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Elite 4.9

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  1. Why people want to even think of altering or modifying any Lotus suspension is beyond me. Just because Lotus was so innovative in F1, that for many years, Lotus was so far ahead of the rest that the races became a race for, who was going to take second. Lotus road cars are a direct derivative of their racing cars so any modification that alters anything that has to do with handling should be an obvious no. no if you ask me. Why else do people buy these cars if not for the way the are designed with road manners a cut above the rest. Great fun ! These Elites give the impression of a larger car ( Body shape to allow 4 seats and could easily been a two seater...same wheel base as many Corvettes of the past.) but are so well sorted and designed to give much pleasure to those of us who love to corner fast.....much faster than most anyone drives simply, because you have to try really hard to find the limit in the Elite. I installed a Buick V-8 but it is as light as the original 907 Lotus twincam otherwise I wouldn't have done it because the sensitiveness of the front end springs, as they would have to be changed for most larger engines. And my Elite is already too low for some parking lot speed bumps so why would you want to lower it and mess up a car that is simply mind blowing in its' road manners especially around corners. I have made a good number of improvements and modifications on my Elite but this was one thing I really loved about the Elite, the fact that I didn't have to lower it because it already comes that way from the factory. Cheers, Richard
  2. What is really quite difficult to believe is that before production started, Lotus built two early Elite versions with the English version of the Buick 215, the Rover V8 at 4 L. Everyone liked it but Colin wanted an all English car and he said that the 4 liter didn't produce any more hp than the two liter. Twice the cubic inches and no more power or that it didn't make that much difference. Right ! Mine, with a 4.9 liter Buick (298 cid) , is very fun to drive. Much of the time, having so much torque in this engine, there is no need to down shift for a good boost in speed, just a little more stab on the gas petal is all that is needed. And it is way different than the original two liter Lotus twincam, by a long ways.! Still it can deliver over 30 mpg US.
  3. I always add Lucas oil stabilizer to my oil which is a thick, VERY sticky additive made for all engines. It not only will increase your oil pressure but will also eliminates dry starts when cold and sticks to all bearing and rotating engine parts to make them last longer. It will also give you better cylinder ring sealing which will raise your compression slightly and give you more power and mileage. I have used it for many years in all my engines and the big truckers swear buy it, buying it by the gallon. A friend with a Detroit diesel ran his 14.8 liter straight six to a million miles before overhauling it ! He also got up to 8.7 mpg (US) Pretty good for such a large loaded truck powered semi engine. It also allows motor oils a higher degree of lubricity which reduces oil consumption. Great stuff !! It has been around for a long time and has been tops in my book for many years and I never drive without it. cheers, Richard
  4. yes please include me for best recovery and thanks for all the work in the past done for our enjoyment. Bought my '74 Elite in 1984 and still own it. ATB, Richard
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13. This same design was no doubt copied from the Ford GT which took out the best the Ferrari had to offer.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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. cheers, Richard
  19. 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.
  20. If you follow Lotus's F1 evolution in chassis design in the later part of the 1960's, you would see they went from a F1 design that the Elite had a close copy of, to a design that had a top link and didn't use the drive shafts as upper links. It is a sound design and does work better but uses more parts and is more complicated. And most other F1 constructor teams followed suit as did much of the road production design of suspensions in sports cars and now in many other cars as well. It just works very well but it took Lotus to figure it all out early on. Lotus had another company, other than their road car production company, that did work for many other car manufactures of street type cars and help them figure out their suspension designs as well. Not sure this Lotus company still exists and are still in business but, some companies actually bought Lotus like Toyota, and GM to finely get a similar system working in their street cars. The Toyota MR2 and the Corvette were just two customers that benefited and used Lotus Engineering to help them in suspension design. Smart move on their part for sure.
