari 355 Spyder and a silver newer Aston Martin along with a slew of modified 996 & 997 Porsches, unfortunately I wasn't able to photograph any of them. This trip was for relaxation so I didn't worry too much about getting Elise photos, hence why there aren't many in this post. Check back soon though for some photos from a local British car show (British Bash 2007) and some photos I've taken around town.

Krypton Green Lotus Elise on a Florida Beach.

2005 Lotus Elise
2005 Lotus Elise at Florida Beach.

2005 Lotus Elise at Johnson Beach in Florida.

Krypton Green Lotus Elise

2005 Lotus Elise at Perdido Dunes in Gulf Shores Alabama.

Lotus Elise in Gulf Shores Alabama.

2005 Krypton Green Lotus Elise
Top view of a Lotus Elise.

Lotus Elise behind a C6 Corvette at a Florida beach.

Lotus Elise, C6 Corvette and black Subaru WRX.

Rear view of 2005 Lotus Elise.

2005 Lotus Elise behind a C6 Corvette. This photo kinda shows the size of the Elise, it looks like a toy next to the Corvette.

Something I want to start doing is adding a wallpaper to each post, available in the 5 most popular resolution sizes that visit this site. To kick it off...

Lotus Elise on the beach in Florida

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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, 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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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Elise rear towhook installation

Alright folks, heres another highly difficult Lotus Elise modification!

If you recall one of my recent posts you'll see that I recieved a rear towhook from Sector111 for Christmas but had to exchange it for a different style that would work with my car. The new one arrived yesterday and today after washing my car in the freezing cold I had a chance to toss it on the car. The entire installation took about 10 minutes at the most and might have actually been easier than the Zoom Carbon Fiber rearview mirror install. Read on below for the walkthrough.

Lotus Elise rear towhook
This is the "Boomerang" rear towhook from Sector111. It's design allows it to clear exhausts that exit through the rear diffuser, such as the stock exhaust.

Circular felt pads
Some folks on have used pieces of Velcro to prevent the towhook from rattling against the rear diffuser. I picked up these circular felt pads from Target, I think they will work just as well.

Elise towhook with felt pads
This is the area that you might consider placing felt or something else to prevent rattling.

Elise diffuser bolts
You will be removing two 13mm bolts like these from the rear diffuser.

Lotus Elise rear towhook bolts
Click this photo for a detailed shot showing the two bolts you will remove. This is where the towhook mounts to. Simply remove the bolts & washers, run the each bolt through the towhook, place the washer on the other side and tighten them back down in their stock position. Thats it. You don't even have to jack the car up.

Lotus Elise rear towhook installed
The finished product. Hopefully I'll never have to use this but I think it looks kinda neat and if I am in a sticky situation it should help out.

Boomerang towhook installed
View from behind the Lotus. You have to step back about 3-4 feet before you can even tell the hook is there. It sits about flush with the stock exhaust.

Lotus Elise rear end
View from the ground, several feet behind the Elise.

Lotus rear towhook complete
The final shot. The Lotus Elise rear end is already pretty racy but this just adds to it.

Thats it for this update! I'm itching to go out and have a little photoshoot with the Elise so hopefully there will be some cool Lotus Elise photos in the next post.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Top 10 photos, Lotus Elise desktop wallpaper

Due to the overwhelming response from the comments of the last post I had to choose the 10 photos of the Elise from the last year using my own judgement, hopefully you all will like them! I've shown each photo below with the story behind each one and why I chose it. Click on the photos to see a larger version of each photo. Right click on your desired size below the photo and choose save as to download a high resolution wallpaper for your desktop. I made the wallpapers in the 5 most common sizes of the machines that browse this site...

  • 1920x1200 (an iMac resolution I belive ;)

  • 1440x900 (Powerbook/Macbook resolution, good people ;)

  • 1280x1024

  • 1280x800

  • 1024x768

This was taken on a beach alongside a causeway in Clearwater Florida, about 15 minutes after we took delivery of the Elise. This was truly one of the most surreal moments of my life. The whole thing didn't really hit me until a few days later. I've had a few more moments where it kinda hits me but this still stands out as one of those unique moments where you don't have a care in the world, I was just happy with no extra baggage.
Lotus Elise on the beach in Clearwater Florida

This was taken at the public beach in Gulf Shores Alabama during the journey back to Louisville. This has always been one of my favorite photos, I love the perspective and the birds flying above. If I remember correctly this was taken just minutes after my wife realized you could have a 100 seagulls hovering around you if you threw out a little food.
Gulf Shores Alabama Lotus Elise

This photo kinda shows where I'd like to live one day. In parts of the Alabama Gulf Shore you can find clusters of these brightly colored beach houses, each colored differently than the next but always bright and bold. I think a Krypton Green Elise is a good fit for a scene of these houses. The really neat part is that almost all of these neighborhoods were more or less abandoned, made for a very cool feeling as you drive around.
Lotus Elise at Alabama Gulf Shore

This photo might be self explanatory. On the road between Gulf Shores Alabama and Fairhope Alabama there is a large house with a unique gate on it's driveway. The gate consists of a pair of lips, a saxaphone and some other brightly colored stuff. This was taken in front of that gate. The owners, who seem to have it figured out, made their address sign read "The point of it all". I think its pretty fitting.
Lotus Elise in Fairhope Alabama

Just outside of Gulf Shores is an old Fort, Fort Morgan, this was taken on the road out of there. I love the how Elise stands out from the background a bit and that you can make out the curve in the road.
Lotus at Fort Morgan

This just barely made the 2006 cutoff. My favorite pizza place in Louisville, Spinellis Pizza, is opening a new location just up the street from my house and have already brought some color to the place. The graffiti around this place is awesome in person, the photos really don't do it justice.
Elise alongside graffiti art at Spinellis

I almost didn't throw this photo into the mix but it really is one my favorites. Something about the perspective and how it shows a view of the car that is rarely seen. The artwork in the background is pretty cool too!
Lotus and Graffiti Art

I had been wanting to get some cool "Car reflecting in water" shots for a long time now, the opportunity presented itself this year the day after a big storm. Not all of the photos turned out well but there were a few cool ones, this was one of them. If you look closely in the reflection you can see some detail of the Elise' underside.
Lotus Elise reflection

This is the only photo in the bunch that shows the Elise in it's convertible / roadster state. This was the first day that I took the top off. It's not the best photo (quality wise) but I love the stance and feel of the photo. This is also the photo that Autoblog used when they chose the Elise as reader ride of the day.
Lotus Elise convertible

This is yet another photo from Orange Beach Alabama, taken in the state park. Something about the trees reminds me of the ones in those old Dr Suess books. I think the scene in the photo just works, something I rarely manage to do.
Lotus Elise and Trees

Well there you have it, the top 10 photos from this blog over the past year. Hopefully you'll find some nice new wallpapers for your desktop from this collection. This blog will be going through some changes over the next few days. It already has a new url,, soon it will also have a nicer layout as well as some new artwork. Check back in a week or so for Lotus Elise rear towhook installation walkthrough.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas for my Lotus Elise!

