S1 Elise – Norfolk Road Trip and Lotus Factory Tour

Jem and I wanted to go for a long weekend away now the weather was nice and the Elise really deserved a road trip as the suspension refresh was all finished. We weren’t quite sure where to go, the Scottish Highlands are usually top of the list as it’s so quiet there and the roads and views are amazing. That’s a long way to go for a few nights though and we were not too sure how comfortable the Elise would be for a 16ish hour drive!

We were talking to Jem’s brother though and he suggested we go to Norfolk as it’s not too far and is a pretty nice area of the UK. Then I remembered the Lotus factory is in Norfolk so I wondered if it was possible to see the factory. A quick Google told me Lotus do factory tours so that was it, we were definitely going to Norfolk!

The Elise looking nice and clean ready to see how much stuff we could fit in it.


The Forester got to live in the garage for a few days.


A very full Elise boot.


Our first destination was the Lotus factory for a tour. This was a great start to the holiday! There was only 6 people on our tour and it was not at all rushed with plenty of time to get a good look at things and ask questions throughout. The access to everything was much more than I’d expected. It’s not uncommon to see me at a car show, on my hands and knees, getting a look at the oily bits under a car. So having a couple of the latest Exige subframe and engine assemblies wheeled out so we could get a real close up look at everything was exactly my kinda thing! Getting an understanding of the order of assembly and how some sections of the cars are constructed that would require a lot of disassembly to get to on my own Elise was very interesting too. I can’t really explain why but there was also something cool about being in the building my Elise was built in and standing at the spot it would have rolled off the production line 20 years before.

I would recommend anybody with an interest in cars or manufacturing to go. I more recently took tours of the Lamborghini and Ducati factories in Italy and they were interesting but there were more people, less time and nothing like the access so nowhere near as good as the Lotus factory tour.

As you might expect, cameras were banned in the factory so I have no photos to add here accept some I took when we arrived at the entrance to the Lotus site and got our passes.


While waiting here we met some Dutch (I think) visitors who where visiting Lotus for a business meeting of some sort. They were very interested in the Elise and I explained I’d only recently bought it and just finished stripping down and rebuilding the suspension. They were a bit confused as to why I’d do such a thing then it became apparent they had no idea it was 20 years old and thought it was new! Guess the old girl can’t be looking too bad then. 🙂


A version I instagramified.


After the factory tour we headed to where we were staying for the next few nights.


Then after a bit of Googling we found somewhere to go get dinner that had a nice big car park for the Elise. A packed pub car park is definitely not somewhere I could happily leave the Elise!


An important part of any road trip is car snacks. They’re more important on the longer trips we’ve done in the past when you have no idea when or where you’re going to find lunch. But now they’re a thing so we had to pick some good ones even for the shorter drives we were doing around Norfolk.


We figured we’d better go find a Norfolk sandy beach one day so we did along with the necessary safe parking spot for the day.


It seemed like a nice warm day until we got out of the car and felt the wind. Jem managed a complete outfit change in the Elise made harder by the walkers passing by the whole time. You suddenly realise how many looks the Elise gets when you’re really wishing people would just keep their head down and walk past.

Jem and half eaten apple, post outfit change. Notice how far away the nearest other car is! 😀


As expected, a sandy beach.


A very windy, sandy beach.


We went for coffee and cake at Wiveton Hall of BBC’s Normal for Norfolk fame, one day. Service and cake were good, parking was even better! 😉


The Norfolk Broads were on the to do list so we went for a boat trip one morning to see some wildlife. It was a really good trip and the captain/guide was very interesting.


When we got back we had some lunch and took a look inside this windmill.


As usual Jem was navigating and picking the more scenic routes to find some fun/quiet roads. This was a sudden stop though as Jem was begging to suffer pretty bad morning sickness and suddenly needed to not be in the car!


We did make it to last destination, a boardwalk, without any mishaps in the car, though the local hedgerows didn’t come off too well.


Then that was pretty much it for our 3 days in Norfolk. Just the drive home to do.

Back home, Forester out, Elise in.


The Elise performed faultlessly the whole time and was much more comfortable than we were expecting. The only thing I’d have liked is some air con for some of the hotter spells or at least a bit less heat soak into the cabin from the engine bay. I might look at doing something about that some time. First though the Elise would need a good clean…..