308 vs. Elise

Discussion in '308/328' started by gtbman, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. gtbman

    gtbman Karting

    Sep 28, 2009
    Very torn here. Looks like you can pick up a nice 2005 elise for about $30k, not a 30 year old 308 which will require continuous upkeep. The Elise will be newer with better performance but the 308 is such a classic.

    thoughts ?
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  3. ZiFF

    ZiFF Formula Junior

    Mar 30, 2009
    The elise is a fun, but very small car.

    Kind of a matter of personal preference.

    One thing, though, while their prices may intersect today, the elise will eventually be a $12K car while the 308 will be a $50K car.
  4. Lawrence Coppari

    Lawrence Coppari Formula 3

    Apr 29, 2002
    Kingsport, TN
    Full Name:
    Lawrence A. Coppari
    While at BMW's Octoberfest at Road Atlanta a couple of weeks ago I had a student that had an Elise with a supercharger on it. Nice track car until he told me that a set of rotors and pads for the front wheels costs $2K at the dealer. He said that the size is unique to the Lotus so nothing else will fit.

    The vehicle also developed transmission problems at the track. Lotus has issues with its transmissions so his mechanic told him during a phone call. Car did not want to go into 3rd gear on a downshift.

    I'm not sure the car is suitable for everyday street use.
  5. Michael Call

    Michael Call Formula Junior

    Mar 6, 2008
    S.L.C. Utah
    Full Name:
    Michael D. Call
  6. gtbman

    gtbman Karting

    Sep 28, 2009
    point well taken, i guess when properly and wisely purchased, the 308 is an investment
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  8. enjoythemusic

    enjoythemusic F1 World Champ

    Apr 20, 2002
    Full Name:
    Just remember everyone to put TOTAL cost of ownership when running the numbers. Initial purchase price in not the 'final' cost upon sale of vehicle.
  9. Brian Elliston

    Brian Elliston F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 9, 2009
    Clermont, FL
    Full Name:
    Brian Elliston
    I am in the market for a 35K sports car. I have overwhelming decided on the 308!!! That being said, I considered the Elise as an alternative in the same price range with better performance, reliability?????, also cool styling (not over the top prettiest car of all time), and probably a nice visceral experience. I have never driven an Elise so let me share my other experiences. I've gone 100 mph (on a closed course with aprofessional driver, do not try at home:) in a 2003 Porsche 996, a 2005 Mercedes AMG, a 2008 Porsche Cayman S, and maybe even my Dodge pickup truck. The result???? I felt like I should probably slow down. I've also gone 100 mph in a 1984 Ferrari 308 Quattrovalvole. Result?????? It changed my life!!!!!!!!! That's just me though, do what's best for you. Oh yeah, what they all said about resale.
  10. Nurburgringer

    Nurburgringer F1 World Champ

    Jan 3, 2009
    #8 Nurburgringer, Oct 14, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Good question. I've been mulling this over recently also.

    I bought an '85 308GTS earlier this year. Since then and have put a bit over 2000 road-miles on her, and ~12 laps of Road America.

    While living in Germany I also drove ~100 laps of the Nurburgring in an Opel Speedster, which included roundtrip drives of about 700kms each way.,+Germany&daddr=Adenau+Germany&hl=en&gl=us&mra=ls&sll=50.79197,10.95294&sspn=5.251236,9.854736&ie=UTF8&ll=50.805935,10.942383&spn=5.249678,9.854736&z=7

    The Speedster is basically identical to an Elise except for a torquier (Ecotec) motor and different body shape. Have only driven an Elise briefly (2 laps of the Ring, short time on nice roads).

    A Speedster/Elise is simply sublime on a race course. Phenomenal balance, nimbleness, grip, control feel etc. Heavenly.
    I don't have as much experience driving an Elise on the road, they're likely a bit harsher than the surprisingly subtle-riding Speedster (would complete the 6 hour drive to Ring, stopping only for gas, and proceed directly on the track for a few laps prior to checking in my hotel), but maybe your roads are smooth enough to enjoy it on a semi-every day basis.

