PA to MO
Our family has a new baby - a 2007 Lotus Elise Type 72D. It's 1,984 pounds, 149 inches long and it marks our 25th car since we were married, 10 years ago. Over the years, we've gone to some lengths to get cars: endless hours in dealerships dealing with salesmen in loafers and one saleswoman, also in loafers, flying one state over and driving back one afternoon and finding out a seller falsified the title and then tried to cover it up. Good times.
But, so far, getting this car takes the cake. It involved extensive travel over one very long day. And, luckily, I didn’t have to go. So, you’re in for a treat today – another guest post from my wonderful, car-obsessed husband, Scott. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shake your head at our insaneness. Enjoy!
“This is stupid.”
“What, waking up at four in the morning on a Saturday or driving a Lotus half way across the country?”
My wife Julie was not happy about taking me to the airport that early so I could catch a flight to pick up my most recent car purchase, a 2007 Lotus Elise Type 72D. I would be flying into Newark and driving the car nearly 900 miles from Macungie, PA back home to the St. Louis area. This was not my original plan. My search for a Lotus started back in July when I sold my 2006 Pontiac GTO, soon to be followed by the sale of my second car, a 2005 Mazdaspeed Miata. Both were great cars and fed my need for raw power (the GTO) and handling (Miata). However, the Lotus Elise had always caught my eye from its arrival to the states in 2005; it’s just that my wallet could never afford it. I have gone through my fair share of cars, attempting to find my perfect car. Short from building one on my own, I believe I have finally found my perfect driving companion in the Elise. While most new car buyers check every option box possible, I prefer most items to be left off. No heated seats, ok. No cruise control, I’ll survive. No power steering, yes, please. I like it raw and the Elise delivers.
The Elise has been available in England since 1996 and some would say it was the replacement for the Lotus Elan, although I do not agree. To meet tough regulations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Lotus would be given a three year exemption due to the lack of meeting headlight restrictions and no bumpers. In 2007, Lotus would make minor tweaks to the headlights and add 2.5 mph bumpers to the car. Unfortunately, these changes would not be enough for the NHTSA and 2011 would be the last model year for the current Elise. What I love so much about the Elise is also what brought it to its end. Light, raw and totally impractical. I would find out what these three words mean while driving half way across the United States.
I barely slept the night before as I was eager to see the car. I arrived at the airport early and was one of the first to get on the plane. It was a small plane with less than 19 rows. Luckily it was less than half full, but my ticket had me sitting in the last row, next to the restroom. I was hoping this would not be a tale tell sign of how this trip would work out for me. As I began to get comfortable, a middle-aged woman was putting her items in the overhead compartment just a few aisles from me. She bent over to take a seat and slammed her head right into the overhead compartment. She appeared confused, turned around to the other side of the aisle and began to sit and slammed her head once again. And I thought my day was off to a bad start because I was sitting next to the crapper. The plane took off on time and I dozed off looking out the window at a beautiful sky filled with all the primary colors.
Two hours later I was at the Newark Airport where Art, the current owner of the car would meet me and drive me back to his home in Macungie, PA. I have been talking with Art for nearly a month and as I mentioned before, it was not my plan to drive the car home. After purchasing the car in early September, I made arrangements to have the car transported from Art’s home to mine using Reliable Transport. After waiting over two weeks and no confirmation from Reliable, I decided to give them a call. They told me that they were having difficulty getting a truck to that area. The gentleman on the phone promised that he would continue to work on the situation, but it would probably be in my best interest to look for other transporters. I could read between the lines and I knew I was in for a road trip. I called Art about the situation and he laughed.
“Kind of ironic that a company called Reliable couldn’t help you, huh?” We both had a chuckle and made flight arrangements to pick up the car.
Art was waiting out front in his wife’s red Audi A3. I threw my backpack in back and we were off. Art is a true Lotus enthusiast along with an interest in Porsche and Ferrari. He is a walking dictionary of knowledge about Ferrari 308s and even Testarossas. So much so, Art is often asked to judge pristine examples of Lotuses and Ferraris at coveted car events. I asked him what has been the craziest car he has had to critique.
“I had a guy pull up in his Testarossa with tinted windows, huge 22” chrome wheels and neon lights. Testarossas are usually hard to judge. You have 12 red Testarossas sitting there that are all the same and perfect. You could flip a coin to pick the winner and no one would know any better. Not this guy. He had the balls to show up and park his car right next to everyone. It was great.”
The stories continued as we made the hour long drive back to Art’s home. We both shared the cars we have owned and Art discussed his options for his next purchase, either a 1983 Lotus Turbo Espirit Investor's Edition or a new VW Golf GTI. While the general public would cross shop a Honda Accord and a Toyota Camry, enthusiasts think from the heart and not the brain. I understand his dilemma, as I have been there before. We pulled up to the house and the garage door opened, revealing my new car. I checked the car over and everything was perfect. After gathering all the paperwork and some small talk, it was approaching 11:00 am. Art, his wife, Nadine and I decided to go get Mexican for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Thank god I was taking this road trip by myself. After lunch, we took a few photos, shook hands and promised to stay in touch. I hopped into my new purchase and started out on the long drive home.