He said goodbye to his beloved 15-year-old Series 1 Lotus Elise a few months ago.
ADORED that little car. I bought it off a friend, who had owned it for 10 years and parked it in his living room every night. The Elise was my daily ride for over three years – a task for which it was utterly hopeless, because on a hot day, the heat soak from the engine behind the cabin easily defeated the valiant eff orts of the air-con, and the F1-like driving position made it impossible to see far enough ahead to anticipate traffi c conditions in town. And high side sills coupled with that ultra-low roofline meant that it was nigh-on impossible to enter or exit with any dignity.
And for anyone of more than medium build, impossible to enter, period. I once off ered a lift to a portly colleague who took one look at the tiny aperture into which he would have had to contort himself, then immediately walked away and caught a taxi instead. But despite all that, approaching the Elise’s tiny shape in the offi ce carpark every evening still lifted my spirits. Its lithe lines, devoid of any adornment yet bulging with purpose, were to me purer and more captivating than those of any Italian supercar.
Its steering wheel was non-adjustable and its fixed-back, thinly padded driver’s seat only adjusted fore and aft, yet the driving position was utterly perfect, everything falling exactly to hand and never a stretch away. Even that ancient 1.8-litre Rover K-Series engine with its meagre 118bhp provided thrills, accelerating the featherweight roadster with remarkable verve and popping away merrily on the overrun.
So why sell it? Simple economics, unfortunately. Having to do the morning school run with two kids necessitated the purchase of a four-door (although this “everyday car” still revs to 9000rpm and rocks a limited-slip diff , he-he, but that’s another story), which in turn meant the Elise became a driveway ornament, looking pretty but going nowhere. I clung onto the Elise for six more months, but the truth is, I was struggling to find time to run it even once a week.
And even as it sat there unused, it was still costing me every day, thanks to its COE clock ticking relentlessly away. I so wanted to keep it – the Series 1 Elise is an iconic car, with resale values already creeping upwards worldwide. But in Singapore, any appreciation of the vehicle itself would likely have been off set by the value of the COE balance heading in the opposite direction.
Paying road tax and insurance annually on a barely used toy would have been painful, too. So head ruled heart, the ad went out, and the car was sold within a day. But as if to prove the Elise isn’t for everyone, the new owner found he couldn’t live with it, and put it back on sale within a week. On holiday in Paris recently, I saw a gorgeous blue Series 1 Elise blatting by topless, its owner clearly having the time of his life. Yes, my heart ached. But at least I’d been there, done that.
EDRIC THANKS HIS LITTLE LOTUS ELISE FOR THE MEMORIES BEHIND THE WHEEL.