Are Exiges just a catalogue of disasters?

I don’t mean to be controversial, honest. But as a potential Exige owner in the next few weeks, I’ve been reading through all the past posts on the forum. What has struck me is the fact that there seems to have been more problems with Exiges than there were cars produced! Coming as a factory built Caterham owner and racer I was looking for a car that was usable more than 8 weeks a year, with at least some sort of reliability. Am I deluding myself? I know that cars that are driven hard require a bit more TLC and low volume builds are prone to quality issues.

What I’m saying is that if I do say 5k miles a year, with maybe 2 track days and a holiday ‘tour’ included will I spend every other week with the thing in bits looking for leaks, bit of head gasket, etc etc?

I’ve got my eye on a black std Exige in Fife or the yellow one in Bolton, both currently on Pistonheads. I’ve emailed the owner of the black one, but i’m waiting for a response. If anyone knows a bit of history of them, it would be well received, either here, or in confidence to [email protected]

Thanks for putting up with my ramble!



all you are seeing is the discussion where people need help… that’s human nature… but if you look closley enough you will see that most of us don’t have any real problems with our cars.

10k miles and about 12 track days a year for me and i still use my exige almost every day to go to work. I am happy to live with lack of practicality but then as a Cateram owner that’s not an issue for you.

If reliabiity is a real worry for you and you can’t be a bit philosophical then you probably won’t enjoy ownership - also the cars that are little used (eg 5k miles and 2 track days a year) are the ones that usually have most problems - cars like to be driven and leaving them in the garage is usually what brings many problems… If the black Car from Fife is the car i think it is… then its a good un…

I could maybe do a bit of checking around for you but i’d say if you do choose to go for an exige you will love it - just make sure it gets used and that shouldn’t really be a problem…

As Rox says, it’s human nature to keep quiet about the day to day stuff but talk loudly about things going wrong.

The K-series engine isn’t the best in the world, but nobody really complains about anything else… and the engine isn’t really a major problem either.

Ditto, both the above. My K series did 36K miles & 30 trackdays before I changed for a Honda powerplant.

No real issues - new alternator @ 21k miles, & a chaffed wire as it passed through bulkhead at about 30K miles. However, I took the precaution of having the engine “refreshed” @ 26K miles, & all it needed was a new clutch & piston rings.

Go for it

I love my Exige to bits… however… I have had many things go wrong with it. The money that has been spent is ridiculous so are the man hours. Much of the car just isn’t up to the job .

BUT - once you have replaced the poor Lotus parts with better quality after market items things do improve. If you want one I would advise you have a good look through this site and find the common upgrades people have done and make sure you buy a car thats already sorted.

Whatever you do, don’t let the relibility put you off because the cars are absolutely fantastic. Down a country lane there is nothing to touch them .

As the others have said never had too many issues with my car. I bought it with 28k on the clock (all road), it now has approx 40k miles mostly track and in my ownership has had an alternator go and that’s it really as far as failures are concerned. I had the tappets done at 30k miles and at the time it needed new exhaust valves, I have spent a lot on bits and pieces (Nitrons, Nylatrons, brakes etc) as upgrades.

Soggster, any car as good value (by its performance standards) as the Exige, and driven as hard our ours is going to have the odd problem. It started life as a race car (the Motorsport Elise) after all.

The great thing is many many owners come here to help each other, which seems to save a lot of time, money and heart ache.

Long may it continue!


Hi Soggster - they have their weaknesses as you will have seen from the forum posts. In my experience a lot of the blame for 2nd hand cars being bad is simply the lack of maintenance. Drive hard-mantain hard. Exige owners dont usually do things on a budget as the car is probably as important as a member of the family and treated as such. I own two Lotus cars and had an elise b4 the Exige. The appeal to me is that you have to be a mad enthusiast and/or have enough cash to get a good garage to maintain it. The attraction of the marque and model (S1 Exige - oh dear thats going to cost me ) to me is the exclusivity. This means being one of those perverted loonies who fully understands what ownership means and how it prevents BMW M4 drivers from buying one - only joking (I’m not really) but you know what I mean.
AND - what on earth can you buy for under �20k with the pedigree, handling, performance and outright looks of an Exige (In Orange - thats the best colour )

Go on …Buy One…you will never regret it…
BUT you must be a real petrol head and I guess you are after owning a Caterfield…
Wonderful bunch of owners Just all NUTs according to @er indoors.
Join us …you’ll love it.

Yep, they’re excellent!

I had a lot of troubles to start with but then I got mine cheap and knew it’d need some work… Probably a bit more than expected!

Plus that and I have gammy hands that seem to make a complete arse of every job I undertake