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Elite 4.9

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  1. 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.


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  2. 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



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  3. 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.



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  4. Quote

    Do they have to come out Tom? Be good to use new ones in your replacement block.

    - Jeremy


    One should always use new studs and head bolts as these bolts are stretched when first torqued and can not clamp, once again, when re-torqued any where close to what they did when new. NEVER reuse these parts including rod bolts. Ask any pro engine builder and he will tell you the same.



    • Like 1
  5. The, GM for my car's air con added 135 lbs extra so a stiffer spring was needed. Doesn't sound like much but these cars are softly sprung with almost 8 inches in travel. I would guess it would be better to be a little stiffer than a too soft spring. I removed my air con but added a 4 gallon, 4 core copper radiator, to cool my V8 engine which by the way is almost the same weight as the original 4 cylinder.

    With the difference from removing the air con and adding some more weight in the front nose of the car, I didn't notice it being too stiff although I think I am lighter.  Not sure what kind of driving you do but if you use these cars as they were designed to be driven, then a stiffer spring seems to me the way to go if you had a choice





    Well my rewire continues. Once again the previous owner has left me scratching my head. The side markers on the federal cars, are they wired as turn signals or just parking lights? Mine were cut when the Euro bumpers were installed.

    I have the 110th built, a 1974 federal Elite, and I believe the side markers are just running lights and reflectors. 

    I didn't like the look or the low quality of the markers so I  removed them and fill in so as to look like the European version. Too cheesy for me. For side lights, I have been thinking of hiding some lights inside the wheel wells up high. You can probably see this in the factory manual's electrical wiring diagram to make sure.



  7. Hey Michael,

    Working on these cars is challenging at times but this can be done if you can slide the seat back and reclined so then you can access it by standing on your head so to speak. That is, putting yourself in the seat upside down with your head just below the pedals and your feet and legs over the seat. You can then see and change out the end of the cable in it's holder. It is awkward but really not that difficult but it does make the blood run more to your head.

    If you are a big guy, it may be that you will need to take out the seat first.

    I wouldn't take out the dash. 

    You may be easier if you get a small kid to do this as there isn't any extra space down there as you already know.




  8. Quote

    I brought a solonoid used in central locking systems a couple of years ago. My thought was to maintainthe interior pull and mount the solonoid in the boot by the offside rear light via a pulley to the rear hatch lever. A second cable will need to be attached via a second fixing hole that will need to be drilled into the lever in a position that matches the pull of the solonoid. The real issue is whether the solonoid I brought for this purpose has enough grunt to pull the lever... If not a starter solonoid will definitely have the power.

    I like the idea of having two cables, so a redundant system, should something break!

    Hi Mike, 

    Owning one of these cars for a long period of time and living with some of the after though ideas to make it easier to do so can call for and imagination like with the soleniod. Looks like a good idea to me.

    Under this subject, my Elite takes quite a pull on the cable lever to open the rear window,

    so I decided a fail safe system was needed. Take a look at the hole I drilled in the bottom of the boot, big enough for your hand and close enough to reach the rear hatch lever.

    This gives a fail safe way to make sure you have access no mater what.  The original  system,  to me,  looks like possible trouble. My fix is still secure because someone would have to drop the rear tire to access the wing nut to access the small safety door in the floor of the boot and above the spare tire.

    I am going to do the same thing with the bonnet latches. Drilling a hole in the fire wall behind and just below the latches with a small handle connected to another cable attached to the latch. One for each side so in the event of the normal lever that opens the bonnet doesn't work one still has access to the engine bay from under the dash.



  9. Hey Rob,

    As far as the paint is concerned, these cars didn't come with, what is now, top of the line acrylic urethane's which are a much better paint, so any top paint shop would know how to paint your car and it won't be as per original unless you want to put on the same enamel as the factory did. Most new cars use these urethane's which are shinny er and cost way more by the way. 

    In 1990, I spent around $1,000 US dollars just for materials using top PPG urethane paints. probably double that by now or more.