Santa hit the jackpot this year! He (through my wife) brought me an Xbox 360 and managed to bring the Lotus a carbon fiber rear view mirror and a couple of tow hooks! The mirror is a Zoom carbon fiber convex rear view mirror from Sector111. It looks cool, provides a better range of vision and is lighter than the stock unit. The tow hooks consist of this package from Sector111. Santa brought me the standard rear tow hook which unfortunately will not work with a diffuser exit exhaust, like the stock exhaust. I've put in an email to Sector111 to ask about exchanging it for the "Boomerang" style tow hook which will work with any exhaust setup, hopefully I'll be able to swap it out within a week or so.

Today was yet another nice, non-freezing day, in Louisville so I took some time to pop some of the new parts on and clean the car up. You can see the walkthroughs for the very simple installs below. Click on the photos to see larger more detailed images.

This is what the Zoom carbon fiber mirror package consists of. The mirror, installation instructions, two allen head wrenches and a cool sticker.

The Zoom mirror seems to be very well crafted. The carbon fiber looks perfect and the mirror is blemish free.

Zoom carbon fiber mirror for the Lotus Elise / Exige.

To remove the stock mirror you need to pull the plastic base surround down a bit to expose this little retaining clip. Once you have it exposed you can compress it with a paint can lid tool or a modified flat head screwdriver like the one below. Just press the clip down as much as possible and slide the mirror towards the front of the car. Be careful to not use too much pressure, a few folks have cracked their windshields doing this.

"Modified" flat head screwdriver.

This is the metal base on the windshield that the new mirror will mount to.

Slide the new Zoom mirror on from the front of the car towards the back and tighten down the allen head screw using the supplied wrench. Thats it, you're done! Pretty easy.

The new mirror takes some getting used to, the convex mirror surface allows you to see almost completely from one side of the car to the other. The objects behind you seem a little further away and the tinted surface gives it a somewhat unnatural look. I like it though, just takes some getting used to.

Zoom carbon fiber mirror from outside the car (excuse the dirty windshield).

The Zoom unit is quite a bit smaller than stock. This really helps in seeing traffic lights and whatnot without having to duck down.

The convex mirror in the Zoom unit makes up for its small size, visibility is greatly increased.

The rear towhook may not be the correct piece but the front one certainly is. Installation of the front tow hook involves unscrewing the plastic plug piece and screwing in the new hook. Hopefully I'll never have to use this but I do think it adds kind of a neat look. Probably won't leave it on all the time but will toss it on for shows and cruises.

Sector111 larger diameter front tow hook.

Freshly washed Lotus Elise.

Finally had a chance to wash and vacuum the Elise. The poor Lotus had sat dirty for about two weeks because of crappy weaher and the holiday rush.

Felt good to get out and get the car cleaned up.

You can see just how much this color changes, just look at the difference in color from the daytime to dusk.

The european 111R decal.

Goofy artsy shot of the car, you can see the 111R decal in this photo as well.

Shot from above the rear showing the Apple decal on my Lotus.

If you are a regular reader then you might remember that my wife and I got an English Bulldog about 4 or 5 months ago. The puppy had been nothing but problems and had been through about $5,000 in treatment. Well, shes still with us and is doing much better! Check out the photo in that post and the one below, look at how much she has grown!

So aside from the Christmas goodies I don't have much to report. The Elise didn't win Autoblog's Reader Ride of the Year, that title ended up going to a very nice Saab 900 convertible. Check back in a few days or so for a post containing my 10 favorite photos of the Elise from last year. If you have any requests feel free to leave them in the comments. I'll be making wallpapers for your desktop out of these photos so be sure to check back!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hooray for Pizza (and the Lotus Elise)!

Exciting times here in Louisville, Spinellis Pizza (AWESOME pizza place from Philly) is opening up a new location about two miles or so from my house. There original Louisville location is in the Highlands and features a booth inside of a Lincoln Continental (one of those 60's suicide doors ones). Why is this news? Because I LOVE PIZZA! I'm even thinking about starting work on a Pizza Blog.

Best pizza in Louisville.

Anyway, what does this have to do with my Lotus Elise? Good question. Spinellis is big on Graffiti art and as such they have already given their new place "the look". I ran by there earlier today with the Elise to snap some photos of it by the fresh artwork. Check them out below!

(click on photos for larger versions)

Lotus Elise in front of Spinellis Pizza
The Lotus parked outside the new Spinellis Location (at Westport and Goosecreek in Louisville)

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
Lotus Elise alongside Spinelli's top notch Graffiti work...

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
Lotus Elise alongside some Graffiti

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
Lotus Elise alongside some colorful Graffiti

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
The Graffiti in the background reads "Do Not Touch", seems fitting ;)

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
Lotus Elise & Graffiti art

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
Krypton Green Lotus Elise next to some Graffiti

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
My Lotus Elise next to some top notch Graffiti

Graffiti and Lotus
Lotus Elise next to the new Spinellis Pizza location in Louisville

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
Lotus and Graffiti tends to make cool photos

Elise and Graffiti
Lotus and Graffiti

Lotus Elise and Graffiti Art
My Elise next to some Graffiti art

Lotus Elise and Graffiti
Lotus Elise and some colorful Graffiti

Lotus Elise and Graffiti Artwork
Lotus Elise and Graffiti art

Thats about it for todays post, I'll have more in a week or so. I'll be installing a new rear grill (off a 2006 Exige) onto my 2005 Lotus Elise, there aren't any huge differences but the 2006 does have slightly different openings (oval compared to round) and does not have the two reflectors. Should be a nice subtle touch. Check back soon for some photos of this little modification.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lotus Elise Intake installation

Last week I mentioned that I had a Green Filter on order from Blackwatch Racing and that I'd be using it in conjunction with a slight intake modification. Well, it arrived yesterday and I was able to get it installed this morning. Aside from the airbox not wanting to snap back together easily it was a very easy install. No dyno numbers or reliable tests to suggest any power increase but it does feel a bit stronger and sounds a LOT meaner on the second cam. Below are some before/after videos and some photos detailing the installation.

