Home » I Love The Lotus Elise But It Literally Doesn’t Fit Me

I Love The Lotus Elise But It Literally Doesn’t Fit Me

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For years, I’ve dreamt of buying a Lotus Elise. It’s the budget “exotic” car, whose small stature and spidery eyes captivate both auto enthusiasts and people who don’t care about cars at all. But I finally drove one the other day, and I had to accept reality: The Elise isn’t built for me. 

The good news is, it’s probably built for you!

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This 2005 Lotus Elise is currently available for sale on Cars & Bids. Check it out and bid here

The Lotus Elise is a dream for many, myself included. It’s an iconic British sports car that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1995, and when it arrived in the U.S. in 2004 with a price of $41,000, it was a hit with car enthusiasts. The Elise had great styling, a super-light fiberglass body, a mid-mounted Toyota engine with 190 horsepower, a redline of 8,500 rpm, and a six-speed manual that sent power to the rear wheels.

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It also followed Lotus’ famous motto: “Simplify, then add lightness.” When it debuted, the Elise weighed under 2,000 pounds—about 400 less than the already-light Mazda Miata—and could go from 0 to 60 mph in 5 seconds. It mixed classy styling with a go-kart soul. 

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The Elise became a gem on the used market, too. For years, it was the $30,000 sports car, and to me, that made it one of the most iconic cars on the 2010s internet. When you started getting into sports cars and wanted to buy one, I feel like one of the first stories you used to find was one from my boss at Cars & Bids, Doug DeMuro. That story no longer exists at no fault of Doug’s, because despite what they told you 20 years ago, not everything on the internet is forever.

But the main idea was: No matter the year, mileage, condition, or external inflation, a used Elise cost $30,000. Rarely did one cost more or less, and that accessibility further fueled the Elise’s popularity. (Unfortunately, those days are over. Right now, the cheapest Elise on Autotrader is $47,900. Inflation, right?)

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The Elise’s upsides—price, looks, sportiness, and the generally reliable Toyota engine—were met with two main downsides. The first was that it became known as a stereotypical British car, with fussy electronics and bits of plastic that fell off sometimes. The second was that the Elise’s highly regarded fiberglass body was one big clamshell, meaning sometimes, a little scratch could total the whole car. But many people think it’s worth the risk. (It is.) 

When I drove a maroon 2005 Elise recently, it was like meeting a celebrity. We picked the car up from the dealership selling it, RPM Garage in Dallas, and I remember walking through the showroom looking for the Elise in a sea of bright cars. 

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The Elise moves out with mid-mounted, 1.8L Toyota power. As spec’d and tuned for for the Elise, the 2ZZ-GE engine sends 190 horsepower to the rear wheels and redlines at 8,500 rpm.

 

Barely any of them had maroon paint, so I thought the Elise would be easy to find. But it was so tiny, tucked away into a corner, that I didn’t even see it until the staff started pulling other cars out so the Elise could drive through. I cupped my hands over my mouth at the size—and cuteness—of it. 

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Screenshot 2024 01 26 At 2.26.02 pm
With a standard-size Alanis for scale, it’s easy to appreciate just how compact the Elise is. There’s just a tick over 90 inches between the axles.

 

I got in my car and followed an RPM staffer to a nearby parking lot to film the car. The Elise was magical to drive behind; I’d seen so many photos of the halo taillights and “LOTUS” branding on the rear over the years, and here I was, trailing both in person. 

Driving the Elise was a blast. It was a little go-kart, stripped bare as a soda can and ready to zip. The pedals were light and close together, and the gated manual shifter was distractingly fun; I find that when I can see the gates, I want to watch the shifter go into gear with each shift. 

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Screenshot 2024 01 26 At 2.28.58 pm
“It’s meant to be a toy, it’s totally a toy, I love things that feel like toys!”

 

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The lack of power steering made parking lots and multi-point turns into an arm workout, and I laughed the whole time. Here I was, in the smallest car on the road, having a much harder time turning the wheel than any of the SUVs around me.

Once the car got rolling, that lack of power steering was divine. The slight tension yet glide in the wheel every time I turned it, the acute awareness of the car and its weight under me—I felt like part of the Elise, not just its driver. 

