Touring Pack: 2005 Lotus Elise

“Simplify, then add lightness.” This was the design philosophy that Lotus founder, the late Colin Chapman, utilized with great success in both his racing and road cars. This philosophy lives on with the company he founded, and nowhere is it better embodied than in the Elise. This car features an engine with a modest level of power, but its low overall weight makes it a giant-killer in the right circumstances. This 2005 example is in excellent condition and has only covered 13,000 miles throughout its life. The owner admits that he doesn’t drive the vehicle enough to justify retaining it, so he has decided to list it for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Tucson, Arizona, and it can be your for $37,800. I have to say a huge thank you to Barn Finder Rex M for spotting the Lotus for us.

The Inca Silver Elise presents beautifully, with no signs of any problems or prior accident damage. The paint holds a great shine, and it shows no signs of succumbing to the ravages of the Arizona sun. Rust is not an issue that is worth considering with this car. The dry climate in which it has spent its life is one plus point. The fact that it features fiberglass panels draped over an aluminum chassis means that it is a car that is light, strong, and rust-resistant. The top appears to be in good order, and there are no signs of any deterioration with the plastic trim. The Lotus comes standard with 16″ alloy wheels on the front, with 17″ on the rear. These are free from any damage or staining and are wrapped in nearly new tires.

The Elise was designed to be a lightweight sports car, and in standard form, it doesn’t feature many luxury appointments. However, the original owner ordered this car with the Touring Pack. This brought leather seat upholstery and trim, power windows, carpet, and some additional sound deadening. These changes are enough to make the Elise a far more civilized car to live with as a daily driver. The interior of this Lotus is spotless, with no signs of any appreciable wear or staining. One of the more damage-prone areas of an Elise interior is the outer edges of the deeply-sculpted bucket seats. Scuffing and rubbing these areas is unavoidable when clambering in and out of the vehicle, but these seats have avoided those problems. Apart from the Touring Pack additions, the Elise features a driver’s airbag, along with a CD player.

When the Elise was initially designed, the engine of choice was the 1.8-liter Rover K Series. However, not only was that engine becoming pretty long in the tooth but getting it to meet toughening emissions regulations was going to prove to be an expensive undertaking that was beyond the financial capabilities of Lotus. After scouting around for a while, Lotus management landed on the door-step of Toyota. The two companies had enjoyed a prior relationship when Toyota held a 21% share in Lotus during the 1980s. Negotiations commenced, and Lotus struck a deal for Toyota to supply engines and transmissions for the updated Elise. What they settled on was the 1,796cc Toyota 2ZZ-GE 4-cylinder unit that was also featured in the Celica GT-S. The engine remained untouched internally but received upgrades to the intake and exhaust, along with a bespoke Lotus engine management system. The result is an engine that pumps out 190hp. The power finds its way to the road via the same 6-speed manual transmission featured in the GT-S. Now, 190hp doesn’t sound like a lot to play with, but the fact that the Elise tips the scales at 1,950lbs means that it can use it effectively. A ¼-mile ET of 13.4 seconds and a top speed of 141mph are not figures to be sneezed at. And the reality is that outright acceleration is not the Elise’s strong point. To understand an Elise, the driver needs to point it at a stretch of twisting road. The minuscule weight, fully-independent suspension, and the enormous brakes combine to have the car gripping tenaciously when the brain is saying that what is being experienced is impossible. One of the dangers with an Elise is that it is a car that, by its very nature, can be treated pretty harshly. This one has a known history and has also been meticulously maintained. With a genuine 13,000 miles showing on its odometer, it is a car that should have plenty of life left in it.

The Lotus Elise is a car designed using the Chapman philosophy, and in standard form, it is a track-day car intended to be driven on public roads. Living with a standard car on a daily basis can be a challenge because they are hard-core and quite basic. However, the Touring Pack fitted to this car is a game-changer and should make time behind the wheel a pleasant experience. It might not have the appeal to some people of a classic pony or muscle car, but if someone is looking for a classic British sports car that offers a pure driving experience with a degree of refinement and reliability, then this is a car that is worth a serious look.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Got to drive one of these on the Daytona road course while instructing the student/owner. Largest go kart I’ve ever driven and a bunch of fun. These are way over priced for a 2005 car.

    Like 3
  2. michael h streuly

    Could be alot of fun on Mulholland international raceway in the santa monica mountains.

    Like 0
  3. DanaPointJohn

    I did twenty-five laps at Laguna Seca in 2012 in a Lotus Elise. Absolutely fantastic, and I recommend it to anyone that wants to feel what cornering is really all about!

    Like 3
  4. Tom c

    This or a basket case 356 , hmmmm.

    Like 1
  5. Frank Sumatra

    “Simplify, then add lightness.”

    Then end up in a British court defending that design theory. Some felt he went too far in his quest for light weight.

    Like 0
  6. Victor Anderson

    I’ve had a 2005 Elise for about 4 years now — have put 50,000+ miles on it myself and the car has over 100,000 miles on it now and purrs like a kitten still. Few things in the article are not quite right — for one the cars go 155mph not 141mph (common knowledge and I know for sure they go 155mph cause I’ve had mine that fast). The stock transmissions, like mine, are C64. You can put a different 6th gear in it from a different Toyota transmission and get up to 175mph.
    For around $30,000 you can’t beat it. Plus the car will ALWAYS be worth $30,000 (if not more). Lot of bang for your buck here.

    Like 0

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