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I have recently become enamoured with the 550. I desire one. However, my current situation would require me to sell my beloved 308 to obtain one. I'd be getting rid of a car I dreamed of owning when I was a kid, a car that is cheap to own and maintain and trading it in for one that is much more maintenance intensive, more expensive to insure and register and gets terrible fuel mileage.

So I got looking and I found that I could pick up a brand new supercharged Lotus Elise for a price that would allow me to keep my 308. It would have all the benefits of a new car (no previous owners), offer super acceleration and handling and get great gas mileage to boot.

So I guess I am asking, given the choice, would you rather have a 10-year-old Ferrari 550 parked in the driveway or a 30-year-old Ferrari 308 and a brand new Lotus Elise? All comments welcome.
 

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I have recently become enamoured with the 550. I desire one. However, my current situation would require me to sell my beloved 308 to obtain one. I'd be getting rid of a car I dreamed of owning when I was a kid, a car that is cheap to own and maintain and trading it in for one that is much more maintenance intensive, more expensive to insure and register and gets terrible fuel mileage.

So I got looking and I found that I could pick up a brand new supercharged Lotus Elise for a price that would allow me to keep my 308. It would have all the benefits of a new car (no previous owners), offer super acceleration and handling and get great gas mileage to boot.

So I guess I am asking, given the choice, would you rather have a 10-year-old Ferrari 550 parked in the driveway or a 30-year-old Ferrari 308 and a brand new Lotus Elise? All comments welcome.
Pete, Having driven the Lotus Elise, my advice would be to wait, save, keep the 308, and then add the 550 when you can afford it. Of all the cars I have driven, I have never felt more unsafe then in the Elise on the highway.
 

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Pete, I agree with Boxer.

I have only driven the Elise on the race track, and you can make it dance on a sixpence. But when I pulled off the track and parked beside my Range Rover Vogue, all I was looking at was my tires. It felt like the Range Rover was a Monster Truck.

Great track car (Elise or Exige), but save until you can afford the 550 (or a 612 if you get the chance).
 

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Thanks for the tips guys. I'm glad I asked this here.
 

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I am not so sure about the maintenance costs being particularly high on the 550.

You would be advised to change the cam belts every 3 years or whatever mileage they recommend on the maintenance schedule. But it's not mandatory unless you're under guarantee, and it's not tremendously expensive either. It's obviously more expensive than doing nothing, but you don't have remove the engine. But maybe you can give it more slack and extend the intervals. I would assume Ferrari is playing it safe with the limiters they impose on users.

Also, the belts' durability is arguable. I know of a DOHC racing engine with flexible cam belts that had been used twice on short hillclimb events after overhaul, probably totaled 1 hour of race use on sprint runs, and pursuant to an accident, sat in a dry and de-humidified garage for approximately 13 to 14 years without even being cranked. You could expect bad news in terms of valve springs and cam belts, what would you have thought?

So although it was pretty clean on the outside, following that long period, it was stuck. To start using it again, we didn't open it, rather merely cleaned it, and poured thin oil into the spark plug holes allowing it to sit there for a couple of weeks.

We then managed to get it to crank. Then it was used in intensive sprint racing, sometimes under high outside air temperatures. Used in 5 events, totaling about 5 hours sprint use (15 to 20 minutes per heat / session). After all this usage, the only problem ever experienced was related to a crankshaft thrust washer. Nothing to say about the belts. And this engine revs up to 9.000 Rpm.

So I'm not sure you have to be too rigid about the Ferrari maintenance program. But I have been following it in my car because it doesn't bother me right now, but if it did, I don't think I'd stick to it.
 

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The Elise is a nice looking car and drives OK (I haven't driven a super charged version), but it is not a 308. It might be faster, newer etc, etc but there is no comparison in my book.

You know how the F-car makes you heart beat a little faster everytime you see it, experience it, smell it. The Elise would probably also do that, for a while, and then you would be looking at the newer models and thinking what's next? Its a bit like when I look at a new Corvette or a 997 or an SL55 AMG or 'Stang GT500, I think hmmm thats nice, should I? but in my heart of hearts I know its a phase, call it 'bimbo-hopping' - its fun, but you know it isn't THE one - now I am sidetracking...but you get my drift.

What is it Bart says? 12 Cylinders or Walk!

or to put it another way '8 Cylinders and take the truck every now and then!'
 

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I am not so sure about the maintenance costs being particularly high on the 550.
As an aside, I have to say the maintenance on the 550 also scares me a little, but not so much the routine maintenance like servicing and belts. Belts are no big deal, practically every car has them and the routine is well versed. I have to say at this juncture, a person who is very close to me always says "why don't Ferrari use chains, it makes more sense, MERCEDES use chains!" I can never win that argument (I never want to, to be honest! but answers on a postcard!).

What scares me are the things I cannot predict - the big things, like a problem gearbox or a head gasket issue, that kind of stuff. It is interesting to note that these as issues on a V8 have no consequence for me, but on a 12 they make me wonder.

I have to say I am having therapy for this, every day or so I attend a clinic at a place called Ferrarilife.com and the resident shrinks, quacks, patients and normal people do a great job helping me with my phobia!
 

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Well, you posted your question on a Ferrari forum; now go to www.lotustalk.com and see what kinds of answers you get there! ;)

My opinion: You are looking at two EXTREMELY different cars, in purpose, design, construction, driving dynamics, and most of all philosophy. The question in my mind is, "What led you to consider those two?"

The Elise -- in any variation -- is a car that you either love or hate. Most people either "get it" and adapt to it, or own it for a short time and realize it's not what they imagined it would be.

