1 2
JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
3/1/18 1:17 p.m.

Like stories like this? You’ll see every article as soon as it's published by reading the print edition of Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now.

photos by tom suddard and ed higginbotham

They say less is more. Then again “they” say a lot of stuff, much of it incoherent, unhinged or, at best, just flat wrong.

Even so, one can make a powerful argument for less being more, so perhaps they’re on to something here.

We’ll go one better and say that adding more to less, thereby transcending the more you thought would happen by getting to the true core of “more” by actually winding up with less, is more.

Got it?

This tortured prose is what seems to result from any discussion of the Lotus Elise and Exige, flyweight sports cars that leverage their lack of mass into an abundance of performance. A standard Elise comes equipped with modestly sized tires and a somewhat mundane engine, but manages to outperform far more muscular and aggressive cars merely by weighing a single ton. Because there’s just not much car to move, it moves so much more easily.

But what happens when you add more to that less? What happens when you replace those modest tires with more aggressive ones, or augment that average engine to superhero status? Can the lithe and light Elise and Exige handle the pressure of all these expectations?

Hayes Harris, owner of Wire Wheel Classic Sports cars and purveyor of fine Lotus Elises and Exiges, presented to us a small fleet of these cars that perfectly demonstrates that question: How do they react when the knob is upped to 11?

Read the rest of the story

wspohn Dork
3/1/18 3:46 p.m.

Ultimate driver's car was either one of these, depending on your age and preference.


dean1484 MegaDork
3/1/18 7:30 p.m.

The one your best friend owns and let’s you drive. 

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
3/1/18 7:45 p.m.

Having owned (and driven, ahh... difference there for some...) a Europa TCS, Esprit Turbo and an Elise, I think that for driving, the Europa takes it.  For long distance high speed cruising, the Esprit.  The Elise was interesting, but didn't have the slam you acceleration of the Esprit or quite the cornering of the Europa.  As a guy in a rather hot V8 Mustang told me (regarding the Esprit):  "I've never seen anything pull away from me like that." 

thatsnowinnebago SuperDork
3/1/18 9:56 p.m.

Seems like y'all have a pretty rough job some days. 

3/2/18 10:08 a.m.

My interest in Lotus goes back to the time of Jim Clark.  I own two now; a Super 7, and a type 50.  The one I think is pure driving is the Super 7.  It is about as simple of an automobile as one can get.  It is low on creature comfort, but high in driving excitement.  It is simple enough that any basic garage can repair and maintain without breaking the bank.

Stefan MegaDork
3/2/18 10:29 a.m.

The one that runs and drives?

NOHOME UltimaDork
3/2/18 11:01 a.m.

I have been waiting for some one to recreate the Elite  as a Carbon Fiber shell and with a small bore turbo engine.

Would it be possible to make a CF spoke?


banzairx7 New Reader
3/2/18 11:08 a.m.

None of the above. The 7.

wearymicrobe UberDork
3/2/18 1:23 p.m.




No 211. Though I think a lotus Elise with a K20a2 swap like the below 211 is the best drivers lotus they make.


racerdave600 UltraDork
3/2/18 1:34 p.m.

A long time Lotus fan but never an owner.  sad  Of the ones I've driven it is a toss up between a Europa and an Elise.  I'd probably take the Elise if I had to choose one, but its close.  One of the best times I ever had with a car club was with the Lotus guys driving a 7.  There was none of the pretentiousness you get sometimes with the BMW or Porsche folks.  They know how to have a good time and don't take themselves too seriously.

te72 New Reader
3/3/18 12:10 a.m.

I'd love to own a Lotus someday, their design philosophy has always resonated with me, as far as sporting cars go. However, my remote location makes getting to a track a "take a few days off work" affair, and the weather around here would relegate any of the topless cars (looking at you, 7) just about pointless for 9 months of the year.


Nice to dream though. =)

Shawnb New Reader
3/3/18 7:16 a.m.

I’ve owned an Esprit and Elise.

