Talk me out of an S1 (maintenance)

Hi all,

I’m in the fortunate position of being able to afford an S1, and it’s been a bit of a dream car for me since it came out. My cousin had one back around 2004 so I’m familiar with what they’re like to drive/cook in, and practicality-wise it’ll be a step up from the car it’ll replace (a road-converted Ginetta race car with no roof, straight cut gearbox and the strong smell of fuel from the carbs and side-exit exhausts).

My question is: what’s it like to maintain an S1 (cost and effort wise)? Do Lotus specialists still maintain them? Is there any maintenance you have to do yourself? What do you do in the way of preventative maintenance for the VHPD?

I’m 10 minutes from ES Motorsport and Stratton Motor Company in Norfolk, and 20 minutes from Burton Power, though haven’t yet contacted them to ask what services they’re able to provide for the S1.


@Joel I’ve dropped you a DM as I live in norfolkshire :+1:

I’ve had my S1 for over 10 years. It’s basically an Elise and parts and maintenance are easy enough. I used to do it all myself but these days the famous Gavin in Burton on Trent looks after it for me.

The VHPD is the only thing that can be tricky. If the head goes and cannot be recovered they are impossible to replace. Your only real option is a VVC head which, with a bit of work, is just as good or better than the VHPD. Passing the mot emissions can be tricky, you need someone who can nurse it through. Mine has ranged from sailing through to failing. Many people switch from a stock ecu to an Emerald for better running and ease of passing the mot. That did not work well for me and my car is a pussy car on the std ecu.

The only real sweat is the engine and the worst that can happen is a modified vvc head is a replacement.

They are great fun on track but slow compared to a v6 or supercharged s2. Docile in the dry but can bite in the wet.

Agreed all round. A fair number of specialists around but I rely and trust Ollie at Phoenix Motorsport in Accrington, Lancs.
Stick with the VHPD, they are characterful, sound amazing and can’t be beaten

I have had one since 2008 and have done 33k in that time. I average 32mpg and spent 11k over that time on everything but fuel. I service her myself every year. Parts are cheap and maintenance easy (maybe not the front pulley bolt but with the right tools its not too bad).

Its a love / hate relationship. Too hot and noisy but there is NO other car that gets close or I love as much (baby Elan Sprint gets close).

Do it. There has not been a day when I regret it.

1 Like