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Esprit S1 Restoration (It's white too)

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The Rebuild Begins: Powdercoating the Chassis

Finally the rebuild has begun. A very exciting day indeed. A lot of work and time went into tearing the car apart, but here is where the long journey begins and the wallet starts getting lighter. But i can't wait to see the end result. For now, the first step towards a new looking Esprit, is with the backbone...the chassis.

The chassis was quite greasy from some dripping coolant and the usual leaking valve cover. Luckily the chassis is galvanized and even 30 years later, there is no rust on the frame.

I ended up using about a gallon of Purple Power (fully concentrated) to get it clean. I sprayed the frame twice a day for an entire week. Then i took a power washer to it, and it came out like this:
[attachment=22259:Lotus Restoration 002.jpg][attachment=22260:Lotus Restoration 004.jpg][attachment=22257:Lotus Restoration 005.jpg]

Had a local place powdercoat it. They were very friendly and did it at a reasonable price. Turnaround was very quick too. They cleaned and brush blasted the chassis clean. I didn't want them to completely sandblast the chassis and remove all of the galvanization. Having the galvanization and powdercoat layer should provide permanent rust protection. I couldn't get a picture of the finish, but there are some shiny spots in the powdercoating where the galvanization was thick underneath. This is not very noticable from more than a few inches away. Don't get me wrong though, it looks amazing still. I'm fine with the shiny spots anyways, because i'm getting the added protection of the galvanization and you won't be able to see the spots once the body is back on. The final result really did turn out nice. This frame should definitely last the rest of the life of the car now.
[attachment=22263:Lotus Restoration 001.jpg][attachment=22264:Lotus Restoration 002.jpg][attachment=22262:Lotus Restoration 003.jpg]

Sorry for the picture quality, i didn't get a chance to get pictures before it went in the garage. There isn't much space to take good pictures and the lighting is bad. As you can tell the garage is quite full of lotus bits and tools, so i need to make more space before continuing the build. Be back with another update in a few months, once work resumes on the car.




Disassembly pt 15: The final chapter, suspension removal

Down to the last chapter in the Esprit disassembly. The focus this time is the suspension. I couldn't manage to track down a spring compressor that works on the esprit springs. The springs so tightly wound, i found that none of the compressors seem to work. Made due using some ratchet straps. All the bushings need to be replaced though.

The springs and control arms look in good shape though.

These worn out bushings need to be replaced:

And it's finally all removed

Now, it's all ready to start rebuilding. The plan is to powder coat the chassis, rebuild the suspension, then work on the brakes, wheels, cooling system, etc. to get a rolling chassis together (minus engine and trans). Then rebuild the engine and trans. Next is the finishing the rolling chassis. The the body work and interior. It's a long way to go though. But more to come soon.




Disassembly pt 14: Stripping the chassis

I'm getting down to the last few things now. Just a few things left to remove. Its seems like it all happened quick on this blog, but it was actually a few months worth of work to get to this point. Sorry if these write ups are short, but i'm trying to cover a lot of work in just a few entries. Well, it's time to get the cooling fans and pipes off, remove the brake lines and engine mounts.

Cooling components and pipes to remove:

Brake lines to be removed:

Engine mounts to remove, one had already been replaced and the other was damaged:




Disassembly pt 13: removing the engine

It's finally time to get the engine out of here. With an engine hoist, it's a one man job.

First you have to remove the driveshafts

then a few bolts

and the gearbox is out:

Next...the engine

There's still a mess left over

A quick inspection shows a bad clutch:

More work soon to come, but this seems like real progress now.




Disassebly pt 12: Diassembling the chassis

I can't wait to remove the engine and trans, but there is still work to be done first. There's a few things to disconnect like the...

gear linkage:

coolant hoses:




Diassembly pt 11: Removing the body

Finally, the day came to separate the body and the chassis. I was a little unprepared, but with endless rain looming in the forecast and time off work, i did the best i could to hurry.

Not the prefered method, but it works:

A couple pictures of the engine, trans., and chassis.




Disassembly pt 10: Checking the bodywork

Still waiting for a good day to remove the body, i decided to have a look around at the bodywork. I took some pitcures of the cracking and chipping paint. The car looks pretty awful up close. Here's a few photos of just a few spots.

And yes...the paint was originally white




Disassembly pt 9: Prep for body removal

It's getting close to time for body removal, but a few more things need to be disconnected. Still need to remove the throttle and choke linkages, brake and clutch lines, and all of the engine wiring.

This is the last time things will look this neat:

Disconnecting the brake lines:

Don't forget to release the parking brake lines too

Disconnect the clutch line:

Disconnect the steering column linkage and remove the column:

Disconnect throttle linkage:

And disconnect lots of wiring:

It's almost time...




Disassembly pt 8: fuel tanks

This proved to be the most difficult part of disassembling the car. First i chose to cut the fuel line going into the fuel pump and drain the fuel there since i will be replacing the lines. You can see one of the exposed fuel tanks in this picture:

The fuel filler necks had to be removed. They're hiding behind the quater-windows. It makes removal a lot easier, if you remove the window first. A razor blade and some old guitar strings worked well to get the window out.

