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TheRev
TheRev Reader
4/4/22 3:35 p.m.

So after a couple years of saving, I thought I might be in the position to purchase an older Elise. When I did a bunch of research on them 3 years ago, $30-35k was sufficient. Now, I'm seeing hardly anything below $50k. Has the market moved that much in the past few years on these cars, or am I just looking in the wrong places? I do worry that with the era of this car dying out, we might never see them affordable again. Thoughts? 

One caveat, I am a bit too chicken to buy a salvage title Lotus. I do see some out there for a more affordable price, but that designation scares me with this purchase being such a significant amount of my available savings.

One more related question: would a 2009+ Boxster S / Cayman S be "almost" as fun as an Elise? That seems to be one of the closer analogues. I say '09+ to avoid the whole IMS mess. I'm not including S2k b/c I've already done that. Was fun, but want to try something new.

Thanks for any advice or words of wisdom.

 

dps214
dps214 Dork
4/4/22 3:44 p.m.

You'd have to do research on the individual car, but a lot of times a salvage title on an elise just means it was in a minor fender bended and needed a new clamshell.

Having never driven an elise, I'd venture to guess that the cayman would be almost as much fun or maybe more fun but in a different way. But at this point you're not getting one of those with a manual and in decent condition for much under $50k either.

The market for...basically everything is inflated at the moment. I'd assume it will cool off some at some point but I'm guessing we're past the point of any of these cars being back in the low $30k range again. My saying on porsches in particular but really anything remotely collectible is "just buy it now because if you try to wait and save up for it, it's always going to be slightly out of reach".

calteg
calteg SuperDork
4/4/22 3:58 p.m.

Sold my chrome orange Elise several years ago for $35,000. Really regretting that decision now. 

I think the Elise/Exige are both buoyed by the fact that their Federal crash test exemption ran out/they are no longer produced/we likely will never see a factory car that light again. 

I've owned both a first gen Cayman S and an Elise. I'd take the Elise all day, every day, hands down. If for some odd reason you absolutely need "practicality" in your two seat sports car, the Cayman is a much, much better DD, but it felt numb compared to the Lotus.

TheRev
TheRev Reader
4/4/22 4:01 p.m.

In reply to calteg :

No, I do not need practicality. Sounds like the Elise is more my style for this purchase. I guess the question will be whether I'll ever find one in the 30's. Maybe the release of the Emira will move some of the Elise's onto the used market. Or maybe not.

calteg
calteg SuperDork
4/4/22 4:09 p.m.

In reply to TheRev :

Doubtful on both counts. My guess is that the Emira will depress prices of the Evora. 

The one saving grace is that the Elise/Exige are kind of like the Viper. Ultra low mileage garage-queen status is the expected norm, so "higher mileage" units do face a bit of a price penalty. IIRC, my 2005 had 33k on it when I sold it and I had a lot of comments about how "high mileage" it was. 

Personally I'd prefer one with 80 or 90k on the odo over a salvage unit, but that's just me. 

TheRev
TheRev Reader
4/4/22 4:18 p.m.

In reply to calteg :

I've seen similar comments and don't really understand them. It's a Toyota drivetrain! Not a Ferrari. I would think it'd need 30k miles just to break in. I, too, would definitely prefer high mileage to salvage. 

GeddesB
GeddesB Reader
4/4/22 4:35 p.m.

In the last year they have really been going.  They announced the end of production and that seemed to spur the demand.  

 

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
4/4/22 5:16 p.m.

Elise is a toy, Cayman/Boxster is a real car that you can comfortably DD.  Decide how you're going to use it and buy accordingly

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
4/4/22 5:28 p.m.

At this point, I'd be looking to import a Series 1 Elise from England. They sold a ton, so there should be a pretty wide selection. They're a lot lighter and I think they look better than the Series 2. And RHD isn't that big of a deal: takes a couple of days to get used to it.

ckosacranoid
ckosacranoid SuperDork
4/4/22 5:46 p.m.

Since no one has made the comment.....Miata?

TheRev
TheRev Reader
4/4/22 5:57 p.m.

In reply to ckosacranoid :

Had multiple of those. Love Miatas. Just wanting to try something different. Lotus has always been an aspirational experience I wanted to try out. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
4/4/22 5:58 p.m.

I driven both but only on track: 

The Elise is raw fun, super light and chuckable. I love them but If you're a bigger guy and or have mobility issues climbing in and out of one may get old quickly. I will say driving one always feels like an event.

The Cayman is beautifully balanced and a joy to drive. It's also a nice place to be.

If I were choosing at the same price point I'd go with the Cayman because if I ever want to drive to dinner in it my wife will actually ride in a Cayman. 

fatallightning
fatallightning Reader
4/5/22 9:31 a.m.
LanEvo said:

At this point, I'd be looking to import a Series 1 Elise from England. They sold a ton, so there should be a pretty wide selection. They're a lot lighter and I think they look better than the Series 2. And RHD isn't that big of a deal: takes a couple of days to get used to it.

