Car Girl: Elisa Artioli

by Michael Satterfield

Elisa Artioli was born into the automotive world, her grandfather Romano Artioli is legendary for reviving the Bugatti and Lotus brands out of his pure passion for sports cars, that produced the EB110 and of course the Lotus Elise, which he named after Elisa. I had a chance to interview Elisa who currently lives in Bolzano, Italy where she enjoys spirited drives in the mountains in her namesake car.

TGR: So many in the automotive world may only remember you from the unveiling of the Elise at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. A lot has changed since you were a little girl popping up out of the front seat of your namesake. You currently work as an architect?

Elisa: Correct, I am an architect. I just moved back to my hometown Bolzano after stages in Vienna, Madrid, Berlin, and Munich. Unlike many seem to believe, I don’t have any affiliation with Lotus. Just a big passion for driving my Elise and meeting the community out there with whom I like to share my adventures around Europe.

TGR: Do you have any special memories of growing up around cars?

Elisa: My Elise was waiting patiently for me in my garage but when my family left Norwich to come back to Italy, I was only 5 years old and the most interesting automotive chapter of my family history was already written. However, I grew up with a big heritage and a lot of storytelling that I am proud I can share today.

TGR: How did your Grandfather decide on naming the car after you?

 Elisa: At the time the Elise was designed my grandfather was the chairman of Lotus, and he wanted to give to the car an international character, and furthermore, he wanted to carry on the Chapman’s tradition of the car's name beginning with the letter E.

He thought that the name of his first granddaughter could bring luck to it, and I think it worked.

TGR: What are you currently driving?

Elisa: Other than my Elise I ride my Vespa. I take the scooter to move about daily because Bolzano is a really small city and I enjoy overtaking all traffic and don’t worry too much about parking.

I use the Elise almost every weekend during the “season”. This year for the first time I had an Audi S3 8L to improve my driving skills during winter times and I have to admit that I enjoy the turbo boost a lot on the mountain passes.

TGR: Following you on Instagram it seems that road trips are one of your favorite past times. Where is your favorite place to drive?

Elisa: There are too many beautiful passes around Bolzano, I couldn’t name only one. For sure one of the iconic places to drive the Elise is Stelvio since some of the development took place there. As you noticed my passion is road trips. I grew up with a lightweight sports car and curvy roads just 10 minutes away from home.

I noticed that a lot of people ask me to share more about my routes. I will soon be launching a web presence, Delightful Driving  – a channel dedicated to road trips.

TGR: Were you always interested in being part of the greater car community or was it something that came about later?

Elisa: With the 20th anniversary, some Lotus Clubs and Dealers asked me to participate to meetings to celebrate the important date.

So I created a Facebook and Instagram page but actually, I didn't expect such enthusiasm when I started posting. I am always impressed by realizing how many people seem to enjoy it.

I have to say that the Lotus community it is a really special one: We might be a bunch of weirdo’s but the nice thing is that we are easy-going people because Lotus is a car for drivers. You probably will not find us discussing interior stitching color choices or option lists. We enjoy the driving experience and embrace the small imperfections of our cars.

TGR: Where should people follow you?

Elisa: On the mountain passes in the Dolomites if they can keep up! Joking aside I would really love if people would like to join me on my little adventures because a shared experience multiplies the joy.

If you want to know more about me and my 1997’s Elise check out my Instagram @iamlotuselise

If you are a delightful driver like me and you want to join some road trips in central Europe – stay tuned for upcoming activities on @DelightfulDriving.