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“The interesting thing about a gated shifter is that you actually pay more attention to where you’re putting the stick because you can see where it goes.”

 

But I faced one hard truth in the Elise: Like many bare-bones sports cars, actual go-karts, and track cars, it’s just not built for me. The square shape of the seat doesn’t mesh with my rounder hips and thighs, and because my legs only had so much space to fill, I had to drive with my knees together and kick out each foot to reach the clutch and accelerator pedals. It was still fun to drive, but seat sizing always makes me think of the auto industry as a whole.

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Screenshot 2024 01 26 At 2.27.31 pm
Here, Alanis demonstrates how effortlessly cool you’ll look when you pull up in front of a fancy restaurant and unfold yourself from the Elise.

 

I find that when I can’t fit in certain seats, men who are bigger than me – taller or wider – can. It’s because the seat is built for a square body, and my body is not that. It makes me wish for more inclusive sizing and shaping of seats, because ultimately, a little seat curvature would’ve done a lot for my comfort. 

But the Elise isn’t meant for comfort. It’s meant for fun and flashiness on a budget, and that’s what it provides—even if the budget is a little higher now than it used to be.

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Eric Smith
Eric Smith
2 months ago

The last two paragraphs could be copy-pasted into half the reviews of cars I’ve ever test-driven and 100% agree.

I wish I knew the solution but OEMs should offer more differentiation when it comes to seat shapes (and where able/necessary seat SIZE). I understand from a bean-counter perspective why that’s not a thing, but no excuse for luxury and/or really just anything over say $60K to not have options for seats.

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
2 months ago

An aftermarket seat will let a curvier figure be relatively comfortable, however an over 6′ 400 pound hawaiian, not so much. You have no idea how disapointed my little brother was when he tried to get in one for a test drive. We had to take the roof off so he could drop straight down into the seat.

Tim Palethorpe
Tim Palethorpe
2 months ago
Reply to  Geekycop .

I bought the Elise Sport new in 2006 – it had Exige seats. I’m 6′ 2″, 225 lbs. First, I would suggest only using the soft top/no top. You can unlatch the soft top on the driver’s side very easily and flop it over to your right…easy to get in and out this way. I always got in race-car style…sit your butt on the sill, slide into the seat and rotate your legs into the car. Before this article, I have never seen a gate for an Elise shifter…?

My friend and I did a 1,000 mile road trip along the Sierra’s in the Elise…. So much fun! I will say that the aluminum monocoque is LOUD on concrete highways, but fine on smooth blacktop. No other car I have owned handles like an Elise, and I’ve been very lucky to have had some wonderful cars. It could be a daily driver, depending upon your days, but daily freeway driving on concrete would be tiresome, but around town, no problem. Drive it like you ride a motorcycle, as folks don’t see you…my Elise Sport wass Saffron Yellow with Titanium strips, so pretty visible…but still, way below where driver’s tend to look. Great car – very sorry I ever sold it!

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
2 months ago

The only time I ever hitchhiked, was in an Elise.

I was doing manual labor outside all day, and we got done early. My SO was scheduled to pick me up hours later. I didn’t own a cell phone, so I hiked over towards the start of the on ramp to a highway, to get back home/downtown.

Now, I was gross, sweaty, kinda dirty. Lots of people stared and drove right past me, which like, I totally get.

I’m there for about 10 minutes, and suddenly I see a forest green Elise shoot around the corner, and my universal I need a ride thumbs up changed to a rock sign, and surprisingly, the lotus slowed down and stopped right in front of me.

“Where are you headed?”

“Anywhere you are, I really want to ride in your car”

“Hop in”

What followed was so incredibly awkward, as I had never gotten into an elise before, and had to follow the driver’s instructions on how to best do so. If you ever see one of these at a car show, PLEASE ask the owner if you can try to get into it. The combination of crazy tall sills with extremely low roof and small opening in general is just… hilarious.

Anyway, guy was super cool, not an axe murderer, and some lawyer. He was super cool, and told me a few stories about his experiences hitchhiking in Europe.

I haven’t ever hitchhiked since, and I don’t think I ever will, unless maybe it’s a Lambo or Ferrari or something.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Thanks for sharing that. Good story and I get the exact mental picture of one trying, then failing, multiple times to do the simple thing most of us never even consider: just getting into the damned car.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric Smith

Glad someone laughed. Have a good one, cheers!

