1998 Lotus Elise from UK and Ireland - Comments

28th Jul 2006, 06:58

Seems like this owner COMPLETELY missed the plot of the car... you CAN use them every day no problems. They're also great handling cars wet OR dry, you just have to treat it with a bit of respect because you're driving a SPORTS car with no traction control, no driver aids and nothing other than YOU keeping it from spinning around on you.

Probably the best fun-for-money car you can buy EVER.

15th Nov 2006, 10:58

I have had my 89 Lotus over the last 3 years and love it like it was the first time I drove it. It is nothing, but fun and a drivers car. Forgot all the fancy stuff, this turns heads like no other car on the road, and despite the flaws in the rain and the window playing up, wouldn't change it for any other. I use it as a every day car and no issues just smiles.

3rd Jan 2007, 15:13

The spartan nature of the Elise is not a barrier to every day use as long as you adjust your expectations. I found mine surprisingly comfy (once inside) and I could do a couple of hours up a motorway without excessive fatigue.

What I couldn't live with was the appalling build quality, and short service life of many expensive components. Shocks and exhausts that disintegrate after a disgustingly short time, headlamp brackets that rust to oblivion at the first sign of winter salt, engine cover release cables that snap annually, torrential water leaks in anything more than a light shower, window regulators falling off the doors etc etc.

The engine was reliable, but virtually everything else packed up or went wrong. I would agree with the original reviewer that it's a dreadful everyday car, although maybe not for the same reasons. If it was built properly, it would be superb.

13th Apr 2007, 11:37

I have just purchased a 1998 si and I am looking for somebody with some pro and cons.

24th May 2008, 21:08

If you want to see danger in the wet, buy an XJS V12 with a 6.0L TWR engine; this teaches you right from wrong in these conditions.

The Elise is a pleasure to drive; yes you get a bit wet in the winter, and there are niggles, but keep it serviced with a specialist, not a dealer, and it represent great fun & value.

21st Jun 2008, 07:47

I bought an S1 5 years ago off a friend who had it from new. Used it as my only car for ages - had a 'first' car but never wanted to drive it, so got rid since the big 4 door just sat there. It was the most reliable car I ever owned up to that point (my new first car is a Jag for big miles - 50K in 2.5 years). I had the interior upgraded by lotus so it was actually an amazing cabin, lighweight carpets and all - in fact the new interior looks incredibly like the Gallardo it parks next to! The window guides on all S1s are a pain, but it's irrelevant ;) That aside it was absolutely brilliant until I blew the engine at the Nurburgring this weekend after 70K of hard thrashing :) I'm keeping the car and replacing the engine with an audi turbo for o-100 in under ten. I love this car, I love the people I've met through it - what more can I say? (as an aside, reliability of a 'good' example of a ten year old car is not judged by replacing items of wear and tear - did it have all receipts and a full Lotus history like mine?)

21st Jun 2008, 07:52

As far as driving in the wet is concerned, looks like a classic example of the people who spin their cars in the first six months syndrome. Many do -an Elise is a performance car which you have to learn to drive. I've never lost my car on a public road - that's just inappropriate driving. just my 2P.

28th Dec 2009, 07:23

I'm thinking of buying a Lotus Elise 1998 with 60,000 miles. Does the roof leak bad? Is there any other advice? Thanks.

13th Jan 2010, 05:13

The roof will leak like a sieve. They all do. You have to live with it.

The engine is lifted straight from Rover (1.8 K-series) and is pretty reliable, but can suffer the head gasket problems that affects many of these engines. Otherwise they are tough and reliable given correct servicing. The build quality of the car is quite poor and combined with the ultra-light design ethos can lead to niggling problems. Bits fall off the interior, the headlight brackets rot and the headlights fall into the clamshell, the cable for the engine/luggage cover often snaps, the fuel fillers go porous etc etc. Nothing terminal, but equally be prepared to live with (or constantly fix) little problems as they arise. An Elise isn't a 'turn key and forget between services' experience that say, an Audi TT would be. But it doesn't drive like an Audi TT either. This is a proper sportscar.

I would recommend getting the car inspected by a specialist. Although many parts come from mass produced cars and are fairly cheap, some of the bespoke stuff (suspension, exhaust, brakes) can be eye wateringly expensive compared to a "normal" car.

Brett Fraser from Evo magazine ran an older Elise for a while, and spent thousands on it in the first year getting everything right. Take someone with you who knows what they are doing, and price up any work needed before you make an offer.

A well serviced, properly cared for 60,000 miler could be a good buy, but the service history should be comprehensive, and the seller shouldn't hide anything. Look for a cost-no-object approach to maintenance from either a Lotus dealer or a trusted independent specialist.

This car, on the right road, is more fun than you can ever imagine, and makes most other cars feel ponderous, overweight and soggy. Just buy it very carefully.

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