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Elite 4.9

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About Elite 4.9

  • Rank
    LOTU

More Info

  • Name
    Richard Norman
  • Car
    Lotus Elite 502, 1974
  • Modifications
    Only factory approved..really ! IF these were done when new the Elite would have sold way more cars. List of mods is in my photo section. check it out and tell me what you like.
  • Location
    United States, Seattle

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  1. Stay away from the original GM unit. I took mine off and haven't as yet replaced it but then I live in a climate that really doesn't get all that hot so not really needed. It also took 8 hp to run which in the federal version was too much to loose. Lotus said it was and extra 135 lbs (whole system ) so different front springs were required to offset the added weight. And it uses Freon 12 which is no longer manufactured. R-134a replaced that so get a modern one for sure. An aluminum housed sound better for sure. Probably many from newer cars will do the job. atb, Richard
  2. Also updated was the brake master cylinder. Lotus's original part was something over $500 US dollars to replace so I found an AC Delco one for $47 with basically the same cylinder with right hand ports and the same piston diameter, but then I had to replace all of the brake lines which was necessary as the union to the rear brakes was blocked from a stuck valve down line. Even 160 psi wasn't enough to get any brake fluid through to bleed the rear brakes. I didn't find any mention of this part in the workshop manual which was very annoying. Really didn't matter because the rear end had leaked rear end fluid saturating the rear brake shoes at only 28,000 miles making them essentially worthless. Seals failed! The forklift rear end is really problematic and was not designed for a car traveling at much higher speeds and distances IMHO.
  3. The overall shape was really never accepted by the Lotus aficionados. Copied, no doubt, from American Motors Gremlin (1972 even used the same door handles) the rear end design takes some getting used to IMHO. I like it now but have owned the car for almost 40 years. It is a great road car with awesome handling and with the mods I have done, is a lot more reliable. Lots of storage and a very large interior even a large man can be comfortable. This car, in the US, in it's original form is difficult to find someone who actually knows how to work on them and it would not be wise to go road tripping with one too far from home.
  4. Red is one of the colors IMHO best suits the Elite. Cardinal Red from a Ford truck color. Notice that the dual exhausts look to be plugged but these are ss "SuperTrap" mufflers many racers have used in the past as one can quiet the noise with the number of radial defusers and adjust back pressure for controlling the hp and torque. Very nice sweet rumble this small V8 produces. Actually quieter than the original Lotus twincam believe it or not. Larger 16 inch alloy wheels to accommodate the z rated Dunlap's with slightly larger foot print on the back @ 225 verses the original width of 205.
  5. Hey Richard, Welcome to the forum ! Nice find! Love that color. It looks like at least one of the rad fans has been replaced and I would guess it is the orange fan bladed one. These are dc motors so you should be able to switch the 2 wires and run it the other way, sucking in the air, as it is suppose to simulate just like when driving down the road. There are jacking points on the bottom of the body but not the chassis. I jack mine Elite with a hydraulic jack on the rear end and on the front cross member only. You will need to find a workshop manual or wait for someone to post a picture of where they are. Your scissor lift may fit as the places for lifting it are inside the wheelbase of the car. atb, Richard
  6. Not seen is an updated heavy duty 10" clutch to match the heavy duty 5 speed transmission. Offenhauser valve train covers dress up the engine with along with spark wire holders keeping them away from the exhaust headers which were ceramic metallic coated, inside and out, to dress up these parts, keeping the exhaust temps up inside the headers for an increase in power (around 10 hp increase to help scavenge the exhaust) all while keeping the engine bay some 70 F degrees cooler.
  7. Same wood Lotus factory used a few years later in their Esprit. I changed 5 somewhat major things I felt was needed to make this car easily more desirable and the factory ended up with the exact same improvements. Real Elm wood dash, door and consul cappings, larger 16 inch wheels, electric lifts for the headlight pods and painted window trim body color. And finely, although it took them a lot longer (well after the final Elite version, the Excel went out of production) Lotus put in a much needed V8 in their 2 seater Esprit
  8. The 5 speed Tremec transmission evolved from Mustang owners needing a transmission that would take the 650 hp , the 302 cid drag engines produced for their 10 second quarter mile racers. The original would only take a couple of runs before second great would blow. When I bought this transmission, they had run 170 passes without a failure. Now called the TKO, this is one tough transmission with a .68 final drive in 5th. Makes for an under 2,000 rpm engine speed @ 60 mph and a top speed, at red line, of over 190 mph.
  9. This same design was no doubt copied from the Ford GT which took out the best the Ferrari had to offer.
  10. The much modified 1961 Buick, now 4.9 L (298 cid) all aluminum V8 weighs in at nearly the exact same weight as the original Lotus twin cam 4 keeping the same 50/50 weight balance as original. I plumbed the entire engine with stainless steel braided hoses with an fittings. Plus a 4 core, 4 gallon custom radiator which was a very tight fit. Also added was a K&N air filter on top the Holley double pumper 4 barrel 600 cfm carb with larger secondaries.
