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Elite 4.9

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  1. 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.

  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. 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. 

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Originally an all aluminum 1961 Buick engine displacing 215 cid now punched (stroked and bored) out to 298 cubic inches or 4.9L.

    Balanced and blueprinted making 310 hp/ 360 lbs ft of torque. 3.4 stroke up from 2.8 inches and an over bore to 3.6 inch bore. The lightest V8 ever to come out of Detroit.

  11. Love the look of the PPG paint I used. Looks even better in person. 

    But the real addition is a high tech product for paint protection, in place of wax, is the "Dri-Wash n Guard" product I have used since the mid 80's which is far superior to wax for uv protection as well as ease of application. Not to mention it is very slick and water and dirt fly off in a rain storm.

    Also great for plastic, chrome and the best window cleaner I have ever found. Has to be seen to believe just how great this product is. Makes a fair paint job look good and a good paint looks almost wet. Great product if you are selling a vehicle.

  12. This is another view which I like very much. I remember when the Elite came out, some of the first photos taken where from this angle. Very aerodynamic with a low drag coefficient of .30..... almost as slick as the original Elite of .29

    What is interesting is that the stance, wheel base and weight of this car is very close to the Ferrari F40 and the McLaren F1 which both follow shortly after the Elite was made and both were considered state of the art of high performance.

    Lotus got it right for fast motoring around corners were this car greatly excels. Lotus factory said it would out handle the Europa by 15%.

    Basic chassis design was very similar for all street cars Lotus made from the Elan through the Esprit. This chassis even dates back to the racing Lotus 30 which, in the day, broke the track record at Silverstone, even faster than the F1 cars!

  13. Painting all of the original polished aluminum trim around the doors and windshield IMHO greatly improve the lines and look of the Elite and the Lotus factory agreed with the last version of this car, the Excel having this improvement.

    I accidentally found this to be the answer to my problem of dented trim which was easily fixed when painted rather than the $2,000 dollar replacement cost.

  14. All Elem wood was finished with multiple coats of PPG clear automotive paint. Connolly leather interior is really what this car needed from the start. In 1974 with the fake news of the shortage, the oil companies made Lotus put a small 2.0 liter engine fearing expensive fuel prices would hurt their new line. Instead, they should have made a small V8 or even a V6 for such an expensive sports GT car. Expensive as the Elite was to make, the factory had to find ways to lower the cost and quality of fit and finish suffered a lot as did the choice of drive train components. Why else is the price of these cars so cheap? No other Lotus has the falling out that the second generation 4 seat Lotus has. A real shame as this car out handles all of the Lotus street cars to it's inception and even is much easier to drive at the limit than the mid engine cars to follow. 

  15. Very clean looking with what you have done.

    There is a guy in Tacoma, Jerry Foley who used to have the fiberglass molds for the European bumpers. But you have shortened the Elite with your mods which was needed with the fed bumpers which IMHO hurt the sleek look of the Elite.

    How much power equivalent to a gas engine does your electric motors make? 

    Not too far away from each other. Ever get down to Seattle with your car?

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