Since we picked up the car in November, we didn't have many opportunities to put many miles on the car due to rather inclement weather in the Midwest. The dealer strongly recommended that the first service be done by the dealer. The first service basically entails changing the oil from the petroleum-based break-in oil to a full synthetic oil at about 1,000 miles. I presume they want to make sure you didn't beat the crap out of the car during break-in and then claim a bunch of future warranty issues. The dealer also looks over the car for any obvious defects and performs any updates mandated by product recalls.
Apparently people that own exotic cars don't need to have their autos serviced on weekends. Our dealer, Fox Valley Motorcars, does not open its service department on weekends so I had to take a day off work to drive the car to Chicago from Dubuque to get the work done. Conveniently though, they offer a service that will pick up your car in a trailer and take it to the dealer during the week. The total service ran about $400 so I can only imagine how much the towing fee would have been. Some day I may be in the Lamborghini stratus, but currently my funding is a bit more pedestrian so I drove.
Their service shop had four technicians and six lifts. The idiot with the orange Lamborghini had bought a set of rims that wouldn't fit in the wheel wells. He probably dropped $6k on the wheels and another $1k to figure out they were the wrong size. Sad, but very funny to witness.
Once my car was on the lift I snapped a couple photos. However, I kept getting yelled at by the service rep to stay out of the way. Otherwise, I would have had many more photos to share. There was a guy buying a 2002 Porsche GT3 for $85k and they let him all over the shop to check out his car. Didn't seem fair, but they already had my money so they didn't need to be nice.
Here you can the technician removing the air dam from underneath the engine. The entire underneath of the car is aluminium panels. With the panel removed, the oil filter is readily accessible.
Here you can see the front suspension from underneath. You can also see the flat aluminium underside. Of course, it is the suspension that prompts one buys a Lotus. From this photo you can get a hint of how Lotus achieves its performance specs with the Elise. The body structure is made out of aluminium boxes that are assembled/glued together in a process similar to an airplane wing. This process results in a remarkably stiff and light chassis that has put an enormous grin on our faces ever since we got ours.
This picture shows the rear suspension with the oil draining in the foreground. After draining the petroleum-based break-in oil, they replaced it with full synthetic Castrol Syntec 5W-40.
When I came in for the service, the rep informed me that the car only had one recall notice that involved a correction to one page of the manual. While I was sitting in the waiting room during the oil change, I saw that they offered Xenon head lamp upgrades (H7 Upgrade Kit). He said that the bulbs themselves were relatively inexpensive, but the installation would require about an hour and a couple hundred dollars. The length of time for the change was due to the fact that access to the head lamp assembly was from the wheel well as you can see in the photo.
I balked at the price and let them continue on with the oil change. He then came back and said that Lotus was also recalling the headlamp assembly. They would need to add a diffuser ring around the headlamp lens and since they already had to crack into the assembly they would change the bulbs for no labor charge. Apparently, if light hits the head lamp lens just so, the curvature of the lens intensifies the light hitting the surrounding black cover. With prolonged exposure the black plastic will degrade. The entire process actually ended up taking nearly two hours so I'm glad I didn't pay for it.
Here's a photo of the Fox Valley Motocars showroom. In particular, they had an Exige on the floor (right photo), which was one of the first in the country. The salesmen say that this dealership is one of (if not the) biggest Lotus dealer in the U.S. As a result, they tend to get the nicest toys from the factory. The black Exige in the photo listed at $54,465 with Lifestyle Paint and Touring Package, but you'd need another $5,000 on top of that to call it your own!
It's only good to hang out at a car dealer for three hours when it's an exotic car dealer!
After my car was serviced, they washed it by hand. A nice touch since the drive from Dubuque was a bit messy. Sitting in the way was a 1988 Lamborghini Countach. All I needed was a white jacket and the Miami Vice theme music to take me back to my youth. The best was the license plate, which read PURBULL.
© 2006 Doug Rathburn