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My Owners Diary February 2000

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1st February 2000

My spotlight covers arrived this morning from NTC Cars. Will fit them in the next few days.

Lotus are about to launch an official Elise Sport 160. There will be only 150 made and it will cost under 30k. It features improved cyclinder head, new cams, and modified EMU. It also has cross drilled brakes, Speedline type wheels (5 spoke, 17" inch rears) and the race suspension. Cosmetic changes include a raised rear wing and new seats.

2nd February 2000

Super sunny lunchtime so I went out for a long drive through the Suffolk countryside. The odd corner was in shade and this left some damp on the road, causing a few interesting moments. The rear end felt a bit looser than usual but I put this down to the damp. Massive amounts of drift on my favourite roundabout, great fun. I've got to get the hardtop off this weekend. I'm also definately convinced that the brakes are not as responsive as they used to be. I remember that I could tell when the wheels were going to lock and now its much harder. I'm sure the pedal travel is greater and the brakes feel softer as well. Will get this checked at the first service due very soon. The car still stops very quickly but I'm sure it used to be better than this. The tyres may also be partly responsible for this though they aren't down to the tread wear indicators yet (about 1.5mm left).

5th February 2000

Got round to fitting my driving lights covers from NTC Cars. I was surprised at how easy and quick it was to fit them and they are virtually invisible. Having cleaned the lights each one took all of 5 seconds to fit.

The driving light covers in place
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A beautiful sunny day today and the temperature was up to about 10°C so I took the hard top off. Checked the tyre pressures and went out for drive, and what a drive it was. Unencumbered by the hardtop it felt like a differnet car. I'm sure the winter miles have helped in running the car in. Not only was it much quieter but the whole car just felt so much lighter and quicker. The car has more poise and everything feels more responsive including the steering and brakes. I'm not sure that the extra 11kg of the hardtop has a significant effect on the cars braking but combined the first really dry roads for ages and with some possible aerodynamic effects removed, the braking seemed better. I could sense when the wheels were thinking of locking again and it felt like the car I had last summer. I still don't see why anyone wants to change the sound of this car or make it louder. For the type of driving that I do, through winding country lanes, I'm not really sure I want it to go any quicker either. Roll on the summer.

9th February 2000

A cool but clear night so I took the Elise out (roofless). I'd under estimated how cold it really was (about 2-3°C) and even with the heating full on, I was freezing. The smell of burning rubber was my shoes sticking to the pedals. The driving light covers make no discernable difference to their light output. Lots of dry and empty roads and excellent visibility in the dark. This has got to be one of the best ways to experience the Elise, though another 10°C would be nice.

25th February 2000

Was up at Long Stratton Motors today and spotted a 340R waiting for its owner and the 1st of March. I know who the owner of this particular car is going to be and had a long look around it. This is the first time I've seen the production car and it's stunning. The concept has translated well into production and whatever you think of the radical styling this is one seriously well designed and one well put together car. The quality of finish is excellent and there are some real pointers of things to come in the next Elise. The ice blue instrument lighting and stack dials look excellent. The clever design of the rear wing mountings which double up to hold the roll bar, the kevlar finish seat material, the superb 4-point seat belts, there's so much attention to detail.

The interior looks slightly cramped compared to the Elise but this is due to the dash which comes further back into the cabin, the actual dash itself is an improvement over the Elise's in that it has a more useful shape, with a flat top and dished surface which could actually be used to store something (until the first roundabout!). The front screen has an integral heating element, something I'd love to see in the Elise, the actual screen being shorter than the Elises. I'm not sure why but there is a tiny triangular rear screen between the roll-over hoops. No doubt all will be come obvious the first time I get in one. There is also a small covered electrical socket just in front of the gear lever. Again, not sure why but probably for timing or telemetry gear.

If you thought the Elise gets lots of attention then check the 340R out. It's outrageous and brilliant, lets hope Lotus do something along these lines again in the near future. I wish they would let me design the next one!

26th February 2000

Another midnight drive up to Orford via the Tunstall and Rendelsham forest. This is one of my favourite routes, wide, empty, open road through heathland and forest, great road surface and lots of gentle curves and undulations. The driving lights picked out the red deer in the distance and that was all I saw in terms of local residents. Orford Quay was deserted and a cool wind was kept at bay by the heater alone, no fan required.

Night view
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Close encounters with an Elise at night.
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29th February 2000

Raining cats and dogs this morning so the soft-top went on in a hurry. Too much of a hurry in fact because I had a regular stream coming down the right screen rail. It's alright on the left handers but when drips cross in front of your face and land on the passenger seat it's a bit disconcerting. On the gentle right handers they land in your lap.

The Stratton Motor Company sent me a letter this morning enclosing free membership to OnTrackRemote site for the year. And my Subaru dealer has sent me a brochure full of accessories for my Impreza. Looks like it's going to be an expensive summer.

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