Elise model

My Diary of Elise Ownership

This is my story. I am going to document my purchase, ownership, and feelings about my Lotus Elise. I will try and provide as much information as possible. Already I am unable to talk about how I know certain things or how I plan on purchasing my car. I started this diary in August of 2003, before the car is available. So far I only have a throttle pedal, a manual, and models of the Series 1 and 2 in my possession.

I have owned a Caterham Seven for over 15 years and owned a Honda NSX for almost seven. I want a car that embodies the best of both. I saw pictures of the new car under development, using a Seven-like front end and so I started these web pages.

I went to the Electronic Entertainment Expo on business. Kiyoshi had a relationship with Lotus Cars USA and so we made the pilgrimage. I met the then president and some of the rest of the employees. I also met Arnie Johnson and we talked about the V8 engine in the Esprit. I tried to convince them to import the Elise.

1999Kiyoshi and I again made the trip to E3 and visited Lotus. Arnie was now President. I took Arnie and the group out to breakfast, again in an attempt to get them to import the car.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the car, developing the web site, and watching the fortunes of Lotus go up and down.

February, 2002I covered the Los Angles Auto Show for ReMarque Magazine, the Lotus Ltd Club. I was able to interview both Roger Becker and Arnie Johnson. I got to photograph the new S2 (later the Federal version) during press day, without crowds. I tried to convince Roger to keep the car as original as possible. He kept trying to convince me I would like it.

I heard stories about the new engine being tested. I was not happy.

August, 2002I got Gran Tursimo 3 for my birthday and lost interest in real cars. Lotus was getting a lot of free publicity because of the speculation swirling around the engine choice

<-----continued and current diary is here----- diary index----- succeeding entries ----->


This page was originally for rumors. I could not print much of what I knew because I promised I would not. So the page languished. I have kept the remaining entries to show some examples.

Rumor heat up in 2002 as Lotus displays two Series 2 cars and surveys the crowd at the Los Angles Auto Show. Then a V6 is seen on the Lotus test track and other rumors showed up in the magazines.

Jeff Chan talks about engine options for the new Federal Elise.


April 1999: Motorcycle powered Elise for sale

November 1998: Lotus has already selected a new engine for the Elise, to be available in 2001.

November 1998: Lotus board desires to withdraw from US market in September 1999. They change their mind when Arnie makes a trip and pitches profit and continued sales of the Esprit. New Elise will be available in 2001, new body and new engine.

importing to the United States

  • John O'Rear talks about the M100 failure, also referencing the Harley and niche markets
  • I happen across a document listing the specific changes required to federalize the Elise. The source of the document is Lotus UK, who will apparently supply the necessary components to do the work! Modifications fit requirements for complying with year 2001!
  • I start contacting Registered Importers in an attempt to import a grey market Elise, with little success.
  • Long period of dispair (summer and fall of 1998), no Elise in sight, LCU can sell 500 per year, and that is not enough for Lotus UK. They want at least 1000 a year.
  • Steve Brightman talks about Elise marketing in America
  • From Karl, various rumors, about production capacity and such
  • As of February 1998, if you have a relationship with your local Lotus dealer, please call and tell them about your interest in the Elise.
  • Lotus looking at a Rover (BMW!) V6, perhaps for the US market?
  • There are strong rumors the car will be brought to the United States.
    • coupe
    • V6 engine, 170 hp, perhaps a Ford from the Coutour
    • sills will be high but later drop for ease of entry
    • longer, additional length for the engine and for more stable handling
    • softer seats
    • comfort modifications including radio, floor mats, power door locks
    • optional air conditioning
    • immoblizer
    • comming Summer of 1998
    • other
      • $7 million to develop original, $8 million to federalize
      • not using Hydro, extruded and manufactured in US
      • rear diffuser adds 50n/m stiffing
      • no road height changes required to add diffuser
      • 100mph adds 300lbs down force
      • short chassis has nervous handling
      • chassis supports head dissapation for 200 hp
  • (The current, latest word from Lotus is the car will not be exported to the United States. I can think of lots of reasons to bring it here. I want one desperately. But I can think of many reasons why Lotus has not done so yet. They were not successful with the Elan (M100). The Elise will require air bags, bumpers, and a federalized engine. And as Patrick notes, crash testing, emissions testing and general federalization all cost a fortune. Please let me know your thoughts and I will happily pass them on to Lotus.)
  • Derick Boom suggests a racing series. It appears Selwa is busy trying to do just that.
  • Oliver Everett letter, February, 1996 I wrote Oliver Everett, Lotus head of marketing and sales, a letter offering to create the Elise page, and pestering him to export the car to America. This is a gif (56K) copy of his response, including a promise to tell me first of the car's arrival! (I will not hold him to it, just so long as it finally gets here.)
  • more rumors from the Internet

From: "Roche, Dave (D.)"
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2002 8:11 AM
Subject: RE: [lotus-cars] WHO KNOWS THE NOSE


I have been patiently reading your notes for a few days now, waiting for something to have an opinion about, and by George I think I've found it. I am a fairly new Lotus owner, with a virgin-like 6 months of Lotus based pleasure under my belt - however I have had a badge based experience worth sharing. I stopped my little Elise in a small town whilst out on a Sunday afternoon whizz, to procure some liquid refreshment of the ale variety. As I began the clamber to alight my vehicle, I was approached by what can only be described as 'a fit bird'. [coloq. eng-Lang] The afore mentioned female enquired in a disappointed tone as to what kind of kit-car I was driving - as she did so, she spotted the nose badge. The sight of the badge won a nod of approval from which a conversation ensued. Said conversation continued in the pub over a beer, and concluded the following morning when I picked my trousers up from her bedroom floor. An experience I attribute entirely to the small p!
lastic adornment on the nose of my car.

Remove yours at your peril!!!


The following is a letter to the editor, as it appeared in Autoweek, August 17, 1998. It refers to an article about all the gimicks appearing on cars these days. It expresses the sentiments of the typical Elise buyer:


In response to your "Longing for a car without a stove" (AW, Jaundiced Eye, July 27), let me raise my hand and be called upon. There are numerous reasons why the manufacturers have lost me, such as the number of gizmos that are included in a price that is beyond my reach or desire.

I long for the return of the days of no airbags, no ABS, no traction control, no DRL, no side-impact beams, no fwd, no plastic body cladding and yes, no radio, heater or variable wipers. Even rubber mats might be a consideration. Sigh. . . you can call me "Sally."

ROBERT HALL, Arcadia, Calif.