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
2 months ago

For the over-6′, don’t give up yet! There’s aftermarket seats that can give more hip room, and I think the 2006+ padding changes should also help. Overall it’s surprisingly roomy for such a small car, because it makes no concessions to anything but the driver. No 2+2, minimal storage, and even the legroom divider is off-center sacrificing some passenger space for pedal room.

I always had better luck getting out planting my left foot outside but the right foot inside with my right knee moved left of the steering wheel. Then head out first, and stand up.

The gated manual is definitely an aftermarket mod, and looks like a big improvement over the rather sloppy factory setup.

Jimal
Jimal
2 months ago

That’s a bummer about the Exige. They are too much fun to drive,and the last time I sat in one I fit.

The last time I drove an Exige, I brought one home from work to put some miles on it (I used to work at a very cool place) so I decided to take over to my parents’ house to take my dad for a ride. He wasn’t in the best health at that point (in fact, he passed within the year) but he sort of poured himself into the passenger seat, we went for a ride around town,and went over to visit one of his co-workers.

I took a picture of him with a big smile on his face before we started the process of taking the car off of him. Which is what it was. I still don’t quite know how we got him out without the help of the Fire Dept, but we did. And without taking apart the car.

Younork
Younork
2 months ago

Having worked in a classic car dealership, i realized that most people dont fit in many of the non-American cars, this meant I, the youngest and tallest guy on the staff, was left to move all the little MGs and other british things around just cause i could fold myself up to fit in them. All 6ft of me could fit in an MG with my knees next to the steering wheel, and my size 12 nikes could press all three pedals at the same time, with one foot without rotating my ankle.

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
2 months ago

It makes me wish for more inclusive sizing and shaping of seats. . .”

Perhaps it is not surprising that a heroin-chic English Elise makes an American with “rounder hips and thighs” feel uncomfortable, but that does not make that treatment acceptable.

It is not ok that Lotus discriminates against the body type you described, which I believe the kids are calling the PAWG body type. I certainly do not share that bias.

However, if it is of any consolation as a 6’2″ v-shaped male many cars have discriminated against me including:

-An NC Miata PRHT that I had to sell because I had to tilt my head with the roof up.
-The 2010 to 2024 gunslit Camaros.
-Any sports or sporty car with a sunroof (I can claim that sunroofs are not for real enthusiasts anyway, but I do at times like them).
-Even a Chevy Silverado Crew Cab, which many would assume is a vehicle god designed specifically for me, I can’t quite get comfortable in, although fortunately I bought it mostly for my nanny to drive my kids around.

Anyway, the struggle is indeed real.

Jb996
Jb996
2 months ago
Reply to  Racer Esq.

Sorry, off topic, but can you explain how, and by what criteria, a Chevy Silverado Crew Cab was the sensible choice for nanny kid-ferrying duties?
Why did a minivan, wagon, sedan, or even a large SUV not work?
I think this is the most… unexpected… car use-case alignment I have ever heard.

Edit: Unless the nanny just dumps the kids in the bed like a yard of dirt? That would then make sense!

Last edited 2 months ago by Jb996
Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  Jb996

As an automotive enthusiast, I too started at the point that the most common vehicle configuration in the US makes no sense. But, in fact, it does.

It was a mid-size three-row SUV, but after a texting and driving realtor rear-ended me in that, totaling it (fortunately I was the only one in it), I decided to go bigger.

New I got it for $37,995 last year. An equivalent full-size SUV would have been at least $10,000 more and I don’t need three rows. Plus the full size SUVs have gone to less reliable IRS.

With a Line-X bedliner and a roll-away, locking aluminum bed cover it is a sedan when I want, and it can have stuff thrown in the back no matter how dirty or large when I want.

The Kia minivan has a combined MPG of 22, and the Silverado a combined mpg of 20, it’s not like minivans defy physics.

Plus it can tow over 9,000 pounds, which gives me a big buffer to tow a lot of things.

I am civilized, not even the dog is allowed to travel in the bed.

Isis
Isis
2 months ago
Reply to  Racer Esq.