For most people, being low to the ground, in a small car, and/or in a light car either scares them or excites them. Regarding safety, I'd stick to NCAP and NHTSA ratings or valid engineering assessments to tell me about any car. Regarding the assumption above about safety and the car disintegrating, an Elise has energy absorbing crumple zones and breakaway portions like any modern car or race car.

A car that takes a *lot* of practice to get into and out of smoothly, has a spartan interior, and asks more (and rewards more) to the driver is going to entice some and put others off.

If you view pre-1995 Mercedes-Benz cars, air cooled Porsche 911s, and 1950s-60s Pininfarina bodied cars as standards of build quality, then any Lotus will feel like a cheap toy to you. If racing cars like 917s, various LMPs, and open wheel cars fit into scope and you understand they are designed for different purposes, then with a Lotus you will get the point.

An Elise is definitely a car that one needs to spend some time behind the wheel of and generally getting to know physically before deciding to buy.

Regarding Lotus in general, I always silently get a chuckle when someone describes anything but a Lotus as "like a go-kart for the road," or "like a race car for the road." EVERYTHING is a sled after you spend some quality time behind almost any Lotus other than maybe a later Esprit.

Someone above said you could get bored of the Lotus after a while. Quite frankly, Lotus are absolutely the most fun to drive and least boring to drive cars in the world. People who like what Lotus are all about never tire of them; others -- those who sell theirs -- simply realize it's not their cup of tea. :)
 

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My opinion: You are looking at two EXTREMELY different cars, in purpose, design, construction, driving dynamics, and most of all philosophy.
My thought presicely. The Lotus is more of a squirrel. Fast action, ricochette into and out of corners without smelling the coffee. The 550 more of a thoroughbred. Fast yet refined, allows you to enjoy the action.

Cigar vs. cigarette
Blond vs. brunette
Mate vs. Hoe
Paper vs. plastic (no wait..thats not right)
Mounds vs. almond joy because, Sometimes you feel like a nut...sometimes you don't.



SB
 

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Ok, if I were in your situation I would keep the 308 and take the Elise. Broaden your horizons;) I have seen several Elises and they just are an amazing sight. I would keep my childhood favorite car.:) I don't think a 550 would be worth it IMO. The Elise would definitely be a neat car to own, and its new so I am guessing a warranty comes with it also. The 308 has already proven to be reliable:D

Bottom Line
: would you rather see a 550 in the driveway/garage everyday with the Jeep and the Chevy or would you rather see an Elise and your dream car the 308 with the Jeep and the Chevy.

PS-Reading your posts on the 308 I have started liking them a lot more:D I am still bias over the 550 though, I'm sure in time that will change though;)

My 2 cents worth

Chris
 

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Whenever someone asks, "Do you prefer a Ferrari or a Lotus?" my reply is always, "Yes, please!" :)
 

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As an aside, I have to say the maintenance on the 550 also scares me a little, but not so much the routine maintenance like servicing and belts. Belts are no big deal, practically every car has them and the routine is well versed. I have to say at this juncture, a person who is very close to me always says "why don't Ferrari use chains, it makes more sense, MERCEDES use chains!" I can never win that argument (I never want to, to be honest! but answers on a postcard!).

What scares me are the things I cannot predict - the big things, like a problem gearbox or a head gasket issue, that kind of stuff. It is interesting to note that these as issues on a V8 have no consequence for me, but on a 12 they make me wonder.

I have to say I am having therapy for this, every day or so I attend a clinic at a place called Ferrarilife.com and the resident shrinks, quacks, patients and normal people do a great job helping me with my phobia!
When in the early 70s Ferrari was still using chains (i.e. most if not all 365 V12s), Cosworth started with the flexible belts. Reason? they claimed it did not transmit the crankshaft vibrations onto the head and camshafts.

Now Ferrari are back with the chains, there must be some sort of evolution in this aspect.

Mercedes are supposed to be efficient, but they certainly don't compare.
 

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No experience with the Elise myself but my colleague had a mild accident with his and it disintegrated into bits of carbonfibre apparently. So maybe the car is not the safest out there. Of course, you knew my answer to your question before you asked it so I won't need to put it down here. ;)


Onno
Actually fiberglass. Carbonfiber is quite a bit stronger.
 

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Now Ferrari are back with the chains, there must be some sort of evolution in this aspect.
.
There has been a lot of evolution on the chains. The old Daytona era chains were just that, chains. The new ones are quite complex combinations of metal and various othe materials which provide both strength and minimize vibration. I was quite impressed the first time I saw a set.
 

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Actually fiberglass. Carbonfiber is quite a bit stronger.
You're quite right, of course.

What scares me are the things I cannot predict - the big things, like a problem gearbox or a head gasket issue, that kind of stuff. It is interesting to note that these as issues on a V8 have no consequence for me, but on a 12 they make me wonder.
The thing you need to worry about most are drive train, and cosmetic damage. Getting new parts is where things get really expensive - new windscreen, new fender, things like that. But this can be difficult on a V8 as well - at the moment you just can't find a door for the 360, my specialist has told me. He had to get one from the States for a client.


Onno



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Well, you posted your question on a Ferrari forum; now go to www.lotustalk.com and see what kinds of answers you get there! ;)
touché! :)

When in the early 70s Ferrari was still using chains (i.e. most if not all 365 V12s), Cosworth started with the flexible belts. Reason? they claimed it did not transmit the crankshaft vibrations onto the head and camshafts.
Thank you :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Great responses from everyone. Thanks guys. It looks like the Lotus is out and I will save my pennies until such time as I can aquire a 550 without having to sell my 308. Plus the new truck I just got has suppressed my immediate urge to go buy something. :)
 

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Wow that is a better idea, to save some pennies and keep your 308 :D

Chris
 
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