Elise Diary Number Two

hidden Elise

Lotus Cars, 2003 Calendar (hiding it from America, chuckle)

This is my story. I am going to document my purchase, ownership, and feelings about my Lotus Elise. So far I only have a throttle pedal, a manual, and models of the Series 1 and 2 in my possession. Sometime in 2004 I will have the car itself.

Diary Entries

September 2004Spent the month on vacation and worried the car might arrive while I was gone, returned August 23. Dealer has no news on my car, but was willing to check. The car is in the Port of San Diego! Close! National security concerns about containers delays many ships in the harbor.

Dealer calls August 31 and says my car is unloaded and prepared. It will be delivered within 72 hours! Now I have to arrange to fly down to pick it up.

July 2004The first customer car was deliverd on July 15th.

My car is built and is in a container as of July 14th. It should arrive at the port, Felixstowe, the weekend of July 17. Soon...(30160)

June 2004 Nope, my car was not built last month, but the order was confirmed by Lotus. Due to insufficient supplies of the LSS wheels, cars with the LSS package are not being built. Mine is scheduled to be built in July.

The waiting is difficult. I called Austin and made arrangements to pay for the car. I checked with my insurance agent to make sure the car will be covered. General consensus is the cars will not arrive until the very end of the month and mine will be later because of the delays with the LSS option components. Austin suggested the 21st or so for first customer cars.

The cars were shipped in containers at the beginning of the month! They aer on the way!

April 2004I got a call last week, April 12, about my order. I wanted the LSS Sport package and a hard top. I ordered Storm Titanium and asked for a tan interior. Unfortunately the tan interior is leather and only comes with a Touring Package and so I settled for black interior. Well, when the order reached Lotus and was ready to be built, the order still showed tan interior. I got an urgent call asking to confirm the interior color and I happily said black. My car was built this week!

04-04-04 was the magic date committed to by Roger Becker when he displayed the Elise at the LA Auto Show two years ago. Thanks to Roger and Sue's efforts, they beat the date!

March 27Production of the Federal Elise starts.

I find out my order is number one from Desert European. (Thanks Austin.)

LCU is going to take great pains to have the cars arrive at all the dealers at the same time.

February 2004Lotus obtains waivers from the Department of Transportation! I guess Lotus is serious about bringing the car here.

January 2004I removed my deposit from Symbolic Motor Cars in San Diego. I have since placed my order with Desert European Motor Cars in Rancho Mirage, California. Austin Lewis has been most helpful.

I got a call from a fellow Lotus enthusiast who has an Elise on order. Lotus called and asked to confirm his order! Several days ago, I was asked to do the same! Lotus is getting ready to build the first batch and needs to estimate what material to order from the suppliers.

Lotus UK and Lotus Cars USA provide a series of press releases providing information on the US Elise and the 111R.

December 2003I attended the media days at the Los Angeles Auto Show. I have placed the pictures in the proper places and have added some movies of the press conference.

I had a wonderful time talking with Arnie Johnson, Alastair Florance, Tony Shute, Nick Adams, and Steve Crijins. I tried to get answers to some of the questions people emailed me. I did my best to record my experience but feel I just could not absorb all the wonderful conversations.

(My apologies on the quality of the pictures. The environment was poor and reflections terrible.)

November 2003Andrew Barron wrote an article about the first test drive of the Federal Elise in ReMarque Magazine, the club newsletter for Lotus Ltd. His review was very straight forward and answered many of the difficult questions. It is a must read.

The Lotus press conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show is on December 30 at 10:50.

October 2003The Road and Track article is impressive. I am happy to see Roger Becker get the credit he deserves for bringing the car to the States. (I am disappointed in the listed weight of 1975 lbs!)

Clyde takes a poll on what options potential Elise owners want for their cars.

I start making plans to attend the Los Angeles Auto Show, where the car will be introduced.

Media cars start arriving next month. Chris gets to drive an Elise with the Toyota engine.

I make massive changes to the organization of my web site in order to better accommodate the huge influx of new information.

September 2003The East and West Coast Lotus Gatherings do not bring any official announcements.

Officially, the engine for the car will be announced at the Frankfurt Auto Show on September 8th.

Rumors persist:

  • Engine - Toyota
  • Engine management - Lotus mapping & spec
  • Gearbox - 6 speed
  • Weight - 1800 lbs
  • Interior - stereo, elec windows, power door locks, no cruise
  • air con (don't expect it to freeze like US systems)
  • Wheels - possible change from 111S
  • Optional hard top
  • Optional touring package (more sound deadening)
  • price $38,500 - $38,700 ($42,000 with options)

Sam Mitani of R&T has driven the prototype of the US car and was more than impressed. It was more than he was expecting. Watch for his words in an upcoming issue of R&T. (November issue?)

Lotus released a press announcement about the Federal Elise engine choice. There is also one announcing the Exige Series 2. (September 8, 2003)

I put a for sale sign on my Seven and take it to the British Car meet in Palo Alto. I park next to a Sun International Elise and spend some time talking with the owner.

August 2003I write Arnie a letter, congratulating him on his progress in bringing the car here. I tell him I definitely want one.

I called Brent Smith again and leave a message. The person taking the message suggests the car will be sold at "market value" which gives me the chills. It reminds me of buying the NSX when it first came out.

Kiyoshi and I talk about what color we want.

It is fun watching all the new forums and discussions show up on the Internet as more and more people realize the car is coming and that it is something special. Many do not understand performance driving and worry more about the interior. One suggests the car will be better with a center console and gets a response from the Lotus fanatics.

I start to get the Caterham ready for sale.

Incidentally, it was reported today that a US reporter has had a sit in a US-spec Elise for the first time the other day. (28 Aug 2003)

June 2003I buy my Series 2 models and renew my efforts on the web site.

I start contacting dealerships regarding placing an order and leaving a deposit.

I exchange emails with Nick Smith at Symbolic Motor Cars in Southern California.

I called Brent Smith in San Luis Obispo and leave a message. He does not return my call.

I start thinking about buying a Ford GT 40 or the Lamborghini Gallardo.

April 2003I learn the target date for the Federal Elise is April 4, 2004 (04-04-2004) I contact my sources and find this is true and the development is on schedule. I learn there are additional financial problems at Lotus and some of my favorite people are let go.

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Elise model

This is the only Elise I own, photo by the author

Trivia: The thumbnail is a picture of my very pregnant wife leaning on the hood of our NSX, along the meca of all drivers, Highway One in California. We suddenly realized we would soon be three and could not fit in the car! We are now five, and I still have the Seven, and the kids love it.