I dd a SuperCab Raptor with 2 little kids and it is a perfect complement to my wife’s MDX. Sometimes the bikes get dirty, sometimes the powerwheels truck needs to be taken somewhere, sometimes you buy a minibike 2 states away during Covid lockdowns. I know folks like to hate on full-sized truck drivers, but sometimes the truck actually is the better tool.

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
2 months ago
Reply to  Racer Esq.

As a 5’-9” husky lad (I was a lot skinnier 30 years ago) the M-sport seats in my ‘12 335is at “full relaxed bolsters” had my thighs in pain after about 4 hrs in the saddle. Made the 2nd day of a 2,000 mile drive sheer torture. I’ve found that the 2” thick cushions intended for wheelchair users lift one’s butt high enough to alleviate some of the pressure.

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  Hondaimpbmw 12

Probably the worst seats I had in a car (not that bad, but the worst of any of my cars) were in a G35 6MT sedan. I think it was the seat heater element that made them rock hard.

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
2 months ago
Reply to  Racer Esq.

I’m hoping my ‘20 GTI Autobahn’s seats don’t turn into the automotive version of an Iron Maiden on our next X-country trip. I intend to take along the wheelchair cushions, just in case.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
2 months ago

About the seat: the best mod I’ve ever done was having my seat’s shape customized to fit me.

The standard BMW leather seat with no lateral support at all turned into a comfortable and grippy bucket. That approach could make an Elise Alanis-compatible.

Last edited 2 months ago by Manuel Verissimo
Is Travis
Is Travis
2 months ago

Really enjoying your reviews! Keep up the good work.
When I said we all need a break from Doug now and again, I didn’t mean it in a negative way. More in a thankful for a refreshing different take that isn’t his formula.
That gated shifter is just art.

Last edited 2 months ago by Is Travis
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago

My ex’s ex used to have an Elise. She was bigger than him in all dimensions, and said she always looked like a re****** beetle trying get out of one. She brought it up because she felt just about the same way getting out of the Z4.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
2 months ago

You’re picture of Elise departure perfectly illustrates the rule of thumb my daughter and I developed last summer after buying a 1987 Corvette and a 2000 Jaguar XK8: the more effort it takes to enter and exit the car, the more fun the car is to drive.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago

After a month or so with my S1 Elise (much higher sills they the US spec Elise) I could climb in and out about as gracefully as I do anything else, even with shopping bags in my hands.

It just takes practice, I couldn’t do it on the passenger side.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
2 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

My XK8’s feature where it’s supposed to tilt the steering wheel up when someone gets in doesn’t work, or the memory setting for it, so it’s stuck in the down, driving-position. That made entry/exit a bit more of a chore, but I finally figured out if I just sit perpendicular to the car with my back facing the passenger seat and then swing in, instead of a leg into the foot-well first, it works well, and I like to think it looks a at least a little bit more dignified.

Also, you have an S1 Elise? That’s awesome!

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago

I had it for 9 years, and it was awesome. I was so lucky. I only stopped missing it when I got my Europa.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
2 months ago

I knew a guy who preordered an Elise when they were first announced. The guy had a highly modified Z32 300ZX Twin Turbo as his daily driver, so nobody was really surprised when he returned from his trip to pick up his new Elise without an Elise. We all assumed the lack of power was what made him decide not to buy it, but it turned out that his “built like an offensive lineman” stature prevented him from fitting in the car. Apparently, he managed to wedge himself into the seat, but his shoulders didn’t allow the door to close enough to latch. He picked up a mark IV Supra Turbo instead.

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
2 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

When buying a Mazda I was browsing the dealer floor while the sales guys were “evaluating” my trade in (i.e. going for a smoke and getting a coffee) and sat in a Miata. Even with the seat all the way back I couldn’t get the door to close because my leg was wedged between the steering wheel and door. I fully expected to not fit comfortably but I was surprised I couldn’t close the door.

Turbo Quattro CS
Turbo Quattro CS
2 months ago
Reply to  IanGTCS

Same thing happened to me when I tried to get into my dream car, a TR6.

Tarragon
Tarragon
2 months ago
Reply to  IanGTCS

Yeah Miata isn’t the answer for me either.

