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The Elise is a very safe car to drive as some of the following incidents show. The aluminium chassis is very strong and has excellent side protection. The clamshells and the front and rear sub-frames are excellent at energy absorbtion. The integral roll bar is also very strong. If you've got a story to tell and any pictures to go with it then drop me a line. There are a few things to watch out for with the Elise:
  • Because it's a low car you cannot always assume that you've been seen in a drivers mirror. You must drive a bit more defensively (pretend you are on a motorbike, it's not that hard) with other cars around and use the cars excelleration to minimise the time exposed to danger (well that's my excuse anyway). A problem with being so low is that you can't see over roadside crash barriers. This often means you have to stop at roundabouts and junctions to check nothing is coming where other cars would continue having seen that there is no oncoming traffic.

  • Since it is a low car, you will not fair too well if you hit another vehicle with high ground clearance. I've heard of a number of accidents where the Elise has gone underneath the car that was hit, in once case this proved fatal for the driver.

  • The Elise is not particulary prone to cross winds because it is so low. On my local bridge (the Orwell bridge) you can hear the wind blowing over the bridge walls and over the top of the car but you can't feel it.

  • Another big factor in contributing to the cars safety is it's sheer stopping ability. It always amazes me how quickly the car stops when you brake hard. It's also hard to lock the wheels by accident because of the feedback from the car. But in slippery conditions you have no ABS to help you out.

  • One hazard I've found with the car is that the cant rail fixing lug, mounted to the roll bar, is too close to the passengers head and when I was unlucky enough to have an accident my passenger needed several stitches because of it.

Daniel Enticknap

Up hill left hander, hit a load of leaves on exiting the corner, the back end swung round very quickly managed to catch it to prevent a total spin, I kept my foot on the accelorator but the car got the better of me. The nearside front hit the bank at the side of the road, spun and hit a tree on the drivers side. I was knocked out and can only remember leaning back into the car to get my phone to make the dreaded Dad .... phone call. 7 hours in hospital 4 of which were spent in traction and the road was dry! The car ended up about 50 yards from the corner facing the right way on a straight piece of road. My passenger broke a rib and his left hand. I banged my head which was cut by glass and had a puncture wound in my right hand plus loads of bruising and swelling. Left wrist also bruised and swollen.

picture Copyright Daniel Enticknap
(1024 x 768 pixels, 174K)
picture Copyright Daniel Enticknap
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picture Note the buckled side rail under the coin holder.
Copyright Daniel Enticknap
(1024 x 768 pixels, 164K)

Steve Butts

I was driving on a straight road (at 50-60 mph - according to Police accident investigators) when a car coming from the other direction decided to turn right into a parking area on my left. Unfortunately, the driver started turning so late that I did not have a chance to stop and swerved onto the large gravel area to my left in order to avoid her. I lost the back-end of the car on the gravel and the car span 180 degrees onto the opposite side of the road from that which I was travelling. As I span around, the front of my car hit the back quarter of a Vento, removing its bumper. Shortly after that the back passenger wheel hit a fairly high kerb and took a lot of the impact before the car rolled twice and ended up on its 'roof'. The soft top was not actually on at the time. I actually managed to avoid hitting the car that caused the accident. It quickly reversed back to its side of the road and claims never to have moved! Luckily, I have two excellent witness reports saying she was the cause.

Luckily, the only injuries I sustained were bruising from the seat belt, a sprained shoulder and wrist (from bending the steering wheel !), and a severe head injury leaving a nice 3 inch scar on the back of my head. I feel I was very well protected. I did have to spend 7 weeks in hospital including 3 days in intensive care and 1 day on life support. My head injury got me a six month driving ban from the DVLA with a medical before I was allowed to drive again.

Lotus did fantastic job with the 'safety cell' design, the car able to take this sort of impact and leave the inside of the car intact. I was so impressed that I bought another, before I got my license back.

In retrospect, I should have tried to stop and hit her head on. I have seen the Discovery Channel program about the car's design, and remember it survived the 30mph crash test into a solid concrete block, such that it could have been driven afterwards.

picture Copyright Steve Butts
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picture Copyright Steve Butts
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picture Copyright Steve Butts
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picture Copyright Steve Butts
(588 x 397 pixels, 63K)
picture Copyright Steve Butts
(589 x 397 pixels, 64K)
picture Copyright Steve Butts
(591 x 397 pixels, 62K)

Tyron Barrett

It was a straight road, doing about 30mph and I noticed a car up in front parked in a layby (my side of the road) that was attempting to pull out. I've pulled wide (as has the rest of the traffic) to give him some room to see the flow of traffic and as I pass, he decides to pull out. My car is knocked sideways, and I struggle to control the car as it swings from one side of the road to the other, narrowly missing oncoming traffic.

The damage extends to the passenger door, sideskirt and rear clamshell, the rear nearside wheel will also need replacing. His car is almost certainly a write-off, having bent the front-end of his motor sideways and resulting in definite chassis damage. Amazingly, my car appears to have got away pretty lightly. This is proof that the Elise is indeed incredibly tough, and I also believe that the lightness of the car is of great benefit, since mine was literally shoved sideways, rather than staying put and crumpling under the other car's weight.

picture Copyright Tyron Barrett
(640 x 480 pixels, 157K)
picture Copyright Tyreon Barrett
(640 x 480 pixels, 143K)

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Copyright © Rob Collingridge 2009 - Last updated 11 Apr 2002