    My 308 with QA1 shocks/300lb springs has a very liveable ride on Milwaukee's super-sucky roads, yet on the track is still bags of fun. I wouldn't push it as hard over ~80mph as a modern sports car without installing a roll-cage and harness first though.
    The 308 is rather crudely engineered, not especially well built, relatively heavy, not fast at all by modern standards (but it's still great fun below ~80mph on relatively skinny tires), drinks gas like crazy, will leak various fluids all over unless you completely rebuilts all systems, and will certainly break down/not function at random times, but it's a thrill to own and absolutely GREAT to drive. Especially at 7000rpms in a tunnel or through a sparsely-populated downtown like Milwaukee at 8AM on a weekend morning.

    Yet, if the Elise had a more exotic mill (small V6 or tiny V8 maybe), or was cheaper (gently used Speedsters are ~15,000 Euros in Europe, while Elises still start around $30k here) I probably would have one instead of a 308.

    But as it is the "Ferrari-ness" and adequate (perceived) performance of the 308 beats out the higher limits and thoroughly more modern Elise.

    Let us know what you decide.
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  11. Dino944

    Dino944 Formula 3

    Aug 11, 2007
    Rhode Island
    Full Name:
    Funny thing is I got to drive a base model Elise a few weeks ago.

    The 3X8 and Elise are very different cars, but both are fun. One is a sports car the other is really a track car you can drive on the street. Although the 3X8 interior is hardly modern everything is covered in leather looks fantastic. Its a wonderful place to spend a few hours and the exterior is a masterpiece. Then there is the jewel of an engine, not quick by todays standards but everything works in concernt beautifully making it a lot of fun. Rowing through that gated shifter on winding roads is a real joy. The sound of that engine as in its upper RPM range is hard to compare to anything other than...maybe another Ferrari.

    The Elise is about as raw as a road car can be. Very little sound proofing, not much of an interior, the driver's seat adjusts only forward or backwards, and the passenger seat is not adjustable at all. Getting in and out of the Elise is like practice to be a contortionist for the circus. To be honest, on paper I thought the Elise isn't too impressive, Toyota 1.8 liter engine with 189 hp and 133lb/ft of torque for the base model, and it makes those numbers at really high RPMs. The bodywork isn't really beautiful, at best I think its looks are different.

    But I had to admit the Elise is a tremendously fun car to drive. Once you are behind the wheel for a few miles you really start to enjoy it. While the engine lack the pedigree of a Ferrari engine, you start to appreciate that Lotus has been and still is all about lightweight, agile cars that handle exceptionally well. The base model Elise makes a base model Boxster feel boring and overweight.

    The Elise has virtually no trunk space (a 3X8 trunk seems gigantic next to the Elise storage area), so its probably not a weekend getaway car. Its got squeeks and rattles as there is no sound proofing to absorb any noise, and its so stiffly sprung you can probably feel an ant in the road if you squish one with a tire. Still its fun if you can get past its quirks.

    If you haven't driven an Elise you really need to drive one to see if its something that is fun for one day, or if its something you would want long term. Also, depending on where you live, you might be able to drive a 3X8 pretty regularly. With the Elise, you absolutely have to have another car to use 99% of the week.

    I do like the Elise and its something I'd consider adding to my humble group of cars, but its not something I'd ever trade my 328 for. Just my 2 cents.

    Best regards,
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  13. anunakki

    anunakki Five Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Oct 8, 2005
    Las Vegas Nevada
    Full Name:
    I cant understand comparing these two cars. Might as well throw a Prius into the mix...
  14. Tony K

    Tony K Formula 3

    Jun 7, 2006
    Toledo, Ohio
    Full Name:
    Tony K.
    A 308 and an Elise are two VERY VERY VERY different cars.

    If you can't decide between the two, then you don't know what you want. Unless you just want a car to pose in. :D They're so different that it's not even worth comparing them or naming the differences.

    Lawrence -- I think the student got hosed by the dealer (not surprising) and was just passing the story along. There is an aftermarket for the Elise . . . besides, what would a Ferrari dealer charge to change the front brakes on a 308? . . . . I'll bet it's closer to $2000 than it is to what Midas charges for a Buick . . .

