about to buy exige s1

hi all, i have posted a question up here before about owning an s1 in london and after weighing up the pros and cons have decided to go for it! the car i have in mind is a y reg 2001 with 12000 miles on the clock. it has the 190 upgrade, sports exhaust and racing seats with harnesses and in just the colour that ive been looking for! however i do have a couple of concerns. the owner did tell me straight away that he recently has replaced the engine as the original one went bang. apparently the fault of hr owen not refilling the oil during 1st major sevice which was done at just under 6000 miles. he drove 3500 miles after this service which is when the engine blew at approx 9500, (hope everyone is following) . so the good side is i could have an exige s1 with a brand new engine which has only done 2500 miles. the new engine was installed by bell & covill and ive been down there, with the owner while he took it for an oil change, and they have told me the new engine is under warranty till sept or fresh 12000 miles. a pre sale inspection was also carried out and all the boxes were ticked and having spoken to someone on bell & colvill’s sevice desk after this event he assured me the car was in good nik as the inpection was carried out by there best lotus expert (im assuming he has no reason to lie to me as he has nothing to gain).

so my concerns are;

is it a bad thing for the car to have a new engine ie for re sale or any other reason? (at first it sounds like a positive thing to me but buying a car where one engine has already gone bang does sometimes make me think twice.

are bell & colvill a good trusted garage to have installed the engine correctly?

is the story about hr owen believable, that they did not refill the oil causing the engine to blow. apparently the owner told me it had happened to other exige/elise owners using hr owen. also how often should the oil be checked?

the car has only had 1 major (A)service at 6000 miles before the engine blew. the car has been sitting dormant until the engine replacement in sept 2004. so milage wise its due a 2nd service now but time wise i suppose it should have had more stamps in the service book. is this a big problem? it passed an MOT in sept and has had new rear tyres fitted at the same time. what else should i check? assuming the engine should be perfect and is covered, brake pads and tyres are all good and pre sale inpection has done a series of road test checks, mechanical checks, fluid checks and electrical system checks which all passed.

appoligies if any of these questions sound stupid or the answers are obvious but i am new to this and would be very grateful for anyones knowledgable assistance. many thanks


Whilst buying any used car has risks, it seems to me that you’ve done everything reasonably possible to minimise them.

B&C are respected dealers (IDG always uses them). You’re getting a “Lotus warranted” engine - big bonus.As far as the oil is concerned, the engines can be quite thirsty (varies from engine to engine), but it is sensible to assume that 1 litre per thousand miles will be gobbled up. Therefore, regularly check the oil, & only use good stuff eg Castrol RS 0-40 or Mobil 1 Motorsport. Also, I would recommend oil/filter changes every 3000 miles not 6000. Service stamps - only worth something if services carried out by a recognised Lotus specialist (not necessiarily a Lotus dealer!!!) eg B&C.

Go for it, & enjoy

are bell & colvill a good trusted garage to have installed the engine correctly?


In my mind they are technically the best Lotus dealers in the South (possibly the world but I don’t have experience to comment ). They even tend to go slightly over the top sometimes (eg. MOTs, removing callipers when changing disks, etc). They are not cheap but that’s because they do things properly. That’s why my car goes there at least once a year for a check-up. I do however agree with Pesky, some of the non-Lotus sanctioned specialists are excellent, but they don’t have the same level of support and regular information flow from the factory.

Now (disclaimer time) like anywhere that is busy I am sure B&C make the odd mistake, and when they’re busy getting them to call you back has proved difficult in the past.

They have a dark blue S1 for sale at the moment, which looked good.



I believe my exige suffered a similar fate in the hands of HR Owen. The previous owner used them and I was told they did not refill the engine with oil following a service. The engine went bang and the car was sent back to Lotus at Hethel for an engine rebuild. The owner at the time did not pay for the rebuild.

I purchased the car 3-4 months after this. One of the main reasons I bought this car was I knew the engine should have been rebuilt correctly by Lotus (how wrong i was!! - anyway thats another story!! )

If the car your looking at has a new engine with a warranty till Sept i dont think you can loose. A lot of exiges will have had an engine rebuild or replacement engine by now anyway.

Get it serviced as soon as possible though



yeah thats the same colour as the one i want to buy, azure blue! wasnt sure about the cream leather interior on that one though, its just asking to get marked! i think it may have now sold as i saw it on a few web sites for a couple of days and now is gone. thanks for both your replies ian and mr pesky, you have helped put my mind at ease. hopefully could be picking the exige up this weekend. if anyone else has any advice i would be happy to hear it.

thanks scott, at least i now know the owners story about hr owen is could be true. he does seem very genuine and has been very helpful but u never know. im planning to get it serviced asap.

…only use good stuff eg Castrol RS 0-40 or Mobil 1 Motorsport.

Forgot to say. B&C use Shell Helix Ultra, so if you service it there you’ll probably want to get that to top it up. I’ve never had any complaints about the stuff and was satisifed when I did some research when I first discover it’s what they use.


First off, new engine = big result!!! These cars aren’t like others where it’s best to have the same engine as it’s “original”, sounds low milage so it’s sounds like a result

Sorry to digress a little but don’t you folks find 0w40 oil too thin? Burns away really quickly? Especially on track?

I’ve been using Castrol MS 10w60 (as per the book ) and don’t use much oil at all, think I used 1/2 litre from both Mallory and Brands

Another thumbs up for Bell & Colville except the price. My last service cost �1600 . However this included the 190 upgrade (not exhaust), A service, cambelt change, new brake master cylinder, fluid change, MOT and some little bits and pieces.

The brakes were fine when it went to B & C, then they phoned me up and said the cylinder needed replacing, because when they were MOTing it the pedal dropped to the floor - hhhmm. No probs before and I know they have a bit of a reputation for doing stuff that may not be nessecary but what do you do - especially when it comes to brakes?

Overall happy with their service though and they do seem to know their stuff, it just hurts the wallet.


Oops, I meant to say RS 10-60, in my original post - thanks for pointing it out

A thought on the new engine, it’ll probbably loosen up and feel better at around 10,000 miles.


hi everyone i am now the proud owner of an s1 exige. just driven it home and cant get the smile off my face. thanks again for all your help, very very grateful.

Congratulations and welcome I trust that you will now be joining us in the London convoy to Croft??


Great stuff


a bit of a late comer here… but welcome to exige ownership, you should try to come along to Croft with us… lots of exige talk and you can ask lots of q’s and we can take a look at your car which, to me anyway, sounds like a good choice. It could be hit or miss so its difficult to say without caveat but from what i hear you should be fine with B&C and provided the install has been done correctly and the engine timed properly etc… it sounds like you will have a stonking car.

like the others say… get it serviced asap tho and keep an eye on fluid levels.

happy motoring.