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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Friday, December 29, 2006

Autoblog Reader Ride of the Year

It seems like theres a ton of competition at the end of this year, what with the Motortopia challenges (more on that in a bit) and now this. Autoblog has taken the 14 "Readers Rides of the Week" from the past couple months and put them into a poll to draw out the "Reader Ride of the Year". Back in October my Elise was Reader Ride of the Day on the same day that I lost my job, kind of a funny coincidence. My Lotus Elise went on to be voted to the "Reader Ride of the Week" for that week and is now thrown into the "RR of the Year" poll.

So guess what I want you to do... ;)
Head over to Autoblog's Reader Ride of the Year Poll and put in a vote for your favorite ride, which will hopefully be a Krypton Green 2005 Lotus Elise. I would love to see something as cool as this title originate from a day where I was kind of at my lowest, I just think its too ironic.

And with the Motortopia challenges, I'm in a featured challenge AGAIN! This time instead of being put against a traditional American "Muscle Car" I'm up against a Pontiac Solstice. "What, that should be an easy choice" you say, well what if I tell you that the Solstice has been transformed into a Mallett. The Mallett conversions consist of gutting the Solstice/Sky drivetrain and replacing it with a Corvette LS2 motor & running gear. So now its kinda interesting ;) I'm sure I'll lose as there are just way too many active domestic folks on Motortopia but it's still a neat challenge I think.

Aside from that, not much news or updates. Santa brought me a carbon fiber rear view mirror and new front & rear tow hooks for the Elise, you can expect to see an installation post for all of that in the next week or so. Hopefully that post will include some cool news from the Autoblog's Reader Ride of the Year Poll ;).


Monday, December 11, 2006

Motortopia strikes again! (in a good way)

Motortopia seems to love the Lotus Elise. This morning I accepted a challenge (similar to Battles on Boompa) from a Camaro SS dubbed "The Rocket" and later today I recieve a message saying this challenge is the current "Featured Challenge". Neat!

Motortopia Featured Challenge
(click image for detailed image of the challenge)

So yeah, if you haven't joined Motortopia yet, now is the time to do it! Head over there now, create your garage and head over to "The Challenge" and put in some votes for everyone's favorite Krypton Green Lotus Elise!

My smile from winning the challenge not enough motivation? Well damn, then do it so I'll have a chance at winning the exterior care kit courtesy of Griot's Garage! Whoever wins the most challenges in december wins the care kit that's valued at $150. If you all help make it happen (watch for future challenges with my Lotus and vote on those too!) I promise to reward everyone with some photos of a freshly detailed Lotus Elise! Now seriously, who could pass that up!

(disclaimer, I'm not really this shallow, just having some fun. If it was me reading this I probably would have closed the browser after the first shameless plug!)

So aside from the Motortopia news there hasn't been much going on in my garage. I started to install the 2006 Lotus Exige grill that I picked up for my Elise but once I got into it I decided to hold off until I'm doing the aftermarket exhaust install. The heatshielding and need to modify the grill a little bit are just a lot more than I want to mess with for a simple cosmetic upgrade. When I have the stock Lotus exhaust off the grill will be a lot easier to swap out, so I'll do so then. I hope it snows around Louisville soon so I can grab some photos of a nice clean Lotus Elise in an inch or two of snow, not out driving but in my driveway!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Autoblog rocks!

So today I lost my job. Not a huge deal, it was a new job (been there about a month) and for the last two weeks I've been on the edge of anxiety attacks every morning on the way in, but it still sucks. Add that as icing to an ongoing issue we're having with our english bulldog puppy (under developed liver, goes braindead on us every now and then, $3,500 in vet bills so far) and you'll get an idea of what the past two weeks have been like. This next part really helped pick me up a bit.

Lotus Elise featured on Autoblog

Today Autoblog featured my Elise as Reader Ride of the day. Neato! Autoblog is one of the select sites I check off and on throughout the day so it really brightened my day to see my car grace its pages.

Hello English Emprise folks, I see you found this blog today around 8:36am by searching for "chris watson louisville ky", if you have any questions about code/projects I created feel free to email me @ chris [at] fleur-design [dot] net. Have a good weekend :)


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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