Ads on test: Lotus Elise (Series 1)

There are few greater pleasures in motoring than blasting an original Elise down a B-road on a sunny day.

Cost New £18,990 Price £18,950

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This lightweight sports car reminded the world why the Norfolk firm's reputation as a legendary chassis builder was wholly deserved. It also steadied the ship and ensured Lotus stayed buoyant for decades to come.

This Elise is certainly a rarity. It's only covered a handful of miles and has clearly been cherished by its two owners. It's being offered for sale by The Private Collection in Oxfordshire.

Upon close inspection what's immediately striking is the lack of stone chips on the front end. The cheeky frog-like snout hovers inches from the surface of the road and it's often first in the firing line of errant pebbles. Not so here. The car sported a protective film coating from new and when this was peeled back the nose was given some fresh Azure Blue paint. Therefore it remains spotless.

The first owner kept the car for 16 years and always serviced it on time at his local specialist garage. The second owner was the first's neighbour. He had the cambelt changed in 2015 and replaced the battery in 2018. There's also a big bill for a replacement headgasket and a top end valve-stem seal refresh in the extensive service history folder. This work was carried out less than 3000 miles ago leading to further peace of mind for the new owner.

As you'd expect of a car that's lived such a charmed life, this Elise drives faultlessly. The response remains as razor sharp as it always was with the steering and chassis reacting without the slightest delay to driver inputs. The gearchange remains tight and mechanical in operation, free of any slop. Even the trim has survived without any significant signs of wear.

The tyres are a near-new set of Yokohama A052s all round and they just grip and grip. The K-Series engine over the shoulder sounds sweet and revs as vigorously as ever. There's no nasty clonks or ticks hinting at anything less than a motor that's in rude health.

A good Elise should be very high up the list of anyone's ideal old car collection. Rarely has an Elise owner had the self restraint to resist regularly taking theirs out for a quick thrash, making this one quite special.

Lotus Elise (Series 1)

Year:     1998
Mileage:    16,769
On sale at:    The Private Collection
theprivatecollection.com

Specifications
Engine:     1796cc, 4-cyl, DOHC
Transmission:    RWD, 5-speed manual
Power:     118bhp@5500rpm
Torque:     122lb-ft@3000rpm
Weight:     755kg

Performance
0-60mph:    5.5sec
Top speed:    124mph
Economy:     34mpg