    From the time I've spent on EliseTalk . . now called LotusTalk, my first impression with the transaxle comment is that such an issue is an exception, not the norm, with those cars. Perhaps a result of the way the student was driving . . . Either way, I'd recommend to anyone interested in an Elise to gather their information from an Elise forum, not a Ferrari 308 forum! :D

    Regarding price, I agree 100% with the comment above -- even the values posted (consider what M100 Elans go for today). But one must also consider the cost of maintaining a 4-cylinder, Toyota-drivetrained Elise vs. maintaining a V8 Ferrari running in the years in between. (and proprietary Lotus parts tend to be less expensive than proprietary Ferrari parts . . .)

    But in the end, all of this is irrelevant. Comparing the Elise to the 308 is completely apples to oranges.
  15. Tony K

    Tony K Formula 3

    Jun 7, 2006
    Toledo, Ohio
    Full Name:
    Tony K.
    WOW -- Lots of replies in a short time! The SIX posts above mine were not there when I started typing . . . :D
  16. Nurburgringer

    Nurburgringer F1 World Champ

    Jan 3, 2009
    #13 Nurburgringer, Oct 14, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
    Sure, as long as you ignore that both the 308 and Elise have:
    Two seats, limited luggage space, mid-engine balance, targa tops (so trackable, unlike stock Boxsters, Z4s, S2000 etc), similar purchase price, very similar power-weight ratio, attractive exteriors, similar interior volume (I'm 6' 200lbs, my hair brushes the top in both, with adequate leg and body space), are entertaining at semi-legal speeds i.e. have limits that can be sanely approached on the road.
    The bottom line is that both are about balance, not huge power.

    The 308 has more leather and sound deadening, and will cost you much more if the engine goes boom (which they don't tend to do thank god). Big whoop.

    Thank you Captain Obvious ;)
    He wants what we all want. The best car for our hard-earned money :)
  17. Traveler

    Traveler Rookie

    Sep 30, 2009
    I have an 87 Mondial 3.2 and have driven an Elise.

    Most comments above are right on. I had the money and chose the Ferrari. I'll pick up an Elise when they get into the teens $$. The economy and age of the Ferraris we're talking about here put them at a very affordable level. Don't forget to do a lot more research here about the potential costs of Ferrari ownership. When I add an Elise I think the Ferrari will still get driven more. I think of the Elise as more of a toy.
    If this is a primary car and you don't have a lot of disposable income I'd wait a bit. All the Ferrari owners I know have a commute car that is more practicle (and disposable) for daily use.
    Drive them both and you'll know what you want. I love the Elise because it tries to be true to Chapman's vision.
  18. 1969 Mangusta

    1969 Mangusta Formula Junior

    Sep 15, 2007
    Full Name:
    As a big fan of Lotus cars (Esprit) I would have to say get the Ferrari. Sounds contradictory right?? Seriously speaking it's already been said. The Elise is going to go no where where any Ferrari especially the 3X8 models are due for some decent appreciation when time comes. They will forever be timeless and reminiscent of better times where the Elise, however competent will forever decline and fall into obscurity. Personally I don't even find them attractive, to me they look like insects. Do you really want a Toyota powered car as your pride and joy???
  19. 308tr6

    308tr6 Formula Junior

    Dec 23, 2003
    Full Name:
    #16 308tr6, Oct 14, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I like insects....
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  20. flyngti

    flyngti Formula 3

    Jul 16, 2009
    Snohomish, WA
    Full Name:
    Eric L
    I remember when the Elise first came out and you almost never saw on the road or one for sale. Now it seems like I see them all the time. Right now, Park Place in Bellevue has a dozen Elises for sale and only 2 3x8s (308 and 348). What does that say about desirability?
  21. 308tr6

    308tr6 Formula Junior

    Dec 23, 2003
    Full Name:
    So why doesn't desireability equate in to saleability, and price for the 308s?
  22. Bullfighter

    Bullfighter Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Jan 26, 2005
    Fullerton, California
    Full Name:

    Agree with this agreement.

    I think you have to decide whether you want a classic car or a modern one.

    For daily driving, much as I love the 308 and 328, I think the Cayman is a better move. Once you have a modern daily driver, then you can indulge your retro fantasies.