I could drive an FB RX7 but the Miata is a bit tighter.

Dan Chen
Dan Chen
2 months ago

Fitting in an Elise is a phrase with lots of interpretations. No one actually “fits” comfortably in one. I had a Gen 1 1995 Elise. Love of my life. I’m 6’1″. Getting in and out is tough for any sized person – my wife at 5’2″ had maybe an even harder time. If you can “fit” it’s actually relatively comfortable if you take into account the seats had almost no padding, just leather over aluminum. But you’re not driving this thing to feel comfortable, any more than you would get into a race car to cruise in comfort. It’s a Lotus in the purist sense. Subtract everything except what is necessary for the mission. And the mission wasn’t to coddle you with air conditioning, floor carpets, heated seats, lumbar massage or a leather dash. It’s mission was purity. And purity hurts. The entire car could fit inside the box defined by the wheel hubs to the L/R and the bottom of the window line (H) of a Mercedes S class. And my entire car came up to the height of the trunk lid of a Miata.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
2 months ago

Sorry to hear, that’s such a bummer, looks surprisingly good in maroon too. As a slenderish 6’5″ dude I’ve come to the sad realization that a most of the great sports cars will never fit me so I feel a version of your pain. My dream car I’m afraid won’t fit if I actually get a chance to test drive it is a 1st gen BMW M Coupe.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
2 months ago
Reply to  Alanis King

Interesting I always assumed i was way too tall-I struggle to fit in a miata, I can fit in an s2000 and a new Supra but I wouldn’t want to drive more than an hour in either.

Dolsh
Dolsh
2 months ago

You should try the M Coupe. Bigger than you’d think.

JumboG
JumboG
2 months ago
Reply to  Dolsh

I was disappointed by the size of the Z series. I had 2 e36 convertibles, and wanted to get a Z3. So I went to look at one, and my head hit the roof. I’m only 6’3″ BTW. So while I was in the big city, I decided I better check out a Z4 so I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Plenty of head room in the Z4. Unfortunately, the leg well was so short and narrow I knew the car would be uncomfortable to drive for more than a hour because your legs had to stay in one position. If the seat would slide back a couple of inches more, it probably would be been OK. So I bit the bullet and got an e46 vert. I fit it in great, and even better now that I put a set of seat from a M6 in it.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
2 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

I wonder if the coupe has more headroom than the convertible though? I live in the Pacific NW and there’s just not enough good weather to justify how often I’d put the roof down vs the increased expense. The Z4 I have wondered about though anyways they’re still kind of cheap right now and the 1st gen ones have actually aged pretty well and I think are likely to be a future classic. Though increasingly I’m wondering if I bite the bullet and try to buy a clean higher mileage e46 M3 before prices go even higher.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
2 months ago
Reply to  Dolsh

Good to know-they’re so rare it’s hard to find one to even go for a casual test drive to see so if I see an actual M coupe on BaT or something I could go for it.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago

I would change
“It’s the budget “exotic” car” to
“It’s the “budget” exotic car”.

30k may be a reasonable price for something like this, and I’m sure it’s great value compared to any exotic, but 30k is still a lot, and it still has a Corolla engine. Especially when Corvettes exist.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Alanis King

Well the Autopian is the perfect venue to implement a new term, being filled with car nerds and whatnot. What would you propose that’s better than “exotic”?

I can’t say I particularly take issue with the term, but that’s mostly because I don’t care about exotics. It’s not an accurate term, not because it’s outdated, but because Italy has never been considered an especially exotic country, and that’s pretty much what exotic car usually means.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I think we could just change the spelling. Go with “Exotiq”, the “q” meaning “quasi” or almost. Of course Cadillac already has that trademarked… probably.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

“Near shore”

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago

“Littoral”

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Benthic.

D-dub
D-dub
2 months ago
Reply to  Alanis King

Toyotic

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’d rather have the running costs of a Toyota engine than an exotic engine. Especially a Yamaha-designed Toyota engine with an 8,500rpm red line.

Alas my Lotuses had the engines from a Rover Metro and a Vauxhall Zafira (although that is a GM engine, so just as exotic as a Corvette). There is much more to the driving experience than the badge on the engine.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Oh I’m not dissing on the engine, just the price. I’d much rather have a Toyota engine too. But it sure seems like a car with an exotic engine should cost more than a mass produced Corolla engine, and this is still kinda expensive despite the Toyota parts.