Crummy cellphone videos

Installation of the Green Filter and modifying the Elise intake system...
1.Start out by jacking the car up (be careful, don't want this to happen) and removing the rear driver's side wheel. You'll need to remove the back wheel well liner.

Lotus Elise Suspension

The liner is held on by six plastic screws like the one in the photo below...

Click on the photo below to see the location of the 6 screws you'll need to remove. The liner fits in the wheel well pretty snugly but with a little work you can work it free.

2.Once you have the wheel well liner off you can see how the factory airbox gets it's outside air. The snorkel thats attached to the airbox is pretty restrictive, we'll be removing it to free up the intake and hopefully add a bit of power.

Lotus Elise Intake Airbox

To remove the snorkel you need to pop a clip (similar to the screw/plug pieces that hold the wheel well liner on) off the top of the airbox. The clip is actually a screw in piece but due to its location and its tendency to just spin I went ahead and pried it off. I couldn't snap a photo of it on the car but you can see the clip you need to work with by clicking on the photo below.

Lotus Elise Intake Snorkel

3.Once you have the intake snorkel off you can go ahead and open the airbox using the two silver clips, click on the photo to see detail of the clips.

Lotus Elise Airbox

Pull out the stock Toyota airfilter and see just how dirty it is.

The Green Filter is obviously quite different. It's reusable and allows air to flow a world better than the stock air filter. It comes pre-oiled so its ready to pop in right out of the box.

Lotus Elise Green Filter Airfilter

Put the new airfilter in and work on getting the airbox closed again. Because the new filter's gasket is a bit thicker this is a lot tougher than it sounds, work with it though and you can get it to seal correctly. Once the airbox is back together you can work on getting the wheel well liner and wheel back on the car, their installation is the reverse of their removal.

Once you're done go ahead and take the Lotus out for a quick run through the gears. The new sound is pretty cool. The Lotus Elise / Exige isn't exactly quiet to begin with, but this intake modification gives it a really throaty sound once it hits the cam changeover at 6,200 rpms. I've still got the stock Lotus exhaust but I can only imagine how great this will sound with an aftermarket exhaust in the near future. I don't think this netted a big power increase, but it does feel just a bit stronger.

Thats it for now. I don't have any plans for the Lotus right now but I may go out and mess with it a little bit in the next couple weeks.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A shark eats our Lotus and we find a Jetta

Been a while since the last post, took a vacation and have been busy with some freelance stuff. We took the Elise down to Orange Beach / Gulf Shores Alabama for a week after stopping in Chattanooga to see my sister. While in Orange Beach we took some photos of the Lotus by a couple of local "landmarks". Anyone who has been to Gulf Shores will probably recognize these...

I'm starting a new format with the photos I use in these posts, from now on most of them will be clickable. Click on the photo to see a larger version in a new window.
Lotus Elise and giant Shark

Lotus Elise in Gulf Shores

Lotus Elise in Orange Beach

Lotus Elise Purple Octopus
The Lotus also found a giant purple Octopus to make friends with! ;)

While in Chattanooga seeing my sister (and my new niece!) we took a day trip down to IKEA in Atlanta. While at IKEA I ended up finding the perfect storage container for the Lotus Elise / Exige. It's a 5" x 15" CD storage (although not slotted) container from the LYCKLIG line (Product Link). It's on their website but its only available for purchase instore. It fits perfectly behind the seats on the otherwise useless parcel shelf. The seats push into it just a little bit but help with holding it in place. I'm using mine to store change and all the small crap that I usually have a hard time with securing in the Elise.

You can see the European 111R decal in this photo...

REALLY bad photo, but it shows just how hidden it is with the seats pushed back

Also, a while back I mentioned that I had put some European 111R decals on the Elise, finally got around to snapping a photo of them...
Lotus Elise 111R Decal Sticker

And finally, the newest member to our stable, my wife's 1998 VW Jetta GLS. This is her first car so we're pretty excited about it!
MK3 VW Jetta

MK3 Volkswagen Jetta

Check back next week for an update. I ordered a Green Filter air filter from Blackwatch Racing for the Lotus, it should be here Friday so hopefully I can get it installed on Saturday. I'll be doing a small intake mod during the installation and will try to post soundclips from both before and afterwards. Anyway, look for some cool "Lotus Elise taken apart" photos in the next week!

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Touring Brown County Indiana in a Lotus Elise

The weather in Louisville has been excellent the past few days and, in my opinion, is great for convertible fun. Theres a fun county about an hour and a half north of Louisville called Brown County. There are tons of little artist galleries & stores, a state park and some fun low traffic roads. The shopping district is very easy to get to, just look up "Nashville, IN" on Google Maps and follow the directions. The fun roads aren't really marked as such but if you lookup "Story, IN" you should be able to spot them ;)

Lotus Elise in Brown County Indiana
The Lotus at its safe parking spot in Brown County. If you head up there around this time of year you should definitely plan on large crowds. The main strip is loaded with mini vans, harleys, sport bikes, muscle cars, etc... All different types of people are there.

135 Isn't "Deals Gap" fun, but its still pretty fun and easy to enjoy. Theres a little town called Story along the route that has a fantastic old Inn (The Story Inn) that makes for great photos. Last year (before we had our Elise) we rode up to Brown County and the Story Inn with our friends in their Orange & Yellow cars. I ended up snapping a photo of their Chrome Orange Elise (yeah, its the one from the Tire Rack ads) in front of the Story Inn and it actually made it into the 2006 Club111 Calendar. This is the photo...

Chrome Orange Lotus Elise Pirate

I thought it would be fun to try and recreate the photo (although without the carriage driver) with our Elise. Heres my attempt at that ;)

Krypton Green Lotus Elise Story Inn
Krypton Green Lotus Elise @ The Story Inn in Story Indiana

Lotus Elise at Story Inn

Aside from the trip I don't have much else to update. I put some european market 111R decals on the Elise this past week, I'll get a photo of them up in the next day or so. One neat tidbit is the car actually rolled over to 10,000 miles as I parked it in front of the Story Inn. I meant to grab a photo but forgot in my haste.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Yokohamas, dead in 9,500 miles...

Let me preface this by saying I was in no way shocked that these tires wore this fast, I know others will gasp though.

