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This Is the Cheapest Lotus Elise For Sale on Autotrader

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.

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  1. This Lotus Elise is the ultimate example of the “I’ll buy it, but only 5 years used because they’re charging $15k more than I think it’s worth” trope among Jalopnik and Reddit enthusiasts. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of people want an Elise, but only if it’s 3-years CPO or 5-years used and heavily depreciated, even if they can afford the MSRP, because they’re not going to pay MSRP for a cool weekend car. The result is a near-bankrupt company that sold 500 cars in the US last year. Used prices that simply don’t go down no matter what, because literally every car guy wants one used, but the supply of new ones trickling into the used market is nonexistent, because nobody who isn’t a car guy wants one at all.
    People, if you want car companies to make cool cars that you like, you have to be willing to buy them new. They’re not charities and most of them are run by bean counters, there will be no competition in the cheap mid-engined roadster segment if a business case can’t be made. “That’s cool, and the car world and car history will be better for having it whether it sells or not” is a thought that I’m sure some of the car guy engineers at companies like GM have, but they can only build what the bosses let them build, because it will actually make money. Yeah, most cool cars cost double what we’re willing to pay, but the reason there are no volume-priced mass market models is because there is no volume in this segment. The chicken has to come before the egg, someone has to be able to sell a lot of the $50-100k models before Honda or GM think “as many as they’re selling at $65k, I bet we could sell 50,000 per year at $25k.”
    • As much as I’d like to buy cool cars new, I just can’t justify spending more than $10k on any car. I also don’t make enough money to comfortably buy anything new aside from an econobox. So I just have fun with my cheap old BMW’s— they made tons of em so I’ll have plenty to play with for the foreseeable future.

    • Used Elises have killed new Elise sales from the very beginning, more than half of the cars in the US are 2005 models, and a significant portion are 2006.  07-11s are less than a quarter of the total.  People bought these new, for base level Corvette money and realized they were terribly impractical and pretty uncomfortable for anyone in the age range that could spend mid $40s on a toy.  So you had virtually new cars on the used marked from day 1.  I remember looking at the used cars in 2007/2008 and they basically all had supercar mileage.  7,000 was considered high mileage for a 3 year old car.  Why would anyone buy a new one with a greater supply of showroom like used cars could be had at a 30% discount?

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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