1998 Lotus Elise

16 posts

The Lotus Elise is a car I’ve wanted for a long time, ever since I first saw one aged 12 in fact.

I’d grown up watching old video tapes my parents had sent over of the F1 while they lived abroad. 1985 to 1988, the end of the turbo era and while for 3 of those seasons Lotus had one of the best drivers – the legendary Senna – they didn’t have the best car.

I hadn’t known Lotus at its prime. To me they were the plucky British underdogs. I like underdogs, I think it comes from being a Sunderland fan. So combine a name I’d grown up watching hour after hour of racing footage for with a gorgeous little sports car, let it age for 10 years to drop in to my price range and for me to become insurable on one, and it was inevitable one day I was going to get one.

I paid £8,500 for the Elise with 61,140 miles on the clock in March 2008. My first few trips in it I took heed of the warnings that S1’s could be twitchy and treated the accelerator like it had a bomb under it – silly looking back when you think it only has 118bhp. I don’t believe any other car feeds information back to the driver like an Elise. The engine thrums over your shoulder, intake sucking in on part throttle, exhaust popping and fizzing on the over-run. The steering fizzs with details of the road surface in your hands – letting you gauge how much grip as the super sharp front-end devours another corner. The only real weak link is the gearbox, with its slightly ponderous cable linkage, but upgrades made to my car help improve that

It can be a bit of a handful in the wet, but in general I’ve found it pretty reassuring to drive – just one near incident in the rain in Scotland where I found massive understeer followed by snap oversteer and a completely improbable save that I’m almost certain I couldn’t do again.