The photos don't do them justice but these tires were almost to bologne skin status at only 9,500 miles.
Worn Down Yokohamas

Those were the Yokohama Neova AD07's off the rear of my Lotus Elise at 9,500 miles. If you've followed this blog then you know I don't track the car, don't autox it and don't drive it very hard on a regular basis. I do however drive it quite a bit, which is obvious by my hitting the 9,500 mile mark in about 6 1/2 months. Even at the "you're crazy to drive on these" wear level the tires were at they still managed to give quite a bit of traction. I'm by no means a tire expert but it seems the compound that makes up these tires absolutely just grabs the road. The new 225/45R17's for the rear aren't cheap by any means ($225 per tire) but they really do hold their own when pushed hard.

So anyway, enough with my boring tire dribble, on with the Lotus tire changing photos!

Jacking up the Lotus Elise
This was the first time I had jacked the car up. It was a much easier task than I had prepared myself for but was still nerve racking none the less. There are stickers on the bottom of the Elise showing where to place a jack, but thats it. Because of the Lotus' flat aluminum underside theres no visible reinforcement to indicate "yeah, this should be a strong enough point for the jack". Lungs filled with held breathe were common during this step....

Lotus Elise on Jackstands
With the wheels off and the car on jackstands you can finally see the nice little suspension bits that brings Lotus so much fame as well as the neat flat underbelly of the Elise.

Lotus Elise suspension

Lotus Elise Floorpan

After shelling out $60 to have the old tires torn off and the new tires stretched on it was finally time to take one last look at a "slick" AD07.
New Lotus Elise tires

And the new tires in their home for the next 9,500 miles ;)
Lotus Elise Rear

Anyway, thats all the news for now. I've got a car show coming up next weekend so you can look forward to photos from that!

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lotus Elise hardtop installation

With 95+ degree weather in Louisville for the past 10 days or so I finally said "enough is enough" and decided to put the hardtop back on. What a great opportunity to write up a "Lotus Elise hardtop walkthrough"!

Lotus Elise hardtop installation

These are the trim pieces to cover up the hardtop hardware once its installed...

Lotus Elise hardtop

This is the hardware used to secure the front of the hardtop to the Elise windshield frame. You will need a larger torx bit for all of the bolts in the install/removal.

Lotus Elise hardtop install

This is the hardware at the rear of the hardtop. Put the hardtop on and line the hook on this hardware up with the black piece on the Elise rollbar hoop/cover. Do the same on the other side and tighten both down so that the hook grips the black piece and pulls the hardtop down tight.

This is where the front hardware goes. Slide the posts from the hardware into their holes on the window frame. Slide the bolts (with washers) through the hardware and slowly into the hardtop. Be very careful not to strip the threads in the hardtop as I imagine its a real pain to fix. Tighten both sides down and grab the trim pieces.

The small trim pieces cover the rear hardware, just push it on and let the official Lotus velcro do its magic. The front panel needs to be bolted down using the hardware in it and the holes on the hardtop. That about sums it up. Not the best guide but hopefully it'll help you out if your stumped with your Elise hardtop.

The car goes in for service at Midwestern Auto Group Lotus next Thursday. They will be performing the 7,500 mile service, adjusting the driver's side window to get rid of the 1/4" gap between it and the top, removing the driver's side turn signal to fix the condensation build up, replace the little rubber piece on the gas door so it will sit flush when closed and replace the wheel center cap that fell off a week ago. Hopefully I won't have an experience like the one we had in Atlanta at Lotus of Atlanta with the car's 1,500 mile service. Only time will tell :)

No real photos for this post but I'm SURE I'll have some Ferrari/Aston Martin/Porsche/Lamborghini photos after the dealer visit next week. Maybe I'll get a Vanquish as a loaner car ;)

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Attention Grabbing

You know, I really wonder if all of these little Lotus cars get the same kind of attention. My Krypton Green Elise gets a TON of looks, so many that I've actually kinda tuned it out and don't really notice it much any more. But then I catch glimpses like this...

(crappy camera phone quality, direct sunlight KILLS the quality)

Some random guy had another, unrelated, random guy take a photo of him in front of the car. Not just one photo but two or three. This doesn't really bother me in the least, but it does make me wonder if its the car, the color or a combination of the two. 99% of the people who see it smile instantly or point and get their friends to look as well. Thats cool. But again, is it the car, the color or both?

The only other Lotus Elise' in Louisville are a Chrome Orange and two Saffron Yellows, obviously all bright colors, so thats not much help. I want to find out if a black Elise or a silver Elise get the same attention as my Krypton Green (or other BRIGHT) colored Elise' get. You could paint a Toyota Camry Krypton Green and it would snap some necks as it rode by, but would the stare continue until its out of sight like it does with the Lotus? Most owners say its just the car and not the color, but a black Elise HAS to slip under the radar even a little bit more than a Krypton Green Lotus Elise.

Anyway, thats my thought of the week. Feel free to chime in with comments in the comment section! :)

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Finally, a real Lotus Elise iPod solution!

Alright, so its been quite a while since I posted the Blaupunkt iPod integration install and my ill thoughts about it. I have since returned the Blaupunkt interface and used the credit towards an Alpine CDA-9856 and the KCE-422i iPod cable. While I was researching the stereo install I found that you can use a 2001 VW Passat (or similar model/generation) wiring adapter harness in the install to avoid having to cut into the stock Lotus wiring.

Start out by removing the old radio (see the previous post for instructions/photos) and running the iPod cable. When you start making your new wiring harness try to imagine it as "Alpine into Passat into Stock Lotus", the Alpine and Passat will be cut and wired together and the Passat connector will plug into the stock harness. The wiring goes like this...

Yellow --- Red = Constant Power (Battery)
Orange --- Orange = Illumination
Red --- Yellow = Ignition (Switched power)
Black --- Black = Ground

Violet --- Violet = Right Rear (+)
Violet/Blk --- Violet/Blk = Right Rear (-)
Gray --- Gray = Right Front (+)
Gray/Blk --- Gray/Blk = Right Front (-)
White --- White = Left Front (+)
White/Blk --- White/Black = Left Front (-)
Green --- Green = Left Rear (+)
Green/Blk --- Green/Black = Left Rear (-)

When you are done you should have two unused wires on the Lotus/Passat side of the adapter, theres are for the non-existant sub out (white/red) & antenna motor (pink). Tape these off and set them aside.