Gubbin
Gubbin
2 months ago

Hooray for more Alanis fun! The scale photo really tells a story.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Alanis King

Are you super tall? Or is the car really itty bitty?

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
2 months ago

Maybe a bit of both. The Elise is really short and low. When driving one, you look upwards at even smallish sedans.

Martin English
Martin English
2 months ago
Reply to  Gubbin

“With a standard-size Alanis for scale, it’s easy to appreciate just how compact the Elise is. ”

Americans STILL doing anything to avoid using the metric system.

Last edited 2 months ago by Martin English
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin English

It’s unlikely she’s more than 2/50 of a football field tall, and most people are square fingertip to fingertip vs. their height. Plus, sitting down, she’s gotta be what, 1/10000th of an acre? So there you go, passenger volume is 1/250000th of a cubic football-acre.

Edit: or a little less, seeing how uncomfortable it was and all

Last edited 2 months ago by Mechjaz
Mr E
Mr E
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin English

Sorry, but we measure everything in (American) football fields and/or giraffes.

For smaller objects, bananas.

Speaking of which, how many bananas long is that car?

D-dub
D-dub
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin English

At such a small size and weight it’s not surprising that it gets 40 rods to the hogshead.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin English

You’ve been using the metric inch instead of the US inch since the 1930’s.

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin English

Just for that, I’m now measuring everything in Whoppers. As in Alanis is 43 Whoppers tall and the Elise can accommodate drivers in the 50-55 Whopper range.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
2 months ago

I remember visiting a guy my Dad knew way out in the country that had one of these, we rolled past the only cop in towns house to make sure he was at home and then proceeded to hoon all over town. I didn’t get a chance to drive it but I distinctly remember how fun it felt and the awkward climb out of it after the fact. Good times!

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
2 months ago

I’m a 6’6″ fellow who can get into a Miata using the clown car maneuver but sure can’t physically drive it (funnily it’s not so much lack of legroom as the plastics below the steering wheel reaching too low. I can actually operate a NA fine because there’s a cavern below the steering wheel).

An Elise may be the pure sportscar I could get. A 6’5″ friend of mine used to run one no problem, and while I’m heavier than he is we’re proportioned similarly lengthwise.

Other than that and what I got (TTRS) it’s all either American muscle (meh) or well out of my budget.

Turkina
Turkina
2 months ago

I tried driving an NB Miata and I found my leg wedged firmly against the shifter. Every piloting input in that car made me have to adjust the position of my body in a different way just to get clearance.

Alec Weinstein
Alec Weinstein
2 months ago

Same height but 38″ inseam and 185lb. Lemme tell ya, the NB does *not* work stock.

Mpphoto
Mpphoto
2 months ago

This article reminded me of how disappointed I was when I tried to sit in a Miata at the Chicago Auto Show several years ago. I like how Miatas look and they sound like fun cars. I figured I could get one for fun when I retire in ~20 years. Well, my 6 ft tall 250 lb pound body had a heck of a time squeezing behind the wheel. Could I fit? Kind of. Did I fit well enough to actually drive the car? Nope. Dream crushed.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago

Maybe it’s required for these pieces, but that scale photo sure seems to say “this is the 2005 Lotus Elise…”

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
2 months ago

I have perennially been “the guy who doesn’t fit in things.” I am a smidge under 6’4″, and am built like an offensive lineman that really likes armchairs. And snacks. Add in the fact that most of my height is in my upper body, and I have a hard time.

In my younger, less voluptuous days, I could cram myself into a Miata, but ony if I closed the door with my arm outside of it, and with no roof. Now? Forget it.

My goal is to shrink myself down to where I fit in things again so I can buy a project car. Which one? Any damned one I want. I figure if I get on my horse now, I am about two years out. Pray for me.

LTDScott
LTDScott
2 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
2 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

The guy beside you makes that picture.

The Miata was written off for me long, long ago. A nice del Sol used to fit me well. Maybe if I get enough weight off…..

