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Buyers Guide to:

Lotus Elise Series 2

Useful Info


2000 to 2011

Fuel Type


Engine Size


Engine Type


Drive Configuration


Club Lotus

Paul Matty Sports Cars

Just Kampers

01256 862288,


Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, was famous for his philosophy of ‘simplify then add lightness’ and the Lotus Elise certainly embodies that. Launched in 1996, the new car took a minimalist approach to performance motoring, and was constructed using a bonded aluminium chassis and composite panels. Power was provided by a 1.8-litre Rover K-Series engine with 118bhp, which was plenty in a car this light, and performance and handling was superb. This really was all about the purity of driving. Late 2000 saw the arrival of the Series 2 model featuring lightly revised styling and mechanicals, and the following few years saw a number of additional versions including the Sport 135 and Sport 190, and the 111S. In 2004 the Elise gained a Toyota engine with a useful 189bhp and a facelifted model was launched in 2011.

  1. We didn't find any particular areas of concern while working on the Lotus Elise Series 2, but we always recommend that you check over the vehicle thoroughly in all the usual areas.

The Checklist

  • The composite bodywork very carefully as damage repairs are a specialist job, and won’t be cheap. Replacing the front or rear ‘clam shell’ sections can cost thousands, too
  • For signs of previous paintwork repairs as the bodywork is susceptible to picking up stone chips
  • That the riveted and bonded aluminium chassis hasn’t been damaged. The Elise is a popular track car, making accident damage a distinct possibility, and you’re best walking away if the chassis has been compromised
  • The aluminium floor for signs of corrosion, and take a look at the under-trays beneath the car; damage could point to time spent on a race track
  • That you know the speci cation of the car you’re buying. Various options packs were offered when the car was new – the Touring Pack, for example, added carpets and leather trim – so it’s worth seeking out the right car for you
  • That engines have been serviced regularly by someone who knows these cars - hard use means proper maintenance is essential, including cam belts being changed on time
  • Which engine is fitted as the type and power output varied during production. Most units were the Rover K-Series - be very wary if it shows any signs of overheating, and check for ‘mayonnaise’ under the oil filler cap which points to head gasket failure (although it was less prone to problems in the Elise.) The Toyota engine from 2004 is usually trouble-free unless neglected. Either way, check the condition of the oil and coolant
  • For blue smoke from the exhaust which points to a hard-used engine suffering from internal wear
  • The gearshift as worn linkage bushes and cables (which can be replaced with uprated items
  • for a couple of hundred pounds) will cause problems, and the synchromesh could be weak on hard-used examples. Clutch judder means a replacement is needed, so budget accordingly, while whines or clunks from the differential could mean a car that’s had a hard life
  • For uneven tyre wear which points to problems with wheel alignment or worn suspension bushes and ball joints. Upgrades are common, so ensure you’re happy with any work that’s been done, though bear in mind that a complete overhaul won’t be cheap
  • That the brake discs and pads aren’t worn. Again, it’s not uncommon to find upgraded aftermarket items have been fitted so speak to a specialist if you’re unsure about any work that’s been carried out
  • That the steering feels sharp and doesn’t exhibit any play. Anything less will need thorough investigation, and could be evidence of a worn steering rack
  • The condition of the roof panel – it’s fiddly to fit and clumsy use can lead to damage to the fixings
  • That the interior isn’t scruffy, although it’s very simple with little in the way of trim or equipment to worry about. Window mechanisms can fail and are labour-intensive to fix, and check that the heating works as the matrix and fan resistor pack are both weak points

Everything Check Out?

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