Now that you have the harness made you can plug everything together, stuff the excess wiring into the dash (it WILL fit, just takes some real effort) and slide the new head unit in. Connect your iPod and you're finished!

Getting used to the iPod controls takes a little effort but you should be able to pick them up. The one thing that threw me off is that you can't change/search playlists while in "Mix mode" (button 5), just switch this mode off whenever you want to find a specific song. The entire experience is a WORLD better than the Blaupunkt experience. An added plus is that the audio quality seems to have improved quite a bit with the new head unit as well! A lot of Lotus car folk swear that a speaker upgrade is the way to go with the Elise but with this radio I'm VERY satisfied with the sound quality. You can choose to display the time remaining, clock, artist, album or track name, all of which are clearly displayed and very easily read.

My ONLY complaint with this head unit is that theres only one line of text and no way to display the clock alongside the other info. The next model up ($100~ more) has two lines of text which I think is the main selling point based on exactly this. Still though, this is just a minor inconvenience.

The only other new note since the last post is that the lidbone developed a rattle very early on which is very annoying while the car is cold. The rattle fades away after the car warms up though so its still livable.

Aside from that the car is running strong at 6,200~ miles. Not much has been added to the dealer/service "To do" list other than the turn signal seal, a little rubber piece that disappeared from the fuel door (kept the door flush, now it sits in a little) and the ongoing "window adjustment" issue. The exhaust has opened up quite a bit and the car absolutely screams now when your above 6,200rpms.

A few days ago I got to play with an older Porsche 911 on River road. He turned out in front of me, noticed what was in his rear view and proceeded to just take off. At first I didn't really get on it (I'm very mellow on the street) but after a second or two I said to hell with it and chased him up to about 105mph or so. I've found that driving after a small bit of rain is very enjoyable in this car. Hanging the tail end of the Lotus out is VERY easy and VERY controllable at very low speeds in the rain. You CAN do the same on dry pavement but you really have to be beating on the car to do so, something I don't do often at all.

So yeah, that about sums up my thoughts so far :) The only photo I have to post right now (at work) is one I took outside of a local salon, I thought it was pretty appropriate for this little Lotus car.

Until next time....

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Elise iPod Install and "Lidbone" install

Yeah, so I decided to forego the oil change and just hold out until the 7,500 mile service. I did go ahead and install the Blaupunkt iPod Interface adapter and the Sector111 Lidbone though. The iPod installation was pretty straight forward.

The iPod kit includes all of this (aside from my 60Gb iPod Video)

When this is all installed it should be a completely stealth installation.

The factory Lotus Elise head unit (at least with my Touring Pack) is a Blaupunkt Acalpulco MP54, which is on the list of iPod ready recievers.

The installation starts by removing the face plate and using the supplied (with your radio) removal tongs to pull the unit out of the dash.

The Radio has plenty of excess wire which allows it to reach the floor, handy because you don't have to unplug it with one hand while balancing it on the shifter (as is the case with some other cars).

Next you will want to go ahead and remove the right access panel, its held on by two screws inside the cubby hole. It has foam backing that sticks to the frame, it prys off pretty easily. Go ahead and run the iPod interface cable through the dash by feeding it through the big headunit hole and get most of it in and over the bracing. It's a tight fit but isn't too bad to work with. Once you have it fed in go ahead and work your hand as far into the access hole on the right and start feeling around for the cable. My only word of warning here is that the aluminum inside (remember, the car uses Aluminum everywhere, tons of raw edges) is damn sharp and WILL cut you pretty easily.

Now that you have the cable run you can go ahead and plug it in at both ends and get the Radio back into the dash. When you power it on the iPod should display a message with a checkmark showing that its connected. Once you've verified that you can go ahead and seal the iPod up or leave it out. You're done!

Now, my thoughts on this setup. I haven't spent too much time messing with it (Derby week in Louisville is CRAZY) but I'm hoping to get some issues resolved. First is the lack of text display. I KNOW this is possible with the combination but I need to figure out what setting or firmware update it is. Next is the 9 Playlist/99 song maximum. My library consists of about 850 songs so I'm safe for now, but it irks me that I need to center my library around this one application. This is a cross between Blaupunkt and iTunes issue but it is still annoying. Third is the severe electrical noise that comes on after a bit. This isn't hard drive noise but very very similar to alternator whine which is caused by power wires being to close to data/sound wires. I'm sure thats the case here but it still sucks for now.

I'm going to work on these issues sometime this week and hopefully get them ironed out. If they all persist then I'm returning the interface and will just go with a different manufacturer. Thats obviously more expensive and more work, but if it works much cleaner in the end then its more than worth it to me.

So, onto the lidbone installation. The Lidbone is a brand new product from Sector 111 and is used to open and prop the engine lid with one hand. Installation is very straight forward and simple.

This is whats included with the kit. Everything just screw together and seems pretty sturdy.

The assembled Lidbone...

The installation starts by removing these two torx bolts that are used to hold the plug cover on.

Bolt the Lidbone base to that point using the two existing torx bolts.

Once you have that bolted down you can go ahead and remove the two 10mm nuts at the lock/latch area on the lid. They are hard to see but pretty easy to feel and remove.

Sideview of the LidBone holding the lid up. It actually gives you a couple more inches of room over the factory prop rod.

And from the rear (notice our neighbor's cat Veda walking by the Suzuki ;)

Well, thankfully I'm very pleased with this product so far. It took a couple adjustments to get it to work right (needs to be fairly loose) but it works great. I shut the lid and gave the car some quick revs (up to about 4,000) with me about halfway out of the car to see if it was going to rattle around at all and I couldn't hear a single rattle. Either its just very quiet or the exhaust is just getting louder. So far the Lidbone looks like a "must have" for Lotus Elise owners.

The last little bit I did before running inside to start my next (unrelated) project was to toss a reflective Apple sticker on the car. I'm not sure how this managed to go so long but its well overdue. I'm an Apple Computer nut and this was the first question quite a few folks asked (You gonna put an Apple on that one too?), well now they can quit asking.

I'm gonna try and set aside some time for a few little photoshoots soon, hopefully the next blog update isn't too far away ;)

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Pacman and Lotus, what a pair!

So a couple of posts ago I mentioned "The infamous Pacman", it just dawned on me that some folks outside of Louisville might not get what that reference. About a year and a half ago my Louisville Lotus friends (the Saffron Yellow and Chrome Orange owners) wanted some cool shots of their Saffron Yellow car so they brought it over to my house and we busted out my fullsize Pacman, and Ms Pacman, costumes. The resulting Lotus Elise photos showed up everywhere and even made it into the 2005 Club 111 (US Lotus Elise enthusiast club) Calendar. Here are a couple shots from that day...

