To be honest, I was out of bed like a kid at Christmas. And I couldn’t have hoped for a more pleasant day for Phil and I to have to travel to somewhere near Cambridge to collect a Series 1 Lotus Elise, which will, with some degree of hard graft, become a competent and competitive racing car.

The car had come to my (and many other Lotus fans) attention after photographs of it in a very sad state of repair were posted on the Lotus enthusiast website, SELOC.org. Many people expressed an interest in rescuing the car – and eventually a friend of the owner materialised, welcoming offers.

And like many others, that was probably the last I thought of it for a few months.

That was until a conversation with Lotus enthusiast, repairer, modifier, parts-hoarder and all-round top authority on the subject, Phil Peek. Phil has built Elises, from nearly the ground up on more than one occasion, for many people – each of them raving about his energy, attention-to-detail and superb end results.

I wanted to get together a car of some description to race in the Lotus-on-Track Elise Trophy. At the same time I wanted a learning experience that would, through me being as hands-on as possible, demystify many areas of track and race cars I’ve never previously had the opportunity to explore.

Phil and I talked about my existing experience of working on cars, the budget, whether I wanted the car to be road-legal, how much time and work I wanted to put in – and so on. It was during this conversation Phil revealed that he’d been the eventual purchaser of the sad-looking Norfolk Mustard yellow Elise for a project which had since fallen-through. It didn’t take long for me to agree to take the car off Phil’s hands!

Whilst it certainly was a pleasant day, it didn’t start at all swimmingly. I was half-hour late arriving at Phil’s due to terrible cross country traffic. Then we couldn’t find the number plate for Phil’s trailer. At this point it became apparent that the Tom-Tom charger wasn’t working, which necessitated printing the directions from Multimap. All-in-all we were a full-hour late leaving. Not to worry, eh…

The trip to collect and drop the car back at my parents, where I’d be carrying out most of the restorative work, was entirely unremarkable. There and back Phil and I talked over the best strategy for starting the long-since used Rover K-series for the first time when the time eventually arose. Reading through the huge wad of bills and MOT statements that night credit must go to the original owner who maintained the car meticulously and at serious main-dealer costs – this was certainly reassuring.