    You say the paint is crazed. If you have stress cracks ( most all Lotus glass fiber cars with any miles on them will have) these cracks must be ground down and refilled and repaired other wise these same cracks will show up in short order after your expensive paint job in just a few miles on the road. Sounds like you may need to take all the paint off down to the gel coat to get the best job.

    And yeah, the polished aluminum windshield molding is not easy to take off and put back without damaging it. That is why I painted all of the my window moldings, body color, as they were damaged in the first place and cost way too much to replace. 

    I think it looks much better and so did the Lotus factory which changed the same in the Excel and all the rest of the line after that. You can check out what that looks like on my car in my picture albums if you like.

    The wheels just take a lot effort even with a machine to make them look their best. Way too much effort and time if done by hand.

    And, there are no good high performance tires available for the original 14 wheels in a 60 series tire.

    No one makes any high rated tires required if you want to drive it as the car was designed. I updated to a 16 inch rim so I could put on some z rated high performance tires. You will need to go to a 45 series tire if you use a 16 inch rim especially in the front with a max of 205 mm wide tire. You need good tires for the heat that can be generated by high speed, fast cornering of these great handling cars.

    Jacking points that I use are the front cross member which is steel and the rear end which will easily handle the weight. But you can use a block of wood near the jacking spots too quite easily. You will need a really low profile floor jack to get under the front end to jack it. I drive up on a 2x6 piece of wood under the front tire to access my floor jack at the front. I also use a piece of wood on my floor jack for the rear end but it isn't necessary here. Just makes it so you don't scratch up the rear end so much.

    The jacking points on the car are all on glass fiber so some care must be taken here and I wouldn't use jack stands without some soft wood next to the car. Car ramps work well here as well but get in the way at times and of course won't work if you want to take off the wheels.

    These are just some of the concerns and ways that I have addressed them in my 35 years of owning and working on my '74 Elite. JMHO

    hope this helps,



  10. Really nice to see all your progress Simon. An amazing amount of work for sure but then you have something really nice and a worthwhile project. 

    I could almost smell the grey primer when I saw your pictures in that stage even though I painted mine many years ago. The Elite even looks good in primer.

    It is obvious you are having a good time here. Way cool and the color is also looking mighty nice!

    Getting back to changing out the vacuum powered headlamp pods: I changed mine out for the same reasons you mentioned and I used some electric lifts from a Triumph TR8. Worked for me   and I had them on hand from a wreck TR8 I restored back to health. lol

    nice to see such loving care you are taking. keep it going.

    Thanks for all your pics and for posting your project here. enjoying it a lot from the other side of the pond.


    • Thanks 1
  11. I have K & N on all my rigs.They simply are a superior filter trapping more dirt than paper. Way better protection and are a life time filter with a million mile guarantee. Plus you will never have to throw it away making it a "green" filter.

    And the best part is that it will give you more performance in power and less wear in your engine and better fuel mileage because they flow more air, less restriction.  Really, why would anyone not use it for these reasons. It you drive a lot it will easily pay for itself in fuel savings alone. 

    I will never buy another paper filter for my cars.

    Just my take and I have been using them for many years. 



  12. It will be much easier to drop the differential to get to the brakes so you can remove the wheel cylinders. Not sure you can even do it with the rear end still in place as there simply isn't much room . First time is a little intimidating but I can get mine down in about 30 minutes.

    But you need the proper tools. To drop the rear end, the 1/2 inch bolts holding the half shafts to the drums must come off first which is done by jacking the car and rotating the wheels to access the 4 bolts on each side as you slowly turn them out. I think these are a grade 8 bolt so don't use cheap ones if you replace them for any reason. Not hard but somewhat time consuming as they are not real easy to get to. I use an open end wrench here as there is not even enough room for a box end wrench. 

    Then to get the rear end to be free from the suspension, one must take out the long bottom bolts (one on each side ) The best way I found was to use an air powered rivet gun as a hammer ( flat end attachment on the rivet gun for counter sink, flush finished rivets one would use for smooth sheet metal), and slowly drive out the long bolts once you take off the nut on the end instead of using a regular hammer.