Pacman Costume and Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise Pacman Costume

Ms Pacman Costumes

Lotus Pacman Costumes

Before you shoot an email my way, I didn't make the costumes, my wife spotted them on Louisville "FreeCycle" and got dibs on them pretty quickly. There are two "Ghost" costumes floating around as well although we haven't managed to get those yet ;) I'm pretty sure that there will eventually be some shots of Pacman chasing the Krypton Green Elise through Louisville.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Long time, no post...

Well, I guess its obvious that I've been too busy driving the Elise (and working two jobs) to keep this blog updated. Hopefully that will change now though! The car continues to amaze me with how enjoyable it is to drive. I've actually been driving it quite a bit since returning home (4,000~ on the car) and have had almost no problems at all. The car gets fantastic gas mileage, not sure on the exact figure but it seems to be a lot better than our Suzuki Aerio. No new squeeks or rattles have shown up but the exhaust has opened up a little bit, which really helps the driving experience.

The only problem I have to report is the windows, both still leak. I managed to fix the passenger side window (remember, the Atlanta dealer "broke" it) to where it will move up and down with no trouble but both sides do still leak. I took the hardtop off a couple of weeks ago and quickly noticed that there is a big difference in where the window should stop between the hard and soft tops. With the soft top on the drivers side window has about a 1/4" gap at the rear of the window. No big deal, I just have to be kinda careful about driving when storms are rolling in. Hopefully the new dealer will be able to help me get both adjusted to a point where they will work reasonably well with both tops.

Ok, so I've had both tops on (and off) the car now. I LOVE the way the car looks with the hardtop and with no top, but I really really don't like the look of the soft top with the color. The result? The soft top only goes on when its raining or I'm leaving the car out of my sight for an extended time. The car continues to get stares and questions wherever it goes. Little kids jump up and down and older folks get big grins whenever they see it. Hell, it gives me a big grin when I see it ;)

Anyway, on with the photos.

Took these at Cave Hill cemetery in Louisville, KY
Lotus at Cavehill Cemetery

Lotus Elise Cavehill Cemetery

Lotus Elise in Cemetery

Louisville Cavehill Cemetery

Louisville Lotus Elise

Lotus Cemetery Photo

Lotus Elise Cemetery Photo

Took these while I was washing the car one day...
Lotus Elise Car Wash

Lotus Car Wash

Rear of Lotus Elise

These were taken a day or so after a storm...
Lotus Elise Reflection

Lotus Elise pool

Lotus Elise art photo

Lotus Elise in Louisville Kentucky

Lotus in Louisville KY

Lotus Elise Louisville

Elise Louisville

Took a trip up to Madison Indiana a couple of weeks ago and got some great pizza at "Chicago Pizza"...
Lotus Elise in Madison Indiana

Lotus Madison

And finally, some topless shots of the Elise...
(you can see the infamous PacMan in the background)
Topless Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise Roadster

Convertible Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise Topless

Lotus Elise Interior

Lotus Elise Fender

Lotus Elise headlights

And to finish it off... A self portrait that makes me look an idiot (or maybe its just me in general ;)!

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Deals Gap Lotus Elise videos

Here are the videos that George shot at deals gap using a prototype ChaseCam. Big thanks to Randy (owner/creator of Chasecam) for helping to clean these up and host them. (please "right click->save target as" these)

George in the Chrome Orange Elise chasing my Krypton Green Elise

Me chasing George (this run also had the red BMW Z4 behind me trying to keep up)

George leading in the Orange Elise with Jennifer in the Saffron yellow Elise following and me following Jennifer

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Lookout Mtn, and finally back home to Louisville

So after Deals Gap we headed about two hours west to Chattanooga TN to spend the weekend with my sister & mom on Lookout Mountain. We got up and out early Saturday morning to wash the car & go take photos on the mountain. The car had a ton of black dust on it, I guess the dust was tire remnants from along Deals Gap, that washed off fairly easily. After wasting two of those cheap blue towels you buy at the car wash I decided to just drive it up the mountain to dry it off and blot whatever small spots were left afterwards. While blotting the rest of the spots off (mainly on the engine/boot cover, no air rushes through that area) in front of the restaurant two guys ended up coming outside to check the car out. Niki and I just smiled and answered the usual questions and headed on inside.

When we sat down with my mom & sister they informed us that the two guys had been eating with their family but stood up quickly, as soon as the Elise parked, and headed out to see the car, leaving their family inside. Apparently MY family didn't believe us when we had mentioned the amount of attention the car gets ;)

So anyway, we're looking over the menu and chatting about the car's "attention grabbing" skills when the restaurant owner walks up and starts talking about the Elise. Come to find out he is not only from Louisville but he has an uncle in NY that restores & collects Lotus'. Turns out that he knows quite a bit about the Elise and that his uncle has an Ardent Red one that he sold his Lotus 7 for last year. Talk about a small world. After chatting about these quirky little cars for a bit we finish up our lunch and head on outside to take these photos (which I later emailed to Nick, the restaurant owner). Later that night I hopped on EliseTalk and low & behold I see a post from his uncle telling a Knoxville resident to stop in to his nephew's cafe on Lookout Mtn. Talk about a REALLY small world.

Lotus Elise Lookout Mountain

Lotus Elise Chattanooga

Lotus Elise Mountain Cafe

Lookout Mtn Lotus Elise

So after snapping the Cafe photos we headed back down to meet up with my sister at her house and follow her to a friend's house who had wanted to see the famed Lotus.

My mom checking out the car in the daylight in my sister's driveway...
Lotus Elise on Lookout Mountain

My niece Julia Caroline showing the world what she thinks of these cars ;)
Child inside Lotus Elise

My sister's friend's kid looking up at his dad
Baby in Lotus Elise

So after taking my sister's friend (the dad) for a ride down a couple of backroads Niki and I headed up to the hang gliding launch on the mountain. I was hoping to get some colorful hang glider shots with the car but a ratty driveway stopped me from doing so. I found an overlook shortly down the road though and snapped off these photos.

Lotus on Lookout Mountain

Lotus at Hang glider point

Lookout Mountain Lotus Elise

Lotus at Lookout Mountain

Lotus Elise on Mountain

Notice Niki asleep in the passenger seat...

