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GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
8/8/17 9:14 a.m.

I might have a unique opportunity on my hands to own an S2 Elise for the price of a new bargain-bin penalty box. Still a lot of money for me, but I could juuust afford it. And if the car is in good shape, I could easily flip it later for AT LEAST 2x what it cost me. But there are a number of things that scare me about an Elise:

  1. Body clamshell cost. The car has two giant, madly expensive body panels. If they broke I would HAVE to DIY them. I could not even afford forms of insurance that could pay for these panels.

  2. Are there cheap substitutes for all parts? Lotus-brand parts are madly, madly expensive, but most powertrain and brake parts are from the Toyota parts bin, so you can get cheap substitutes. But which are the parts that I should live in fear of, the ones that I can only get replacements for from Lotus?

  3. Rich dude markup. All aftermarket Lotus parts suffer from it, similar to R35 GTR parts but on a smaller scale. And this isn't strictly related to the car, but if I even want to get parts fabbed for the car, anyone who sees it isn't going to pull any punches on the bill. Can cheap coilovers for the car be put together without buying coilovers for a Lotus? Which are the most helpful aftermarket mods? I know about the rear RTD brace and spherical bearing rear toe rods, I'm sure I can get that fabbed for about half what the kit costs. I'll also have to check the cost of brake pads.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
8/8/17 9:30 a.m.

There are "proper" ways to repair the clamshells but I don't know if they are any cheaper. Without insurance I would not be too keen on driving around in the thing.

I imagine you can, aside from that, operate the car on the cheap if you DIY everything. You probably need access to a lift or clever use of block and tackle to raise it high enough for serious mechanical work.

So, buy it, clean it, flip it but don't crash while you are doing it.

fanfoy
fanfoy Dork
8/8/17 9:34 a.m.

What would be the use of it? Race car? DD? nice weather toy?

Any car can be run cheaply if you can wait for a bargain and you don't have to rely on it.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/8/17 9:34 a.m.

Have you sat in one? Try that first. That's the #1 cure for wanting an Elise, at least for anybody over a certain height and/or weight.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
8/8/17 9:37 a.m.

Yeah I'm almost 6'2" and long in the torso so I might not fit. I might be kind of relieved at such a deal-killer.

In my hands, I would use it for weekend driving, autocross and track days.

Honestly the biggest turnoff of this car might be that it will make me look like a Hunger Games villain in this country.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
8/8/17 9:42 a.m.

Rule of thumb is that you only insure stuff you cant afford to lose. Sounds like you need to have this insured.

Owning is Lotus seems to have a lot in common with naked skydiving without a parachute; its an exhilarating exercise in minimalism until you hit the ground.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
8/8/17 9:49 a.m.

On an Elise, you need full insurance coverage unless you can afford to throw away the money you paid for it. The clamshells are the typical part that gets broken, but if you get into an accident and the chassis is damaged, that one is essentially unrepairable, at least to factory specs.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
8/8/17 9:51 a.m.

Unlike most other Lotuses (Loti?) the Elise is a pretty darn reliable car. There are firms out there that can help---- but it's not a Miata, it's going to cost you a bit more. Check out companies like Dynamic Racing Solutions, as they've been modifying these cars since they were launched.

Dynamic Racing Solutions

I'm also allured by the Elise siren song.....but I can't justify buying one yet. When I'm ready, I'll be calling Hayes Harris at Wire Wheel Classics. He sells tons of Elises, and also does minor clam repair to lightly damaged cars. These sell with a salvage title, but that wouldn't bother me as long as the car was true and solid.

Wire Wheel Classics

If you can swing it, now is the time to buy. With Lotus discontinuing the Elise, and not offering a direct replacement, Elise and Exige prices are rising, and likely will continue to rise.

And they are a hoot to drive!

STM317
STM317 Dork
8/8/17 10:10 a.m.

If you're really confident that it could be sold for twice what you'd pay for it, then that's a pretty easy decision. Buy it, insure it fully, and sell it for profit as quickly as you can. That's how poor people become less poor. That way you make money, and don't have to deal with the high costs to maintain/insure that thing, and you don't have to constantly worry about something happening to it and you being financially ruined.

