Tiny Terror: 2005 Lotus 111R Federal Elise – Sold?
February 5, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across one.
“Simplify. Then Add Lightness” was the mantra of British car design engineer and Lotus founder Colin Chapman. Lotus engineers carried on Chapman’s design philosophy nearly fifteen years after his death when they launched the Series 1 mid-engine Elise in 1996. While Lotus produced this car for nearly ten years, it was never designed to meet U.S. crash safety specifications. Fun fact: the original 1996 models turn 25 this year, so we expect to start seeing the importation of right-hand-drive examples later this year once travel restrictions finally ease.
Americans had to wait nearly ten years for Lotus to replace the original car with the Series 2 11R “Federal” Elise launched in the U.S. in 2005. A prime example is this red-over-black leather two-owner car originally listed on Craigslist in January 2021 in Jackson, New Jersey with an asking price of $32,500. Comparing this ask against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the second caretaker has their Elise priced between the #3 “Good” estimate of $28,400 and the #2 “Excellent” appraisal of $37,700.
Unlike previous Elise models, Series 2 Federal Elises came equipped with Toyota’s durable ZZ inline four-cylinder engine topped with a Yamaha-designed double overhead cam valvetrain featuring variable valve timing producing 189 horsepower. Connected to this engine was Toyota’s C64 six-speed manual. The lesson of the power-to-weight ratio is on full display with the Elise as these cars are capable of under five-second 0-60 times despite featuring less than two hundred horsepower.
The 2005 Lotus Elise was the first to be sold commercially in the United States, in the summer of 2004. Approval for the Elise, however, required intervention by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) which provided a three-year exemption for the car, as it had failed to meet US bumper and headlight regulations. The first-year model suffered from a few flaws, most notably a design flaw in the headlamps that magnified the sun’s light, allowing the inside of the lamp housings to be melted by the sun.
The YouTube Channel Everyday Driver offers a glimpse of what it’s like to own and use this vintage of Lotus Elise as a daily driver:
Despite featuring a virtually bullet-proof entry-level Camry powertrain, the Elise’s Achilles Heel is its bonded fiberglass front and rear clamshell sections that turn minor fender benders into major repairs. The second owner documents his experience below. While we love the fact this car has not been tracked, we’re not fans of the added Exige rear wing. If you don’t plan to purchase this example, you owe it to yourself to either drive or be a passenger in this vintage of Elise as it is a truly exhilarating experience. Good luck with the purchase!
Here’s the seller’s description:
“Up for sale is my 2005 Lotus Elise located in central NJ. I am the third owner. I purchased it 6/2009. It currently has about 68k miles on the clock, 40k of them are mine. A partial list of some of the features:
Black and red interior with Lotus Trim Shop seat, custom binnacle, and steering wheel
Black Lotus emblems front and back
Carbon fiber side scoops
Carbon fiber side mirrors
Boston Acoustics speakers w/Blaupunkt cd player
JL sub and 5-channel amp
APR Rear Wing
Carbon Front Splitter
V-force Harness Bar
Schroth 4 pt harnesses
Arqray SS Single tip exhaust
HID low beams
BOE clam hinge
In 2018, an F-150 backed into me and caused cosmetic damage to the windshield and clam. It was fully repaired and certified by the insurance company. While it was in pieces, I made some further front end upgrades (new all aluminum radiator and condenser, relocated and replaced resistor pack, incorporated led running lights and turn signals into the headlights).
This Lotus has been an absolute joy to drive. I have never tracked or auto crossed it (much to my sadness). It could use some minor cosmetic work, some of the clearcoat on the sides of the rear wing is a little rough and the front splitter is chipped from years of NJ roads, and one of the rims has a small chip in the finish. None of this will stop people from coming up and asking you all sorts of questions about it, which never gets boring!
I am only putting it up for sale because I don’t drive it as much as I used to (having a new home and a second daughter will do that). I still really love the car and will continue to tinker with it until someone decides to relieve me of it. I’ve never sold a car before so anything I missed or did not address, please ask and I will do my best to answer.”
Track Toy or Daily Driver: what would you do with this Elise? Comment below and let us know!