  11. I ended up replacing the 14" original alloy factory wheels with 16" as there simply no tires now available suitable for sustaining the heat that can be generated by the awesome handling and high speed corning this car has. Dunlap sports 8,000 z rated tires were chosen after reading a road test of some top 8 performance tires. These tires won the test and came out in 1st place on nearly everyone of the categories except noise. Excellent in both the dry and wet weather corning with super wide rain grooves to exit a lot of water. Tons of grip make it a perfect tire for the Elite. 205/45/16 give the exact same overall size of the originals which is the maximum one can fit without rubbing. 215/45/16 were put on the rear because of the extra power ( nearly 3 times the torque for the federal original twincam engine ) now available with the Buick 4.9 L all aluminum V8.
  12. I have a workshop manual from Dr. Christopher Jacobs an electrical engineer from back a few years. The name of the book is call "optimizing your ignition" and he tells all the secrets of his trade to maximize what you have, for most power and efficiency. He said 90% of all electrical problems on cars are bad grounds which you found. Great job! My Elite, when I purchased it, had a good number of melted wires, mostly under the dash. Not the optimum of electrical design with only 28 k on the OD and less than 10 years old. I, like you, just ran new wires. What kind of new upholstery are you going with? These cars came with a cloth originally and then leather was an option some time later which is the way I went. But there is a lot of interior in this car so it probably won't be cheap to do. Are you keeping the same color exterior and what did you pick for your interior color? Not too many of these cars are in the US and running so this is going to be somewhat of a rare one. In my Lotus club we only have 2. atb, Richard
  13. Hey BK, Nice find. Looks like a twin to my car, that is, when I purchased it in 1982. Same color but mine had the federal black, rubber bumpers and all which I took off and bought the better looking Euro styled ones along with the front air dam. Mine is slightly modified in areas for more performance and a bit of cosmetics too with many hours into it but these cars as you know can really be a lot of fun to drive fast and were made to corner from the get go. Look forward to what you do with it. I have some pictures in my album folder if you care to see them with my upgrades. cheers, Richard
  14. I looked at putting a Jag rear end in my Elite many years ago. I even shoved one up in place to see just what needed to be done and concluded it was just to difficult a job that I didn't want to do and figured out there must be another rear end that would fit. And all your work just shows how difficult it would have been. Yours looks very well done and some great fabrication is evident but certainly a lot of work. Great job undertaking a much needed improvement IMHO! The other reason I didn't proceed with the Jag rear end is that it is some 30 lbs heavier as I remember it, but certainly much more robust and would not be over stressed in a much lighter Elite. And of course having the disc brakes is a huge benefit as far as I am concerned and getting rid of problem of rear end grease leaking past the seals onto the rear brake shoes. Mine were totally soaked in only 28,000 miles, making the rear brakes totally ineffective. Not matter what rear end one wants, to replace the original forklift rear end of the Elite, will take a bunch of clever well designed effort like you have to done here. Great looking and well done Nick ! Actually, it is easier now, to find one, than ever before because of most cars including almost every SUV have independent rear ends. AdvanTEK made by Dana, has many to pick from and these have aluminum housings and are much lighter, smaller in size and computer designed with a limited slip locking rear end. These are much more efficient in transferring power but of course would be quite a bit more expensive than the Jag unit. https://spicerparts.com/parts/axle/automotive/advantek-axles cheers, Richard
  15. One other factor that no one has as yet mentioned is the roll over center that the whole design dictates of the rear suspension on the Elite which is just above ground level. All the geometry in this design works to put it there which also makes for one VERY fast cornering car. I have taken corners so fast, I though I was afraid, in mid corner, of over doing it and may be in trouble when in fact, I wasn't even that close to the limit. No sliding whatsoever even on very old nearly worn out tires, years ago. It actually blew my friends away that were riding with me. They were simply amazed at the road manners of this car. So was I!! This is one thing I love about the Elite, in that, one can drive very enthusiastically without getting close to the limit and enjoy this car like it was made for such fast driving. It was touted, by the Lotus factory, as being able to corner 15% faster that the Europa which is saying quite a lot. Some Europa guys think this could never be but I have driven both cars and believe it. The stance of the Elite is very similar to two cars considered to be the top performers of their day, the F40 Ferrari and the M1 McLaren both of similar wheel base, height, width and weight. Lotus didn't go backward in design and you will never see an F1 car with the Europa dimensions. This is not to say the Europa is a bad design, as I think it is a great one and love driving them. It just is too narrow and small for fast corning like the Elite can do and similar more modern Lotus cars. The Elite could very well have been a two seater as it has the same wheel base of the older Corvettes and no one would think this car would ever be a 4 seater. Just imagine what the body could look like with just two seats? I think all Lotus had to do was make a two seat version of this car and sales would have gone through the roof along with a Rover aluminum V8 to match. And maybe even a rag top.
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