  21. You are right Pete in that, anything can be made better and it all starts in ones head thinking about it. Lotus did have great suspension and chassis designs as proven in their domination of grandprix cars and these designs ended up, many times, in their road cars thankfully. But you need to remember, a racing car only needs to stay together for, at best, a couple hundred miles to be successful and Colin only built street cars to subsidize his racing program. These are not 100,000+ mile commuter type autos. They will need much more maintenance that most road cars that are built to get to work and the grocery store and back home. Not to go out and be Joe racer on the back highways like many who buy these types of cars want to do. It would take a bunch to improve the road holding design and put it on an Elite, IMHO, for one simple reason and that would be that the pickup points on the chassis are very difficult to change as it is so light weight in construction being mostly thin sheet metal. The reason the Elite and many other Lotus street cars can hold the road so well in the corners is that the whole of design keeps the tire flat on the road giving maximum tire contact (adhesion) with the road so as to take advantage of the whole width of the tire during hard cornering. Hey.... Lotus cars being so finely tuned are the reason many, including me, buy Lotus street cars in the first place. I have even, in the past, tried to buy a couple of Lotus racing cars but the deals fell through not being my fault whatsoever, sad to say. A Lotus 11 and a 30. Dirt cheap too in the day !!
  22. Not sure why you would want to alter the rear suspension design on the Elite. I have driven mine into corners that few cars could do as fast and as comfortable with ease of control that can only be described as awesome. And most people, owning this car, seldom will reach the limit and really can't with the tires available today on the 14 inch rims it came with. That is why I went to a 16 inch wheel to be able to buy Z rated high performance tires. I realize that these wheel bearings do take a lot of stress and have read where they many times only go around 25,000 miles before needing to be replaced. I have yet to replace mine but think that I may go to a larger bearing, in the future, like used on the older Jags and Corvettes as they are the same design and don't have any issues like the Elite does. I think replacing larger u-joints as well for the same reason is a good idea especially if you have more power like I have and want to use it. Others have tried to alter the design with an upper link but it doesn't work all that well from what I have read. These cars where made and fine tuned to be driven fast and Colin's favorite driver was an Elite. This is the same rear end design that was used on Lotus's F1 cars in the early 60's so it is a tried and proven system even though it may be somewhat flawed. Like many flawed or weak designed things on the Elite, one can try and fix them or just live with them and fix it when it breaks. Talking about it and making a change for the better are two different things and I would be surprised if anyone could make an improvement with this design without really making a number of major changes in the total package design and make an improvement from a company that dominated F1 grandprix racing during the time this car was produced. Many have tried and I don't know of any that have been successful. Just my two cents. Richard
  23. With one wiper, at least on my '74 Elite, it certainly puts more wear and tear on the wiper motor. Not sure if your Excel was built the exact same way as early Elites but the joke is they dropped the wiper motor from the ceiling and then built the car around it. And as you found out this part is buried deep inside the beast. Might be a good idea to use rain-X so wipers can be use sparingly. Living in the Seattle area, where we get a lot of rainy days, like you probably do, I don't take out my Elite so I really haven't used the wipers hardly at all. Probably afraid of the above original story I heard many years ago is partly to blame and well, I don't like getting my car dirty. lol cheers, Richard
  24. Interesting topic. My Elite was the 110th built in '74 and had a single vented tube ( connecting both sides of the tank ) running all the way to the engine and into a carbon filled canister before sucking it into the engine which was common practice back in the day. Didn't want that same design so just vented them outside the filler caps on both sides. cheers, Richard
  25. The thing to do is to also buy a headlight relay so that the dash switch only sees the current needed to turn it on, and lets the relay handle all the current that your headlights are demanding. If you have after market more powerful headlights bulbs ( brighter than originals that came with the car and many update headlights for obvious reasons ) then it puts more energy through the switch but with a relay, the switch is protected from excess current it was never designed to handle. This is an easy part to add and saves your switch and maybe even your car from starting on fire. I also put the relay close to the headlights with short wires needed which cuts down voltage drop. I also use this for driving lights and air horns as they many times draw a good amount of current which the relays can easily handle. cheers, Richard.
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