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
2 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

I have a similar problem. I am only 6’1″ but I have the torso of a guy who is 6’6″ and the legs of a guy who is 5’8″ (I am also a larger individual – not quite an offensive lineman but maybe a former linebacker who let himself go a bit after quitting football). I think cars might be worse for me than they are for tall people since I have to have the seat relatively far forward to reach the pedals. Many cars have roofs that slope upward toward the rear so I have less headroom than I would if I could slide the seat back a few inches. As a result, I literally can’t fit into a lot of cars (I have tried and failed to fit in an Supra, Boxster, Miata, Viper, and several others). I just accepted I will never be a sports car guy. Maybe get a project truck instead?

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Depends on the pickup, a lot of cool old pickups have surprisingly little cab room. My 1974 Jeep j10, despite being a fullsize pickup with a cab that looks as big as any other, has barely enough leg room for 6’0″ me, and somewhat limiting belly room behind the non-adjustable steering wheel. I fit fine cuz I’m skinny, but I’m guessing that most folks over 200lb would be kinda tight.

Counterintuitively, Ford Ranger cabs are huge, and have tons of legroom. Chevy Colorado cabs are less comfortable but have the most leg room of any car I have ever been in. And that’s a single cab midsize pickup!

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

> I am only 6’1″ but I have the torso of a guy who is 6’6″ and the legs of a guy who is 5’8″ (I am also a larger individual – not quite an offensive lineman but maybe a former linebacker who let himself go a bit after quitting football)

https://s1.dmcdn.net/v/LTNhc1VnxL8uO_NWp/x1080

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
2 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

My son wants me to do a Jeep, but I live in Ottawa, Ontario, and most Jeeps in my desired price range are in “David Tracy would condemn this” rust territory. And I HATE rust work.

Also, IIRC I don’t fit well in TJs either.

At any rate, it’s all motivation to lose a lot of Rollin’s Rolls

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago

If the Elise is too expensive, one might want to try a 2ZZ-GE swap into a Toyota MR2 Spider. You’ll have a car with very similar acceleration and cornering to the Elise, for much cheaper. And it will have a lower CdA value than the Elise and approach 40 mpg highway. However, the MR2 has even less than the scant storage space that the Elise at least has.

An Elise is on my list of cars I’d like to buy if money were no object. Alternatively, an Alfa Romeo 4C will do, but the Elise is definitely preferred, because it has a gated manual.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

You can make any manual gated if you make the linkage crappy enough and need to make up for it! Gated is still really cool but it is just an engineering hack to make up for bad design elsewhere.

I think we’ve discussed this before, but MR2 Spyder 2zz swaps are pretty much obsolete now. Worth buying one that is already complete and well done, and the only option really for a California legal swap. But 2AR and 2GR swaps give a much more reliable result, with much more power easily accessible. The maker of the swap parts sells a pre-tuned ECU that makes 250hp from an 2AR and maintains reliability. 2GR of course adds some more weight and 350hp is just the starting point.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago

350 horsepower in a 2,100 lb car sounds delicious.

A custom kammback top to cut drag on the MR2, among other drag reducing body mods, would also compliment it nicely.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Just in case you ever need to know, Elise seats do, in fact, fit in a GT6.
https://www.triumphexp.com/forum/spitfire-and-gt6-forum.8/do-lotus-elise-seats-fit-in-a-gt6.2021502/

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

So do Miata seats. And RCI Poly Lowback seats.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I bought an MR2 spider two days after selling my Elise. I was shocked at how flexible the front of the chassis was. Scuttle shake was awful even with the hard top bolted on. So much worse than my MX5 too.

The Toyota was fun to skid around in. I’m not sure why they thought it needed an LSD with that little power, but it was fun in snow. But it did very little to fill the Elise shaped hole in my life.

Not only was it disappointing compared to my Elise, it was disappointing compared to the mk1 and mk2 MR2s I had which I absolutely loved. It did cost less than a tenth of the money I sold the Elise for though.

I tried to love that MR2, I spent money on new suspension and tyres, I even turned off the EHPAS in the hope of improving the steering, but I didn’t love it. My next car was also a Toyota, a GT86, and I do love that.

Torque
Torque
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I was thinking along similar lines. The MR2 still seems to be an overlooked fun car

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
2 months ago

It would be interesting to see reviews of stock sports car seats from people of a few different body types.