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
8/8/17 10:21 a.m.

There a lot of solace in having a car you can just drive without fussing over, like an old pair of jeans. If you aren't going to be able to be comfortable using it, I'd pass.

It won't be fun if it makes you neurotic every time you drive it.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
8/8/17 10:22 a.m.

I'd have to see what full coverage costs. I'd be shocked if it was less than $3k/yr. My cars are about $500/yr each for liability-only.

The emotional side of me thinks keeping it long-term and selling the AE92 might be a decent idea, but the logical side of me is screaming "NO you frickin' idiot, this car is a terrible idea as anything but an investment! Even as an investment, the sheer amount of money involved makes it inherently risky! Has all the blood gone to your gearhead woodie!?"

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
8/8/17 10:27 a.m.
GameboyRMH wrote: The emotional side of me thinks keeping it long-term and selling the AE92 might be a decent idea, but the logical side of me is screaming "NO you frickin' idiot, this car is a terrible idea as anything but an investment! Even as an investment, the sheer amount of money involved makes it inherently risky! Has all the blood gone to your gearhead woodie!?"

I advise you to let the big head do the thinking in this case.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
8/8/17 10:34 a.m.
GameboyRMH wrote: I'd have to see what full coverage costs. I'd be shocked if it was less than $3k/yr. My cars are about $500/yr each for liability-only. The emotional side of me thinks keeping it long-term and selling the AE92 might be a decent idea, but the logical side of me is screaming "NO you frickin' idiot, this car is a terrible idea as anything but an investment! Even as an investment, the sheer amount of money involved makes it inherently risky! Has all the blood gone to your gearhead woodie!?"

I'm not sure what kind of deal you are looking at, but nice, used Elises are running from $25K to $35K. The cheaper ones have salvage titles, the more expensive ones do not. If you have a line on a good, solid one for $12K---- that would be a no brainer. (for me at least, but I'm accused of having no brain frequently)

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
8/8/17 10:41 a.m.
GameboyRMH wrote: I might have a unique opportunity on my hands to own an S2 Elise for the price of a new bargain-bin penalty box. Still a lot of money for me, but I could juuust afford it. And if the car is in good shape, I could easily flip it later for AT LEAST 2x what it cost me. But there are a number of things that scare me about an Elise: 1. Body clamshell cost. The car has two giant, madly expensive body panels. If they broke I would HAVE to DIY them. I could not even afford forms of insurance that could pay for these panels. 2. Are there cheap substitutes for all parts? Lotus-brand parts are madly, madly expensive, but most powertrain and brake parts are from the Toyota parts bin, so you can get cheap substitutes. But which are the parts that I should live in fear of, the ones that I can only get replacements for from Lotus? 3. Rich dude markup. All aftermarket Lotus parts suffer from it, similar to R35 GTR parts but on a smaller scale. And this isn't strictly related to the car, but if I even want to get parts fabbed for the car, anyone who sees it isn't going to pull any punches on the bill. Can cheap coilovers for the car be put together without buying coilovers *for a Lotus?* Which are the most helpful aftermarket mods? I know about the rear RTD brace and spherical bearing rear toe rods, I'm sure I can get that fabbed for about half what the kit costs. I'll also have to check the cost of brake pads.

Whenever I see posts like this, my question becomes- what are you planning on breaking?

The clamshell seems like a very clear worry- people get in crashes in the real world. So in terms of repair, can you do enough quick research to know how to fix it. It's still fiberglass, right? Not CF? But better made than the Esprit.

For the powertrain- is there any evidence out there of a common failure? If not, I'd not worry about anything. It's a Toyota. Sure, engines can have problems, but by now, it would have happened. So now you keep up on wear items- which is like the PCV system on a Miata after 15 years- that seems to be the most common fault.

And for modifications- what are you plans? I appreciate that you would like to do some, but seems like the Elise is one of the cars that is set almost perfect for this board. Especially when you factor in the cost of each change, and what that change means to the car and owning it (and your typical drive cycle).

So, what it really means to me- how much risk can you deal with on the shell and fixing it. Keep it clean, you make some good money owning the car. Which is a VERY rare thing to happen.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
8/8/17 10:44 a.m.