I used my Elise for 2 years as a daily driver, even though I had other vehicles in the stable. I absolutely loved that car, and it didn’t even have AC. Also got caught in a few snow storms running star specs... Shockingly it did just fine.


It was also the first vehicle to almost kill me. Going 80 or so over a bridge, and the oil coolers both started leaking. Came extremely close to smacking a barrier, but luckily didn’t hit anything and the motor didn’t explode. It was out of warranty by this time, but Lotus took extremely good care of me. 



Every car after the Elise I compare to it, and hope to find a better motoring experience. That still hasn’t happened. I will cave and own again. Once the prices of the 400/410 start to drop, I will give one of those a shot as well. They sound so good in person, haven’t had a chance to drive one yet. The NA Evora was nothing special  




3/5/18 3:25 p.m.

In reply to racerdave600 :

I've seen the same thing.  Lotus drivers are generally people who really enjoy driving, but who don't take things so seriously that it kills a lot of the fun.

LesAlbin New Reader
3/5/18 3:27 p.m.

In reply to Shawnb :

I've been daily driving an Elise since 2005.  Made road trips to St. Louis and Aspen, CO from Houston.  Great car for the road and for the track.

LesAlbin New Reader
3/5/18 3:37 p.m.

In reply to Dr. Hess :

Add a supercharger to the Elise and change from street tires to some slicks and I think you will find what you see as the shortcomings of the Elise more than adequately addressed.  The base car is pretty fast, but the chassis and suspension easily absorb another hundred plus horsepower and changing to the Lotus Sport suspension bits and a good set of track tires takes the car from lots of fun to a much higher level.  I drive my Elise to and from the track, but while I am there I run with the guys who bring their cars with no interiors to the track on trailers.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
3/5/18 3:40 p.m.

Yeah, well, unfortunately my Elise was totaled by a dumb berkeleying kid in a Jeep.  It did need more HP, certainly, and the supercharger would probably do it.  Anyway, I decided to fix up my old crap instead.  I have 2 Europas and a Locost that need to be finished, or started, depending.

racerdave600 UltraDork
3/5/18 5:32 p.m.

You know, I probably didn't need to see this thread.  After two years of driving a bunch of cars, I had just about made my mind up to pull the trigger on a Cayman.  Now I've found myself calling a local add for a supercharged, never wrecked Elise with 22k miles and only $32K.  I hadn't realized you could get so much Elise for so little money.  Anything specifically to look for other than normal items?

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
3/5/18 7:13 p.m.

What year?  Make sure the oil cooler hoses were replaced.  Ask Me How I Know.  AC fan ballast resistor replaced?  I've got one on the shelf.  An AC temp thermistor also.

racerdave600 UltraDork
3/6/18 10:23 a.m.

It is a 2006.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
3/6/18 11:20 a.m.

That's what I had.  It was a good car, besides the little issue of blowing the motor from the oil hose connector.  Like I said, the AC fan resistors need to be replaced because water drips on them, the AC coil temp thermistor needs an upgrade so the coil won't freeze up on you, and that's really about it.  Make sure the title is clean.  Add a splitter (makes a big difference on the highway).  I really think the oil cooler(s) should be moved to the engine bay side.  I think (my theory) that most of the problems with the Elise's 2zz motor are related to that.  Rollas don't have those problems and Rollas don't have 20' of oil lines to deal with.  I'm glad that car is not local to me.  I might be tempted. 

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
3/6/18 11:25 a.m.

Also add an Accusump accumulator.  That is probably pretty important, especially for tracking.

racerdave600 UltraDork
3/6/18 2:14 p.m.

Thanks Dr. Hess...not going to look at until Saturday, it's already been a long week. 

Mark_42 New Reader
3/7/18 2:44 p.m.

AW11 - cheap, reliable & plentiful

jnoiles New Reader
10/19/19 5:54 a.m.

Pish posh.  The ultimate drivers car was the *series 1* Elise.  Pure, lightweight, not trying to be something it isn't.  Old enough to have one leg in the past and one in the future.  Delightful, tactile, wonderful machines.

1 2
Our Preferred Partners