THEfirst time I drove a Lotus Elise it completely blew me away. The uncanny, intuitive handling and amazing level of grip were a revelation.
About two months later I was lucky enough to drive one on a circuit and act the hooligan in complete safety.
What a revelation, this is one of the most enjoyable and involving driving machines on the road and shows just how good the best can be.
In that car, I won fastest time of the day against at least two other motoring writers who raced cars on a regular basis and I still have the plaque to prove it.
The Elise is absolutely marvellous, with immense grip, the most superb balance and an excellent modified MG F or Toyota Celica 1.6 or 1.8 petrol engine mounted behind the seats and driving the rear wheels through a five or six-speed gearbox.
There have been an amazing 40 different models down the years with power ranging from 120 to 242bhp.
But even the Rover-sourced 1.6 gives 0-60 miles an hour in a supercar 5.8 seconds and the 1.8 Toyota unit brings this down as low as 4.3 seconds.
The main reasons for the performance are light weight and modified, high revving engines.
The standard 1.8 with just 120bhp is only slightly slower than a Porsche 911 and more powerful versions are even quicker.
But this is traditional approach to a sports car and that light weight is helped by no power steering, no electric windows, no central locking and a minimum of safety devices.
Comfort in the lower powered models is better than any sportscar has a right to and all are very easy to drive, despite non-powered steering.
Reliability was an issue with earlier cars and equipment is nonexistent in some models - there's not even a stereo. But there is reasonable cabin storage and a small boot.
The hood can be fiddly to put up and down and it's such a hands-on car that longer distances become quite wearing.
Economy should be between 33 and 40mpg depending on model, but insurance is very high - as you would expect.
This is not a car that many could use as everyday transport sadly - but what the heck, if you love driving, you'll forgive this car anything.
Pay around £23,000 for a 2010 standard Elise or about £35,000 for a 2015 S Touring.