After the overlook we headed down to a little general store type place where the mountain's train passes by. This train is damn scary, when you're on it you're at a very steep angle and you just creep straight up & down the mountain.

After all of the general store fun we headed up to "Cravens House", a battleground spot from (I think) the Civil war.

And the obligatory "art" shots... ;)

From Craven's House we headed over to Rock City (about two blocks from my sister's house) for some traditional fun. We go here every time we're in town, rocks & gnomes NEVER get old! ;)

Niki standing at the beginning of the needle's eye (slim corridor between two huge rocks)
Niki at Rock City

Steps heading down into fatman's squeeze...

Some idiot on a rope bridge thats VERY high up...
Chris at Rock City

Niki checking out the 6 state view...
Rock City

The blair witch shot... (I'm sure this will end up being bastardized)

Niki in front of a waterwheel

I have no dignity.
Moron in Gnome Hat

Lotus Elise at Rock City

Rock City was the last thing we really did in Chattanooga. We headed back Monday morning and finally got home around 5 that evening. The Elise finally found its new home :)

All in all the Lotus Elise is a very pleasant car to travel with. A coast to coast trip might be a bit of a stretch for the Lotus but I'm sure my Elise will see some more road trips in its coming years with us.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Lotus Elise Deals Gap adventure!

For those not in the know, Deals Gap is a section of south western North Carolina that is the home of "The tail of the dragon", an 11 mile stretch of road that contains 318 curves. Yeah, this is a VERY fun road! Up until today I had only felt the Elise' handling abilites in the passenger seat on a few backroads & SCCA courses. Driving my Elise through the Gap chasing my friends in their cars was a whole new experience. This car redefines what cars are capable of. I didn't keep an eye on the speedometer but my estimate is that 10mph corners were taken in the 30mph range without finding the car's limits. As someone who is somewhat nervous on foreign roads I quickly adjusted to the stretch and was able to take advantage of the car's abilities. I made 4 runs total (two of which were filmed from the orange Elise, I'll post those later) and managed to pull away from a BMW Z4 through the corners (although slow traffic & some straights allowed it to catch back up) in one of the runs. The views from the overlook (one end of the dragon) were awesome and gave us some cool photo ops.
Chrome Orange, Saffron Yellow, Krypton Green Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise cars at Deals Gap

Lotus cars at Tail of the Dragon

Tail of the Dragon Lotus Elise

Niki smiling after the first run up through the dragons tail...

Lotus Elise at Deals Gap

The car really does look greener once its next to the yellow & orange cars...
3 Lotus Elises

You can see the red BMW that ran with us in this photo
Lotus Elise and BMW Z3

Deals Gap, population 6
Deals Gap sign and Lotus Elise

Lotus next to Deals Gap sign

Lotus next to Tree of Shame

The infamous tree with bike parts attached to it, really kinda neat in person.
Tail of the Dragon Tree of Shame

Lotus Cars

Deals Gap Sign

You should be able to see the pearl/gold in the paint in this photo

Row of Lotus Cars

My two favorite lifestyle colors (Lotus options) together, Chrome Orange & Krypton Green.
Orange and Green Lotus Elise

After playing at the gap & surround attractions we came back into Robbinsville to grab some pizza, which was AWESOME. With full stomaches we parted ways as our friends headed back to Louisville and we headed over to Chattanooga to stay the weekend with my sister. I'll be heading out tomorrow to get some photos on Lookout Mountain. Thankfully we have wifi here at the hotel so I can make these posts come a bit quicker. We'll be back in Louisville Monday evening!

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Fun dealer experience

Today before heading to the dealer we decided to go check out IKEA to see what small things we could pick up and to see what the legendary store looks like in person :)

IKEA in Atlanta

Atlanta IKEA

So last night we dropped our cars (Jenn & George's cars & our car) off at Lotus of Atlanta to have service done on them. All of our appointments were scheduled 2+ weeks ago and were very clear (aside from two minor issues I found while driving our car back from Clearwater). Well, my car was completed fairly early today (Thursday) which was a plus but I had called to add a request to check & adjust the aiming of the headlights (very low, needed to be raised slightly) and that was met with a price quote of $200~. Please keep in mind that this is, if nothing else, a safety issue on a brand new (1300 mile) car. Well, after some calling around from someone in the biz who has some VERY good contacts we are able to give the service advisor the warranty code for the issue and get the charge dropped. BIG thanks to George on that! So my car is now done but we're still hanging around waiting for them to finish most of the issues that the orange & yellow Lotus' were brought in for. During this time (4~ hours at the dealer) I stayed entertained by wandering around the dealer snapping photos of cars...

First up is the Laser Blue Lotus Exige that was brought in this morning. For those not familiar with these, this car is basically just a sport pack equipped Elise with some aerodynamic features added for high speed downforce. Some truly believe that these cars are just flat out faster/quicker/better than the Elise but the only place where it may walk an Elise is on a race track or expressway where upper speeds & cornering are encountered. Aside from that the extra body work is just extra weight to haul around.
Laser Blue Lotus Exige

Lazer Blue Lotus Exige

My car after it was brought out for the first time (sent back in to adjust the passenger window).
Krypton Green Lotus Elise

My car next to a "nightfall blue" Elise
Krypton Green next to Nightfall Blue

Black Lotus Elise

I LOVE these cars. Lamborghini Murcielago, msrp somewhere in the $290-310,000 range. Kinda out of my league but still VERY fun to dream about... This one was kind of blinged out with the orange wheels & orange leather interior.
Lambo Murcielago

Lamborgini Murcielago

Orange Lamborghini

Check out the brakes on this Lamborghini Gallardo ($200,000~), these cars are the total opposite of the Elise, VERY overweight and VERY powerful.
Lamborghini Murcielago Pimped Out

Orange Lamborghini Murcielago

Its hard to think that this car costs over $100,000 more than our house...
Orange Lambo Murcielago

So anyway, after wasting several hours at the dealer waiting for them to finish the cars that they should have been prepared for (yes, we were all quite miffed) we are finally ready to go. Jenn & George's cars didnt even get everything they came down for, they were simply forced to pick up and leave though. We figured we might as well get a couple of photos off before we head out into the night for the drive to Robbinsville North Carolina (Deals Gap).

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Few days behind....

I've been without internet access (more or less) for a few days so I've gotten kinda backed up with experiences and photos. I'll start with three days ago in Orange Beach.

