If you’re looking for a Lotus Elise, you’re probably well aware of my "$30,000 rule" — that there’s a floor on Lotus Elise prices at around $30,000, and it doesn’t matter how many miles one has, or how it’s been driven, or what year it is, it’ll generally never get cheaper than $30,000. Today, I’m showing you the cheapest Lotus Elise for sale on Autotrader, and I consider it the exception that proves the rule.
The cheapest Elise on Autotrader is a 2005 model that’s listed with 51,000 miles by a private seller in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for $24,000. Initially, that would appear to violate my $30,000 rule — except that this particular Elise has a rebuilt title. The Carfax report shows it was involved in an accident early in its life, and it received the rebuilt title as a result. Since then, it’s had two owners and covered 51,000 miles.
The amazing thing about this is that even an Elise from the very first model year, with relatively high miles (for an Elise) and a rebuilt title … still lists for $24,000! To me, this is proof of my adage that you have to spend $30,000 for an Elise: You can spend a little less, sure, but it’ll have high miles and a rebuilt title. And even then, it’s not like you’re getting half off. It’s still $24,000!
This particular Elise seems reasonably fine aside from the title issue, as the rebuilt title was issued when it was only a few months old — and it’s covered big miles since then. Still, I’d have a mechanic go over it to make sure everything was in good shape. And then I’d drive the wheels off it. Maybe literally.
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.