This one's going for about $24k (which is about what the cheapest new cars go for around here), but bringing one in when they were new would've been $250K~350K, and importing a used one that originally cost $25k right now would bring you up to a grand total of at least $60k (or it would've a couple years ago, but they're more than 5 and less than 25 years old, so you can't import any S2s for a while).

Story is that a rich woman brought it in but suddenly had to flee the island and she never drove it herself. She might've looked up what they cost "back home" or just what she originally paid for it (she could've brought it in duty-free if she was a returning national), and set the price based on that. Or maybe there's something horribly wrong with it that I'll find out about when I see it. If I were buying it I'd get the local Toyota dealer to have a look over it (maybe also a rally mechanic I know who crewed for a team running an Exige) and check compression and oil pressure.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
8/8/17 10:49 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: Whenever I see posts like this, my question becomes- what are you planning on breaking?

I almost never plan on breaking things, but boy do they ever break anyway!

For mods, only things I'd be interested in doing would be aftermarket rear toe rods & brace for safety reasons, coilovers (unless maybe it has a track pack or I'm just satisfied with stock), DIY big diffuser, some kind of square (as in not staggered) wheel&tire setup for maintenance reasons, and a hardtop when the soft top wears out. No interest in touching the brakes or engine other than for cooling/reliability mods if required.

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
8/8/17 10:50 a.m.

You might want to find out why she fled and make sure nobody is 'looking' for her in that car. ;)

Blaise
Blaise Reader
8/8/17 11:07 a.m.
GameboyRMH wrote: This one's going for about $24k (which is about what the cheapest new cars go for around here), but bringing one in when they were new would've been $250K~350K, and importing a used one that originally cost $25k right now would bring you up to a grand total of *at least* $60k (or it would've a couple years ago, but they're more than 5 and less than 25 years old, so you can't import any S2s for a while).

Mind if I ask where you live? NZ?!

Edit: Searched, somewhere in Caribbean?

yupididit
yupididit Dork
8/8/17 12:56 p.m.

Get it! find a way to afford it. If you pass on it, send me the info

LuxInterior
LuxInterior Dork
8/8/17 1:04 p.m.

Owning an Elise while making money on it. What's the question?

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
8/8/17 1:13 p.m.
Blaise wrote: Edit: Searched, somewhere in Caribbean?

Yep.

I've arranged to see the car tomorrow evening.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse SuperDork
8/8/17 1:58 p.m.

Seems like there could be a very good business for making reproduction, low-cost clamshells for these cars

Yavuz
Yavuz Reader
8/8/17 8:50 p.m.

I recently made an ownership/build thread for the one I bought earlier this year. Worth taking a look at as I go through a couple of the common failures in that thread: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/2006-lotus-elise-build-thread/131235/page1/

Not sure how insurance is where you are, but I was pleasantly surprised with mine. I think I'm at $1,100/yr for it. I was around $1,000/yr on a Mazda2 and my Lexus CT200h is about $1,200/yr.

You nailed a couple of the bigger items. Clamshell replacement is in the five figures with paint and labor for either front or rear. They're both stupidly fragile too, so you have to be careful not to hit anything.

There's a good amount of aftermarket for the car, but any OEM Lotus parts are going to be silly money. There is a Lotus tax on a lot of aftermarket pieces too, but the good news is that you can still find decent coilovers for ~$1,000 instead of having to spring for the $7,000 Penskes.

If the car is only $24k and doesn't need any major high-dollar work - that's a steal.

79rex
79rex New Reader
8/8/17 9:52 p.m.

Prices seem to be going up with no drop in sight. Buy now and sell later if you decide you dont want it.

Harvey
Harvey Dork
8/8/17 10:03 p.m.
GameboyRMG said: Body clamshell cost. The car has two giant, madly expensive body panels. If they broke I would HAVE to DIY them. I could not even afford forms of insurance that could pay for these panels.
GameboyRMG said: In my hands, I would use it for weekend driving, autocross and track days.

You can't afford insure it to the level where it could be repaired, but track day is in the cards? LOL!

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