So Sunday night we decided that we'd leave a day early to head up to Montgomery and then over to Atlanta to meet up with Jennifer & George at Lotus of Atlanta to have our three cars serviced. Since we were cutting a day out of the beach we decided to go ahead and cram a few things into our last day there. This included Niki feeding the seagulls on the beach, walking around & shopping at Fairhope and getting some photos. I've posted a few of these photos first. They apparently just had a mardi gras parade in Fairhope a day or two before and there were still beads hanging from trees & signs and moonpies littering the streets.

Lotus Elise in Gulf Shores

Lotus Elise in Fairhope Alabama

Lotus Elise in Fairhope

So after we walked around Fairhope's art & shopping district we headed over to the pier where we had taken some very pretty sunset photos a few years ago. What we found was a pier that was closed from Ivan's damage a couple years ago (see photo below) and a gated driveway with a cool gate & fitting sign.

Lotus Elise driveway

Lotus Driveway

Lotus Elise in Garage

Lotus Elise in Garage

Lotus Elise packing in trunk

Lotus Elise Trunk

Lotus Elise full trunk

Victorian Houses Lotus Car

Lotus Elise on Expressway

Lotus at hotel

Black Lamborghini Gallardo

Lamborghini Murcielago Spyder

Orange Murcielago Spyder

The last few are from Lotus of Atlanta which is also a Lamborghini & BMW dealer. The service guy was surprised to see our green car, he hadn't seen one in person yet. After we left the dealer we headed to hell (the Georgia Aquarium) to see a zoo of people inside a somewhat cool aquarium. The last photo is of Niki touching a sea ray. This is kind of a crappy post but I'm typing it damn quickly while 3 others are waiting for me at the breakfast table ;)

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Finally got to wash my new Elise...

Well, I'm finally getting the hang of shooting Krypton Green. Today I got up and washed the Elise bright and early and headed out to some spots around Gulf Shores. The photos below are what I managed to capture today. This car really does grab attention, today alone I had two people take photos of themselves with the car and several camera phone shots. I've been up too long processing these (Photoshop CS RAW processing and extremely minor adjustment afterwards, about 45 seconds per image) so I'm just going to get to the photos. Enjoy!

This was one of my favorites today, I think it shows some of the cars nicest lines...

The queens mark, showing her approval for sale. Neat huh ;)

My queen :)

Yeah, not much space in the boot at all.

It was windy out :(

Good god, I wanted to shoot the car at this spot sooooo badly, it was blocked off though. Dammit.

Another area I wanted to shoot at, this one I just flat out couldn't find the road to get to though so I had to settle for the opposite side of the barriers.

The street sign reads "Paradise ln"

And the obligatory shark photo. I'm heading back in the morning to try and get some better shots with this guy.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

The day after delivery (and the day after that!)

Alright, so we ended up staying at a little mom and pop hotel in Perry Florida after picking the car up in Clearwater Florida and driving for a couple hours. These photos are from the next morning.

gimme a break, you try holding a digital SLR and taking a photo with the wrong hand! ;)

Niki demonstrating how to pimp a Lotus ;)

My initial impressions of the car are that its very similar (power wise) to my old G60 powered VW Rabbit. This will change once the break-in period is over though because I'll be able to make use of the second (power) cam and will feel the real power the motor has to offer. While driving the past couple of days I've tried to have a few bursts of going through the available rpm range and even some backroad overtaking with slow RV's and woodchip dropping logging trucks. Even just staying in gear and laying into the throttle a little bit impresses me. This could be a result of one of two things, either the car is more powerful than often given credit for or I've just been out of a fast car for waaaay too long! I'm going to go ahead and assume the latter since I'm already starting to lust after the 2nd cam power.

This car is MUCH easier to drive than I had imagined. Getting in and out is a pain (just ask Niki!), but once you are in you find that its very comfortable and everything is setup perfectly. The deadpedal is a little hard for me to grab without scraping the clutch pedal but aside from that I have no gripes whatsoever. The steering wheel is a perfect size and, in typical MOMO fashion, has the perfect indentions and grips built into it. The shiftknob is much smaller than I expected (everything inside the Elise is to a point) but fits my hand perfectly. I think I was probably just imagining that it would be similar in size to the old sumo ball I had in my drag car. Direct rear visibility is awesome and the side visibility is by all means livable all though I suspect it will improve once I figure out how to adjust the mirrors (yes, I'm dense).

Its rainy and in the 40's here in Orange Beach so I haven't had a chance to wash the car off yet but I will be doing so at the first opportune moment. For now though I have some drizzly 40 degree weather "at the beach" photos for the family back home. Hope you enjoy!

This is at Perdido Dunes, my mom's second condo that is actual beachfront. The open space behind the pool is where two very large condos used to sit, they actually blocked the view for the rest of the community. This is what is left of that area ever since Dennis tore through the area.

Niki at the ocean collecting shells. There were lots of jellyfish along the coast, something I don't remember from previous trips.

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Friday, February 17, 2006


Well, the color is nothing but amazing! The car looks like its got electricity flowing through it. My salesman kinda drove us around the lot to build us up a little bit but it was all I could do not to run to the car the second I saw it. I absolutely cannot believe how beautiful the color is in person. It changes at every angle and looks amazing with each change.

So anyway, I'm now the proud owner of a 2005 Lotus Elise in Krypton Green. The car has the touring package (power windows, leather, extra sound insulation) and a removable hardtop. I was amazed that we were able to squeeze all of our crap into the trunk. The dealer helped a bit by shipping our soft top and hardtop's bag home for us, which cleared up a bunch of space. This car drives like a dream and finally gives me a new "favorite car", beating out the long favorite VW Rabbit. We picked it up yesterday morning and just now made it to Orange Beach AL where we are staying until Wedneday. I'll post more tomorrow, I'm off to get some dinner now though. Check out the photos for an idea of what our week has involved :)

Lotus Elise at Dimmitt Motors

Krypton Green Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise at Florida Dealer

Lotus alongside Ferrari Cars

Lotus in front of Dimmitt Motors

White Red and Black Lotus Cars

Lotus and Rolls Royce

Bentley Cars

Ferrari 360s and Lotus at Dimmitt

Chili Red Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise in Chilli Red

I'm such a dork!

Niki and myself in our new pride & joy :)

Lotus Elise on Clearwater Florida Beach

Lotus Elise on Beach

Lotus Elise on Florida Beach

Rear of Lotus Elise

At the hotel last night. This color changes in every light and at every angle. I love it. I've got my dream car :)

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