With apologies to members of Her Majesty’s Constabulary who may be reading this; ACAB. Or it might be ABBA. Or, perhaps, BACA. I’m not good with paperwork. The service schedule of my K series powered Elise was rather confusing and while a missed oil service might not kill an engine, an ancient cambelt might. With only 20k on the clock my car is getting serviced on time, not mileage. So I booked it in with PJS in Burton on Trent for everything it might need. Paul and Nick explained the new official service schedule for K series cars (sorry, still lost on me), kindly sorted me out with a courtesy car. We had a lengthy chat about all things Lotus including clutch changes on the Evora, Elan restoration and the Renault 21 gearbox. They have some wonderful cars in and some (mostly printable) stories that are too good not to share. I’ll cover that in a future issue of Absolute Lotus magazine, for now it’s about my Elise.

The A service covers oil and filter, brake fluid and other basics. On top of that I had the cambelt changed, last done 6 years and 6k miles ago. I was curious how it had held up. It came out still bearing it’s factory markings and with no visible wear – but better safe than sorry. Another precautionary upgrade was to move the thermostat. I’ve read about the K series’ well-documented shortcomings and while my car is fine on it’s original head gasket, moving the thermostat to allow a more even temperature flow to help mitigate the effects of thermal shock is a relatively simple job. It was great to see the car on the ramps, too, and reassuring to see everything clean and original. The geometry didn’t need doing but I might ask to see the numbers next time as I know the Elise is sensitive to this. The gearchange has always irked me. This car replaced a Mk1 MX-5 in my garage, a car with undoubtedly the finest gearchange of anything I have ever driven, and the Elise was never going to match it for snickety goodness. I’d read about short-shift upgrades but intend to keep this car as standard as possible. Nick explained that the bushes (Ford items) wear out and replaced them with poly-bushed upgrades, and removed and cleaned up the shaft and lubricated everything. What a difference!

The drive home took me cross-country from Burton to my home in Leicestershire. The sun shone for what felt like the first time in a year. Quite how Coalville ring road can feel like Route Napoléon is something that only an Elise can do to you. And then through the woods of Charnwood; potholed roads scarcely unsettling anything, gearchanges effortless, steering full of feel, the characteristic sound of the gearbox at your back and audible slurping of air as the now fresh engine got ragged the way the designers intended. Chances are you’ll already know that the Elise gives driving fun like nothing else at sensible speeds on everyday roads like these. I really, really didn’t want to put the car back in the garage when I got home but was already pushing my luck with local lockdown and had cheekily out-braked what looked like an unmarked Police car earlier on my mini road trip home. I didn’t want to risk any misunderstandings with the boys in blue if stopped and asked to show my paperwork…

(Written in January 2021)

PJS Lotus servicing and sales here – https://www.pjslotus.co.uk/

About The Author

Rich Duisberg

Rich's drivel regularly appears in Practical Performance Car and GT Porsche magazines. He has also written for Classic & Sportscar, MogMag, Classic Performance and Retro, Banzai, Evo, and Modern Mini. He also did a book no-one bought. His hungover fizzog also often appears on CBS’s Carfection channel enthusing about historic motoring. Le Mans winner Derek Bell once refused to get in Rich's Morgan Three Wheeler with him at the wheel. Currently amongst the detritus in his garage is a 1972 Fiat 500 Abarth, a fat BMW and a Lotus Elise. Previous machinery includes a Porsche 968, an Alfa GTV V6 and a dreadful Sinclair C5. He also owns a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike.

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