Lotus Elise (re)Introduction: The 1800 Pound Paper Weight

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I could write a book on the absurd amount of procrastination that went into letting my 06 Lotus Elise sit in disrepair for 4 years. It would be too kind to say I was busy when in reality, fixing a non racecar just hasn’t been a big priority. But as the years roll by, it’s started to become almost a point of embarrassment and a running joke amongst friends. So this off-season, I vowed to repair and start running the supercharged Lotus Elise. To showcase it at the Ronald McDonald Charity Autocross we put on annually.

The Story (So Far)

I’ve stayed pretty true to my original intentions for the Elise.  Enjoying it as a daily driver/autocrosser/track day toy for a couple years while improving the car in a few choice areas.  Namely weight reduction, handling and power.  Not that the car isn’t brilliant as is.

I went the forced induction route to add power and bolted on a BOE Fabrication super charger kit.  I opted for the non intercooler kit for simplicity and weight purposes.  The kit yields close to 260hp at the wheels and transforms the acceleration characteristics quite dramatically.  (an understatement) Adding wider wheels and wider, less staggered rubber, kept the power to the ground as well, yielding a car with similar driving characteristics from the factory.  But amplified.

About to realize I’ve got major problems when I can’t out accelerate a stock Scion FRS.

I enjoyed about 5000 miles of mixed use bliss in this configuration until one particular track day when the car simply lost it’s grunt.  Not being one to waste precious track time, I stayed out until I noticed a stock FRS keeping up on the main straight.  Then I knew this wasn’t a little hiccup.  Back in the pit I checked the oil to discover the dreaded milkshake effect that indicates coolant in the oil.  And a blown head gasket in this case.

After getting the car home, I parked it in the garage and that is where it sat for an embarrassing four years.  I was so ‘busy’ racing in 944 spec and time trialing a BRZ that the Lotus fell into disrepair.  At least that’s the excuse I tell myself.  What could have been a weekend repair has turned into a full car inspection/flush/rebuild. But it is something I am determined to rectify.

Note: As of this writing, the Lotus Elise has been fully disassembled and thoughtfully put back together mechanically.  I am one day away from cranking the car up and well ahead of my February 1st  2020 deadline for the charity event. Check the nav page soon for more info as I catalog the process of resurrecting the Lotus Elise.      

By Chris Simmons

Chris Simmons is a race car driver, instructor, business owner and all around gearhead. His passion for motorsport started in the drifting community over 10 years ago and progressed into wheel to wheel racing of all kinds. When off track Chris can be found training and working on a myriad of projects. After a hiatus from writing, he is back to share his passion, knowledge and experience in regard to motorsports on and off the track.

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