    This puts only small amounts of pressure on the long bolts and is done with the help of a smaller diameter rod that will go through, driving out the long bolts that hold everything together back there. It also is easier on the end of the long bolt so as not to damage the end threads so one can reuse it putting it back together.

    Also, the emergency brake cable attachment must be unhooked by taking out the cotter pin on each side back side of the mounting plate opposite side of the drums. A trick to make it much easier to remove the pins is by cutting holes in the body, behind the back seats to access the cotter pins. This is the most difficult part if you don't cut the holes for access.

    The rest is not all that difficult really.




    • Like 1
  13. Looks great. love the color. Nice job so far and excellent progress in a difficult task.

    Are you going for leather interior?  

    Nice looking garage too.

    keep us informed if you would.

    love to see progress like this with so much work already done. 

    Should be a real looker when done.



  14. They are all slow unfortunately. This is a weak link in this car and the joke is that when Lotus built the car, they lowered the wiper motor from the ceiling and built the car around it as it is buried deep inside the dash. Not a particularly fun job to replace. Probably a good idea to use sparingly.




  15. Thanks Ben. Lots of work but obviously some like auto restoration especially on a car that is worth it, like the Elite. As they say, "cleanliness is next to Godliness."  Nothing looks better IMHO when a good deal of effort is done as it shows. Like you are doing. Nice to see your progress. Attention to detail really shows and it makes me just keep going cleaning up other areas and making my car more enjoyable for me. 

    Just a note on rust removable. White vinegar is an excellent, cheap, none threatening substance that will completely remove all rust if you can get your part in a soaking tub of some kind, I usually mix it with 50% water. Works great for engine blocks and other things you don't want to use a sandblaster or other abrasive tools. Just takes some time and won't harm cast iron one bit. Only takes more time than you want if you are in a big hurry.


  16. Hey Ben, 

    Great start you have there with lots of room. Makes for a much easier job as there is no such thing as a too big garage. lol

     Getting right down to it with great progres. I also like the 17 inch wheels. You may find it necessary to go with a larger wheel when you see just how pathetic the tire selection is today with the 14's . That is why I went the 16 wheels, as there is a much better selection of high performance tires if you get a larger wheel.

    Lotus put high performance tires on originally but there aren't any 14 inch tires, like that, available today. So I wanted to experience the forte of this car which is handling thus a need to go with a larger wheel to find such tires to match.

    Great pictures of your progress. Love to see more so don't forget to keep us posted.




  17. Hi Simon,

    Because this cable has so much pressure on it requiring a heavy pedal is why it is a weak link with the Elite so I have decided to go the hydraulic method as well and I think this is the way to go even if I haven't had one of the original cables break yet.

    Even though I now have a modified Buick 215 V8 aluminum engine in place of the 907 in my '74 Elite with a stiffer clutch to accept the more powerful engine, there is simply way too much pressure required to depress the clutch and no one today uses anything but hydraulics, as far as I know, so they are very reliable and isn't that what we want in this very enjoyable car.

    Plus, the cable traveling through the engine bay is ugly and the location can't be modified even a little. I know some don't care about what it looks like in their engine bay but for me neatness counts in my car.

    This is a modification I have been thinking about for a long time in my 35 years of owning and modifying my Elite for a more enjoyable ride and improved reliability.




  18. Hey Paul,

    I just did a quick google search on finding a 907 engine and there are, I would think many to pick from close at hand to you. I sold one to another BC guy a few years back for his Eclat. 

    Here is a link to Jensen Healey sports cars and spairs.

    These guys are state side and car parts all over here in the US. You could probably get a whole care for $1,500. One just sold in CA for $1,400 !

    One of the best places, in the US for used cars and parts, is Hemming motor news.

    This is like a Bible monthly publication for cars and parts and is like a good sized phone book in size. It is such a large nation wide publication for finding or helping one restore his auto that I use it as a guide for prices of all makes. 

    I am sure you can save some cash here without going using our UK friends for help and paying extra for shipping. There are probably more engines like you want here in the states and close by you than any place else.





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