When I played on Elite, I enjoyed the diffrent damages to the ship after a respawn, and that you have to repair them. What would be a really cool gimmick in addition to the difficulty slider, would be visible damage to the ship.
Actually there are damage textures in game, so why not make them permanent if your ship is damaged because of your death.
You could include:
minimal visible hull damages to minimal injuries
major visible damage to major injuries
an almost wrecked ship to critical injuries
I dont know if this is possible, but probably worth considering it, since it would add some more flair to the game if you ship is actually visibly damaged.