I had a chat with the Field Engineer of Lotus Cars USA yesterday. We were discussing evap code errors. Somewhere in between him telling me to check the gas cap, and some vacuum lines it occurred to me that there is literally NO other auto manufacturer where you can have such a deep relationship with the factory. Not even Ferrari or Lamborghini.

I’m pretty sure he made his way to the states as a part of the crew that had wild success with the X-180 Esprits in the World Challenge years ago. He has been the field engineer as long as I have been involved with the brand and it would be harder to imagine someone doing a better job.

I’ve known him(Dave) for many years now, since the early days of my first Esprit where he went out of his way to protect me from unnecessary and expensive work that a now-defunct dealership advocated, and I am humbled that when he comes through the Midwest, he makes time for the occasional dinner.

Throughout the years, Lotus has become legendary for its customer service. They seem to know each and every car they have produced, and in my case, they have occasionally twisted their own warranties beyond all reasonable shape to help me keep my cars on the road. If you are reasonable with Lotus Cars USA, you can never end up disappointed by the folks who work there. It’s because of people like Dave, not something written in a procedural manual, and I selfishly hope he never retires (for the sake of my Esprit…)

Its not always easy sledding. There are people that push him a little too hard, or for things that really aren’t all that important, or timely, and Dave was blessed with a wicked sense of humor, exclusively reserved for owners that do make unreasonable demands, like the time an Elise owner was so obsessed with a minor rattle to the point that he summoned poor Dave half way across the country to look at it. On the road during their test drive, the owner continued bellyaching, and unable to take it anymore, Dave pointed to the right knob on the radio. “See that?” he asked. “Yes” responded the driver. “Turn it all the way to the left”. The driver did, and the music started blasting. “Can you hear the rattle now?” And the lesson the taught…

Dave has also talked me through technical issues at hours usually reserved for business that get people thrown in jail, never complaining, and never making me feel like an idiot (or any more than I deserved).

He is, however, scared to death of my wife, and he should be. As far as Lotus cars goes, she is a “bottom line” kind of participant, and the early returns on the new Esprit have been less than amazing. The opinion she lays on him about his marque is as unfiltered as whiskey taken straight from the still, and the back and forth they enjoy is usually hilarious. If anyone can find a way to get the car back in her grace, it’s him.

I’ve known him to show up at some of the national Lotus club events on his own dime too. That’s pretty cool.

The company knows when one of their cars is out of sorts. A warranty manager equally as effective and twice as funny as Dave once told me that he had begun to look at my old Esprit as his “own personal Vietnam” and was willing to sell his house and everything in it to help sort the poor car. You would never live to speak to a warranty manager at a typical car company unless it was in a court of law.

Even though my Esprit is years out of warranty, I am pretty sure Dave will keep me on a short leash until its fully recommissioned. He takes an unusual amount of pride in his cars and won’t accept anything but the best for them. I have a feeling he would be like that no matter what company he worked for, but we are lucky to have him at LCU.

I doubt it would be possible for me to take another brand seriously at this point.