    Classic cars have their own set of rewards and issues. Would you compare a Jag E-Type coupe with a BMW 335i? Pricewise, they overlap.
  23. Dino944

    Dino944 Formula 3

    Aug 11, 2007
    Rhode Island
    Full Name:
    In terms of looks, the Esprits are far better looking than the Elise. But Esprits were plagued with problems throughout much of their production.

    I would also ask if you have ever driven an Elise? I find them odd looking, I can understand feeling a bit dissappointed that an Elise uses a Toyota power plant rather than something proprietary, and as for resale who knows. How much 3X8s will appreciate and how long it will take, only time will tell. But you also have to factor in all of the major services that a 3X8 will incur over any gain in value may be somewhat reduced.

    In the end you really have to get behind the wheel of an Elise to understand, appreciate, or hate one. It may not be the right car for you, but if spend some time behind the wheel and then look at its dollar to fun ratio for a relatively new car, its tough to beat.

    If you have already driven one and don't like it, thats one thing. But right now your statements sound a lot like what a friend of mine said last week, until he actually drove an Elise. Now he might buy one!

    Best regards,
  24. David Lind

    David Lind Formula 3

    Nov 19, 2008
    Full Name:
    David Lind
    I have put 58,000 miles on my Mondial 3.2 and have driven an Elise -very spiritedly -several times. So, here's my 1/2 cent:

    The above comments are pretty spot on, and you should drive both before you get a favorite. My thoughts:

    Ferrari: well built, sounds great, handles and goes well, expensive to maintain, probably at its most affordable RIGHT NOW. And, of course, it's a friggin' Ferrari with all the heritage and cache' that connotes.

    Lotus: reasonably well built (but like a well built ultra light), cheaper to maintain, will certainly depreciate, ... BUT if your dream is to have a Formula Atlantic car or a Camel Lights IMSA car on the street, there is no other choice under $125,000. The Lotus talks to you like nothing else I have ever driven on the road, not even my Twin Cam Europa. It will make every synapse crackle even when doing something as mundane as running to the 7 Eleven.
  25. hardtop

    hardtop F1 World Champ

    Jan 31, 2002
    Full Name:
    OK gang. I've had 3 308's and 1 Elise when they first came out. For everyday driving, the Elise makes 308's seem downright practical. My Elise had the sport package and I would call it a great 20 minute car. Love the steering, the nimbleness, etc. but at about 20 minutes, my ears would ring, my back would ache and my teeth would rattle. It was time to go home. I tracked it once and it was fun, but not much grunt. I didn't think it was as fast it should be considering they come shod with very sticky Yokohamas. The newer ones with super chargers I'm sure are better. They are very raw cars. Although an Elise can run circles around a 308, I enjoyed 308's more as road cars. There is the flare, the balance and, of course, a great motor that just wants to rev and sing even if underpowered. And I could drive one for hours and not be tired or bored. I think the Elise is a bad deal compared to other performance cars. For instance, I bought an '07 Cayman S earlier this year with 5500 miles for 39,500. If I put sticky tires on it, it would be close to the Elise in handling and has significantly more power plus makes a very comfy and practical daily driver. Maybe I'm getting old but that is my opinion. However, I'll be watching the prices on Exige SC's and when they get low enough, would consider one as a track day weapon only.

  26. MS250

    MS250 Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Dec 10, 2003
    Full Name:
    here is your first mistake...your comparing 30K dollars.....ROLMAO !!

    A real good 308 will eclipse that part...hence your not getting a ferrari, but a very USED 308 for 30 grand.

    Heres one for you.....i can buy a slightly new used Jag "r" with 400hp for the same money as your lotus and blow the doors off the elise....we can make this comparison ALL DAY !!

    Buy what you love....the rest doesnt matter !
  27. hyenahf

    hyenahf F1 Rookie

    May 25, 2004
    308 = gold chain poser car

    elise = trackday weapon

    luv em both...
  28. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Three Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 4, 2001
    Birmingham, AL
    Full Name:
    #25 Dr Tommy Cosgrove, Oct 14, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
    No one has bought a 308 for performance since 1985. You buy a 308 because you wanted one since you were 13 like me.

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