Hi Everyone, time for a new thread. In many ways this will be a logical continuation of my Exige thread posted here: https://www.exiges.com/viewtopic.php?t=21019
Small bit of backstory for anybody unaware, but I’ve owned/modified and tracked a 2006 Lotus Exige for the past few years. Learned some lessons, ignored others - but had a blast along the way. I feel like I hit a bit of a modification ceiling with it after running into gearbox reliability issues despite spending the cash on all of the right parts to prevent it. As such, the only logical thing to do was to buy another car with the exact same engine and gearbox and start over again…
I’ll probably reference “the Exige” throughout this thread but I’ll try to give context where appropriate.
On the day my gearbox failed, there was a Lotus 2-Eleven in attendance. I’ve always admired them from afar, never showing enough interest to learn much about them but they’ve always been a “I wish I could justify one of those” cars.
I should have taken a closer look at it, and I regretted not asking for a ride in it but I was busy sulking.
In the days and weeks that followed, the Exige got fixed and did a rather successful trackday at Croft but my mind was already wandering. I looked at newer V6 Exiges, considered buying an older rover engine car and embarking on a Honda built and considered sticking an order in at Caterham… but the 2-Eleven persisted.
New thread rule, it’s now called a 211. I don’t have all day to keep typing out 2-Eleven. The 211 on the face of it is an Elise/Exige without a roof or glass, but as usual with Lotus when you dig into it some more subtle differences shine through.
They did both an NA (192bhp) and SC (255, later upgraded to 260) model and I would be looking for a 260 one. Considering I ran my Exige at 300bhp for the last few months, it would be a bit of a power downgrade, but in exchange for saving approx. 200kg. That would put power to weight ratio in excess of my Exige, but with an aero penalty at higher speeds and better performance on the brakes.
The geometry is subtly different allowing it to run much lower than an Exige/Elise, and by all accounts it has a bit of ‘real’ aero, even more so with the GT4 upgrades that the Cadwell car had. The cars also came with some goodies, namely an Accusump and 2-way Ohlins dampers. Better oil surge protection and 2-way dampers were both on my roadmap for the Exige.
They don’t come up for sale too often, but I kept half an eye out. I’m not a huge lover of the launch livery cars, I’m a paint not sticker sort of guy so when this one came up, it got me very interested.
It is a launch car, at #50 I believe it makes it the last launch car that they did. I’ve not fully geeked out on the launch vs non-launch versions yet but I’m already learning that every car seems to have a different combination of parts-bin bits on it.
I’m a stickler for not engaging with a car seller until I’ve pretty much already decided to buy it, but after a few days of weighing things up I engaged with the seller, let’s call him G.
G was exactly what I’ve come to expect from a private Lotus seller over the years, willing to talk about the car properly, stopped at nothing to share photos, videos, answered any questions and left nothing to chance. G was probably over-honest with the cars’ issues, typically the aesthetic ones which looked much less dramatic in the flesh. More on that later.
A week or two passed, the odd conversation here and there but I was deep into thought and I was a bit distracted by getting the Exige ready for Croft.
Croft was a great day for closure, the car felt great and needed no post-trackday fettling, it just worked. I had the opportunity to drive a V6 car while I was there, and though it was fantastic - it made my mind up, I had to tick the “lightweight” box before I moved on and up.
After making my mind up, the next challenge was to be logistics. G was way up in Scotland, proper Scotland too. Closer to the North Pole than home.
I looked into some covered car transport companies and had a couple that gave me confidence that they could cater for the rideheight and stuff like that. Price wasn’t bad, considering - but I had this little mental gremlin telling me it would be a good idea to go get it and drive it back… so we lined up a decent weather forecast and I went for it.
G would not take a penny up front, but he offered first refusal and even took the 211 sale ad down until I came to view it. Top bloke.
Train was to be Friday night after work, nice 5 hour ride up with no changes for £70. Nice! Obviously I had to make it dramatic, I’d double booked myself to take the missus and some colleagues into York for a night out, and they couldn’t leave later than 5pm due to finishing work etc. That gave me 56mins to drive into York, park (on a driveway a mile from the station) and then run (sprint!) to the station in time for the train. I made it by minutes, utterly knackered, sweaty, coughing my collapsed lung up. Right mess. Poor lass I was sat next to must have been gutted.
Saw some pretty sights on the way up, and ate an onion bhaji in a naan bread.
I arrived just before midnight, hotel right across the road. Had dinner and then slept.
Obviously after the drama and close call of the day before, I slept in and missed my train. The sleep in wasn’t fatal, but standing at the wrong platform as my train left was.
Luckily the small commuter train out to G’s town was regular, so I had a quick coffee and started mentally preparing for what was to come.
After a short 20min hop, I met G at the station and off we went to see the car.
The car was exactly as described, so the rest was a formality. There were a couple of ‘issues’ with the car which we had discussed up front, but G was very descriptive so there were no nasty surprises.
The first up is a bodywork issue, this particular car was resprayed to Lotus Solar Yellow some years ago (Prior to G) and it is a fantastic paint job but the rear clam had developed some small cracks coming from the apertures where the spoiler uprights come out of. At a later date, the car had been reversed into a solid object and the following repair involved a replacement rear clam/transom which was again painted in solar yellow. Some months later, the cracks returned…
Whether it’s a fitment issue, something misaligned on the spoiler uprights or maybe it’s just a “211 thing”, the body clams are particularly thin and lightweight, so maybe it’s just something to live with. They’re very small cracks and if they don’t grow, I’ll be in no rush to resolve. There’s similar again in the front clam in a couple of spots, but again from 4 feet away you’d never really know. They looked FAR worse in the photos.
The next issue was the gear shift (I know I know, gearboxes are boring now). It is just so vague and wobbly, it’s a million miles away from my Exige. I had done some forum trawling and found some posts from an ex-ex owner who had even invested in a LETSLA adjustable linkage (gearbox end) to try and remedy. I considered one of these for my Exige because of the bling factor, so at least I get one to play with now. It’s clear that the shift had never been great, and past owners had tolerated it. It needs fixing.
Aside from that, there really wasn’t anything to complain about. The aero screen has some weird UV damage in it, but G provided a brand new still in packaging replacement. The car also came with a spare set of 2-way Ohlins. Removed from the car when due a refurb and replaced with brand new ones.
I checked over a couple of things, the operation of the Accusump being one and I wasn’t convinced it was working properly but to be honest, neither of us knew what we were looking at. More on that later.
The car had a couple of modifications, some known to G and some not. Some nice boxes ticked though and less for me to do later:
- LETSLA linkage
- Alloy triple pass radiator
- Engine Mount inserts (stiffer, had on my Exige - very good)
- Removable steering wheel boss w/ Momo flat bottomed wheel
- Pretty much PPF’d everywhere of importance. Paint is absolutely gorgeous as a result (aside from the aforementioned cracks)
- Brooklands aero screen added to the Lotus one
- Spitfire toelinks
- Lotus ‘race’ exhaust backbox
Service history is comprehensive as you’d expect. Looked after by main dealers in general throughout its life.
Short test drive was a formality, I didn’t kick its head in until after I bought it.
With the deal done, we packed up the spares and my luggage the best we could (no boot!) and I was gone.
Thanks again G, pleasure dealing with you.