After unbolting the fuel tank from the body and disconnecting all of the fuel lines, it's time for them to come out. These required some choreography to get out but they eventually come. And finally...the tanks are out.

Once the fuel tanks were out, i could get a better look at the firewire. I noticed the firewall had cracked and the layers were separating. It looks like i'm going to have to cut it out and replace it at some point. Seems kind of dumb to have a plywood firewall, so i might replace it with some honeycomb layered fiberglass instead. A discussion for later, but for now...on to the body removal.




Disassembly pt 7: The engine bay

The next job to tackle was removing the engine bay walls and floors. The area was starting to show it's age. The carpets were starting to fade and crumble. Everything started out looking like this.

The floor boards and carpet came out easy after removing a few bolts, but all of the boards crumbled so hopefully i can use the carpets to make templates for new floor boards.




Disassembly pt 6: Removing the radiator

I found out there isn't a whole lot of room under the car to drain the coolant.

There were a lot more screws holding the shroud on than expected, but i finally got them all and removed the shroud. The fans and mounting brackets were badly rusted, but that's about the only palce there's rust on the car.

And after a lot of unbolting things and rust falling in my eyes...the radiator was out.




Disassembly pt 5: Cleaning the boots

The boot area was pretty dirty before cleaning it out. Here's a picture after removing the spare tire.

Decided to remove the headlight pods next, but first had to disconnect the headlamp motors. The arms were quite rusted though. I'm pretty sure i used a whole can of WD-40.




Diassembly pt 4: Heater removal

Once the interior was mostly out, the next goal was to remove the heater unit. It's really buried up under the dash, but i could actually get to it once everything else was out of the way.

I drained the coolant in the car, but more kept finding it's way into the lines. Besides this the heater removal was fairly straight forward. Just a few hoses and coolant lines to remove.

And don't forget the screws holding it in from the front.




Disassembly pt 3: Wires and more wires

So most of the interior is diassembled at this point, but there are lots of lights and switches and gauges, etc. to disconnect. The wiring harness in this car isn't that complicated, but it sure seemslike there are a lot of wires everywhere. Carefully tagging and marking each wire should make reassembly a lot easier though...especially since i'll most likely forget by the time i get around to it.

Here's the interior with almost everything removed:

Wires everywhere:




Diassembly pt 2: The interior

Most of the interior was pretty easy to disassemble. The interior is held in mostly by wood screws and such, making a phillips head screwdriver you're best friend during this part of the disassebmly.

Most of the interior was in fairly good shape, with minor discoloration of the leather and only a few scratches.

The door panels and most of the other leather bits were in decent shape:

The seats and carpets, however have seen better days. The seats are going to have to be reupholstered.
Driver's seat:

Passenger's seat:

Had to remove the nasty trim around the headliner too:

I'm going to save a lot of the other leather bits in hope of reviving and redying.




Disassembly pt 1: The dash

It was a little tricky, but got the dash removed without too much trouble. I love the green Veglia gauge, so i was extra carefulnot to damage it. It's one part that must go back on.

The wood dash is cracked pretty bad so will have to figure out a way to change it.




Before the restoration

So here are some pics of the Esprit about a year or two ago (most recent i could find)...before starting the resto.

[attachment=21876:lotus pics 005.JPG][attachment=21877:lotus pics 002.JPG]




Back Story

So my father bought a '78 white esprit many years ago. He like many saw the 007 movie as a teenager and fell in love with this amazing car. Many years later he finally had one. The great thing was we actually managed to find it locally, and it was white at that. The car was repainted at some point in its live but it was originally a white car (no Tartan interior though, thankfully).

The car was in fair shape at that point. It has a brown leather interior, which isnt great, but although its classic, i don't personally like the Tartan interiors. The interior was a bit rough as the carpets were stained a bit and the seats were all torn up. The body was fair, but the mechanicals were good. The car was running fine and was on the road up until i chose to start restoring it.

The car started to need some maintenance, like timing belt, carbs needed a rebuild, there was a leak in the exhaust, the brake master cylinder was starting to go bad, and the clutch was having problems. I didn't feel like replacing the timing belt with the engine in the car and i've always heard the rule, "If you havemore than two jobs to do on the engine, pull it." So i decided it was time for a restoration. It really needed it anyways since the interior was shot, the tires were also starting to dry rot, and spider cracks were forming in the paint.

I started taking the car apart earlier this spring. I got the car down to bare chassis about 6 months ago, and stuffed parts just about anywhere i could find room. Once the chassis was stripped and clean, i sent it off to powder coating. Got that done about 5 or 6 months ago and thats where i'm at in the restoration. I've been quite busy lately so the restoration has stalled a bit while i collect tools needed to move on. While the restoration is paused a bit, i figured i'd start this blog documenting the restoration. So heres the beginning of reassembling the 78 Esprit S1...



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