It's still early. 1996 was first year, and they made something like ~300 worldwide. Production slowly ramped up from there. The Rover motor is also... eh. I'm looking at S1 Elises, and they start around 20k GBP (27k USD roughly). I'll probably wait for a sorted Honda K-swapped one to import. Or a Vauxhall VX220 turbo when they're eligible.

I paid 27k for my 40k miles 05 Elise about 9-10 years ago. Got 32k when I totaled it 3 years ago. It's probably a mid 40s car now. I don't think they're coming back down. Finite supply, rising demand etc. 

If you haven't looked at 987.2 pricing lately, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. An Elise is much more engaging and communicative, and feels more special. The Cayman is probably faster in every situation, but eh. 

mblommel
mblommel Dork
4/5/22 9:49 a.m.

Prices are definitely on the rise and have been for some time. Clean cars are 50+ now, who knows how high they'll go.  Heck Ferrari 308s used to be $25k. 

I've been looking at S1's in the UK, but after shipping and customs they arent cheap either. 

Since Lotus is in the electric supercar and people mover business now I keep wishing they would sell the rights like they did with the 7 so we can get kits one day. 

JoeTR6
JoeTR6 Dork
4/5/22 10:06 a.m.

My wife and I were driving along the local Interstate recently when an Elise went zooming past.  She loved it, so I told her all about them.  When she asked about the price, I just said "too late".  Should have bought that low mileage 2005 chrome orange Elise when I had the chance.

calteg
calteg SuperDork
4/5/22 10:51 a.m.

I'll also add, if you're thinking about an Elise for track work, don't. A minor 2 wheel off can easily total them. The guy who bought mine had a truck throw up a medium size rock on the highway that damaged the front clam. The drivetrain is amazingly robust, but the body is actually pretty delicate. The car absolutely feels special and every drive is an event, but the relative fragility kept me from pushing it more than 7/10ths

bmw88rider
bmw88rider UltraDork
4/5/22 12:48 p.m.

In reply to calteg :

I don't know. I've seen 2 elise lose their motors this year already and it's not like I've been at a ton of events this year. They are fun but fragile cars for sure. 

fatallightning
fatallightning Reader
4/5/22 1:13 p.m.
bmw88rider said:

In reply to calteg :

I don't know. I've seen 2 elise lose their motors this year already and it's not like I've been at a ton of events this year. They are fun but fragile cars for sure. 

They need a baffled oil pan. Otherwise, usually they live okay. Occasionally wipe cam lobes. Obviously more mods, the less reliable. 

TheRev
TheRev Reader
5/2/22 10:02 p.m.

Regrettable update on my search for an Elise. I actually found one in my price range ($40k) nearby (Houston) and was ready to go buy it. So I excitedly shared the details and pics with some non-car friends whom I trust, and they warned me against going down this path. Turns out that buying what everyone will assume is a small Ferrari is not wise for the founder and president of a local charity raising money to care for the poor. After a few days stewing on that, I think they're right. While we all know it's a $40k car, none of my neighbors will. They'll see it and think that the guy asking for their help to build a charity is driving around in a 6-figure Italian exotic. While part of me doesn't care in the least what anyone thinks of me, I do care about our success in helping the poorer residents in our town, and do see that the optics of an Elise would be very problematic in my chosen career. So, thus dies that particular dream, at least for now. Maybe I'll find a used ND miata and throw a v8 in it. That'd be fun and no one would think twice about that :-)

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 UltraDork
5/2/22 10:37 p.m.

I see what you are saying and it still sucks. I'm sorry. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/3/22 8:54 a.m.

Real problem, it's certainly not a cheap car and to the untrained eye it looks way more expensive than it is. Definitely not something you'd want associated with charity work. Meanwhile if you show up in a $50k+ new pickup nobody bats an eye, cruel irony...

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
5/3/22 9:41 a.m.

Perception is an interesting thing.  Out of all the cars in my garage (Porsche Cayenne diesel, 2003 Porsche 911 Turbo, VW Corrado, Nissan Xterra, Toyota Land Cruiser) there's one that is head and shoulders more expensive than all the others.  Literally the most I've *ever* spent on a car, by a long stretch.

Nope, it's neither of the Porsches, it's the Land Cruiser.  Yet it's totally unassuming and nobody thinks anything of it.  Most of the F150's people drive cost more than both of my Porsches...

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
5/3/22 11:09 a.m.

In reply to TheRev :

Do what I did and buy an early Evo.

The CE9A (Evo 1/2/3) is the same size and weight as an E30 318i, but can make over triple the hp with stock turbo and internals. Excellent handling and braking. Explosive acceleration. Genuine racing history.

The best part? Non-car-people will think you're driving an old Kia and feel sorry for you. 

j_tso
j_tso HalfDork
5/3/22 11:32 a.m.

In reply to TheRev :

Maybe try a 2nd or 3rd gen MR2?

Roger that on perception. You could buy a 20 year old Mercedes for under $10k and people will still be like "OMG you can afford a Mercedes?!"

calteg
calteg SuperDork
5/3/22 5:25 p.m.

In reply to LanEvo :

I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter. We 'muricans have to subscribe to the 25 year exemption...which of the early Evos do you prefer and why?

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