I have an MR2 Spyder, with AP1 S2000 seats installed. I didn’t put them in, so I don’t have much comparison to the stock seats. My wife seems to be fairly comfortable in them, as am I. I’m 5’10” 210lb, in decent shape athletically but with about 20-30 extra lbs of fat applied pretty evenly. My wife is 5’7” and 120lbs and about as curvy as someone that thin can be. We’ve taken the car on road trips and been relatively comfortable(as comfortable as someone can be sitting 6” off the ground in a convertible with a 4-banger right behind your head for several hours, earplugs are a must).

I’ve heard people say the the Spyder is more accommodating to varying body shapes and sizes than the Elise or other small sports cars. I sat in a current generation Miata recently and was amazed at how much more cramped it felt.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
2 months ago

I mean, I’m only part English, but we’re not a people known for the curvature of our derrieres. Sounds like this car is a rare time that could work in my favor.

Square peg + square hole = victory!

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

I immediately thought the same thing. A narrow seat that may not be very inclusive is exactly what my skinny butt needs.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago

I’ve lusted after an Esprit since ever, and even though I’m 6’4″, I can actually fit in one. I mean, as long as it’s a V8 with the updated interior, has the glass roof panel in place (even better if it’s popped), and I will need racing shoes to work the pedals ideally, but damn it I’m gonna make it work one way or the other. Unfortunately values on Esprits have done just what Elise values have, and so much for that now.

Anyway this story reminds me of the guy pitted right next to us with a brand-new Elise at one of our track days. Guy had gone all in on this new hobby, new enclosed trailer, new tow rig, everything new and fancy. He’s a bigger guy but the roof panel has been off and he’s done a few sessions. Then it starts to rain. So he puts the softtop on. Unfortunately this is apparently the first time he’s ever attempted to get into this car with the roof in place, and he cannot do it. At all. He tried for about four minutes before he finally gave up, and he and his instructor went out in the rain with the top off.

Moral of the story is try a car on in all of its guises before making that purchase decision.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Did he pass the broomstick test?? It seems like if he can’t fit in with the top up his very important bits would be at major risk in a rollover.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago

I think he did, the problem as I recall was girth. It’s a very small portal with the top up.

I’ve not sat in an Elise, but I have in a Tesla Roadster, which isn’t 100% the same but I think the hardpoints of the door portal and whatnot are the same. But then my track car is not easy to get into either so maybe I’m more flexible, or determined.

Last edited 2 months ago by Matt Sexton
Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Oh yeah, I can see it now. I think a big part is the rails on the tub. I’ve got an MR2 Spyder and it has a relatively capacious opening. I managed to fit a Solo Stove Bonfire box into the front seat and make it home. I can’t remember if I had the top up or down, however.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
2 months ago

My wife and I rented an Elise for a day on our honeymoon in Vegas. We were poor-ish and it was the cheapest exotic we could get. It was my second favorite part of that entire trip.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

No more explanation is necessary, because I got married in Vegas.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

We eloped to Reno. By the time we got into town and to the courthouse for our license it was around midnight, but hey, it turns out they’re open around the clock. The clerk was surprised and delighted by the fact that we both had valid IDs and were sober.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

“By the power invested in me through the Nevada state gaming commission, I now pronounce you man and wife”

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Yeah. Wayne Newton is hard to beat

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

I’d rather just be rolled up in a blanket I think.

Pappa P
Pappa P
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

If it was red and some time around 2010, I probably rented the same one.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
2 months ago
Reply to  Pappa P

It was red, but 2005, so it’s plausible! Although there was another red Elise there at the time. We watched it drive out of the same garage we were parked in. Scared me to death for a minute thinking someone was stealing our rental!

Last edited 2 months ago by Rad Barchetta
Pappa P
Pappa P
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Mine definitely had some wear, like a different tire on each rim, and absolutely no synchonizers left in the transmission, so 2005 would be perfectly plausible.
I’ll never forget watching the 6’4″ valet attempting to get out of the car, and after several contortions, finally falling to the ground. He handed me the keys and then said angrily “I’m glad I never have to get in that car again!”
I want one everyday.

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