Saturday, April 30, 2016

Below Market: 2006 Lotus Elise

The Lotus Elise was introduced in 1996 as the ultimate in minimalist mid-engined motoring bliss -- but the Series 1 Elise was never imported to the United States.  We had to wait until 2005 when the series 2 Elise was federalized for sales in the US, which only lasted until 2011.  Today, prices for the Elise are about as low as they will ever be (arguably trending upwards), so pick one up before they get out of reach.  Find this 2006 Lotus Elise here on eBay offered for $23,500 buy-it-now or make-offer, located in San Diego, CA.

The total production of 2005-2011 Elise & Exige for the US market was 6,325 units with the vast majority sold in the first two years -- looking at production figures over at versus model year explains why Lotus stopped selling these things in the US -- in 2010 they only sold 35 Elises and 60 Exiges. 

Powering the US market Elise is a Toyota 2ZZ-GE inline-4 that was tuned by Lotus to produce 189 horsepower.  Performance was supercar challenging for its time -- 0-60mph takes 4.7 seconds and handing was great, just don't put R-compounds on the car unless you add oil pan baffles.

This Elise popped up after a $30k asking modified example we found on eBay was snapped up by a buyer.  Why is this feature car considerably cheaper?  A few things, first it has a few more miles (30k vs 12k), it doesn't have the mild suspension and baffled oil pan upgrades -- but most significant to price is the salvage title. 

Would you risk the salvage title for a chance to drive a cheap Elise?  See a better deal on a lightweight?


  1. The Elise is one of those cars that often has a salvage title. The clamshells are pricy and adhesives replacing fasteners make for insurance companies willing to pass on the risk.

    Know of a few of these with salvage titles for clamshell replacement. If one is interested in an Elise don't automatically rejecte a salvage title. Look into the details and do some research on title and insurance.

  2. It is interesting to take note of what cars are most often salvage titled. Nissan latest gen. Z cars have a high right-off rate. There are several others in that ilk, and I just figured it was the demographic and street racing scene.

    I had not been aware of inherent design constructs could contribute. Interesting.

  3. Wow, I did not realize that US sales fell off the cliff like that. Such a great formula: Toyota engine in a gorgeous, spartan Lotus. I sure hope that it is not a canary-in-the-coal-mine for the Alfa 4C.

  4. Too late now, but in case anyone is curious; an Elise chassis is much easier to inspect for damage than most cars. The belly pans and diffuser can be removed in a matter of minutes. This allows easy access to the frame bonds, suspension mounts, and crash structure. If these three things are damage free, the salvage Elise is very likely a safe bet. The crash structures are bonded on and dated, so it's easy to see if it's original to the car. If you see any signs of welding in the vicinity of orange epoxy, run like hell.

  5. As Scot said, it feels like I see as many of these with a Salvage title as not. With that said, this isn't that extreme of a deal by any stretch. Most weeks I can spend about 10 minutes on Craigslist and find one with a clean title and reasonable miles for well under $30k. They're prices are rising, but certainly not spiking as it appears they would. I'm actually starting to eyeball the Evora, now that they're starting to approach the sub-$40k barrier. I like the Elise, but with a family of 4 the two seater concept just doesn't cut it.


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