First of all, this isn’t something new and I’m certainly not the first. I think it’s pretty well-known that at least 2 fellow members in UK have done this conversion. I think I’m the first in Hong Kong (and possibly outside UK in general). I know there are a lot of interest in this for the V6S owners but not enough information and that is probably keeping many people away for attempting this. I hope with some tips and pointers more V6S members would feel comfortable doing this. I will share my experience and what I have gone through from start to finish.
There is no mystery to this conversion, but it is not 100% plug and play as most would expect. Like I said, there is simply very little info around. So I began by obviously reading EVERYTHING there is to this, including threads in this forum, pictures here, pictures on Facebook, pictures on IG, you name it. I also probably read the Exige Part List (like the ones you can find on DeRoure website) 100 times to try to understand what exactly are different between the V6S shifter and the Exposed Shifter. I’m no mechanic so it took me a while to digest all the graphical information. After that it was time to put together a part list. My approach was to rather have extra parts than to be missing parts because everyone knows the waiting time for Lotus parts. Unfortunately, I was STILL missing a few parts in the end, which wasn’t a big deal as I will come to it later. For you guys’ information, you will need about 70 parts, many of them little parts like bolts, screws, etc. The cost for me was just over £3,000. But like I said earlier, I ordered extra parts so actually you will be looking at around £2,500. I will have a finalized part list when I have time to cross check everything. Feel free to pm me later.
Here are some tips and obstacles.
Shift cable & Cross-gate cable
In the V6S, both the shift cable and the cross-gate cable are similar length and size. They both route from the shift lever in the cabin out to underneath the car and up from the BACK of the transmission. So if you look in your engine bay under the airbox (if you have changed to aftermarket intake it would be super easy to spot), you can see the 2 cables parallel to each other.
For the Exposed Shifter, the shift cable is significantly larger and longer than the cross-gate cable. Why? Because only the shift cable follows the same route as described above. The new cross-gate cable takes a short cut up from the FRONT of the transmission. This is not rocket science since the cables are length specific, meaning there is really only one way to install them.
There are 3 cables in the picture because I ordered an extra cross-gate cable. Why? Because on the Lotus part list, there is a cross-gate cable for “isolated type”. There is absolutely no other information provided. It does not say which model it is for, just nothing. So if I was to guess, I suspect this “isolated type” cross-gate cable is for 410/430 charge-cooled cars. Perhaps those with 410/430 can confirm this. Anyways, you DO NOT need the cross-gate cable “isolated type” and the associated bracket!
Center Console & Parking Brake
First problem here, the hazard switch. You will need the new hazard switch, which is completely different in size and style. The plugs are different. I have yet to figure out what I want to do here. For now I just zip-tied the old switch on the side so at least I have working hazard lights.
Then there are the parking brake bezel, gaiter and retainer. Apparently these 3 items are different between the models but in the part list there are no separate part numbers for them. I was still able to fit them to the car but now as you can see I have a huge hole.
Next is the alloy cover tunnel. I’m not sure whether again there is a separate part number for the newer cars. So this cover tunnel did not line up perfectly with the front upper and lower center console pieces. Some trimming and adjustment to center console pieces are needed here. I don’t recommend cutting the alloy cover tunnel. Also a small imperfection is that the front lower console piece isn’t 100% flush on the right, meaning it is “flapping” out a bit. It’s not noticeable unless you press on it. I suspect this may be due to the material flexing during shipping.
Next is the the harness guide underneath the alloy cover tunnel. This is completely different. In the V6S, this guide goes “all the way” to the grooved (or raised) section of the aluminium tub. But on the newer cars, it stops just short of reaching the grooved section. The reason for this is the front console for the Exposed Shifter requires a mounting assembly that looks like a rectangular block. This mounting block will require drilling 2 holes through the aluminium tub. A simple solution was to cut up the mounting block into 2 pieces. Again, I do not recommend cutting away the metal harness guide.
At last, it is good to remind my fellow members that you will need to drill 4 holes to mount the Exposed Shifter mechanism. Again, not rocket science as you just need to line everything up from the parking brake assembly.
The waiting time on some of the parts are ridiculous. I managed to finish the conversion but not without some improvising. The 2 mounting clamps for the shift cable and cross-gate cable have no ETA. I had to make a judgment call and used zip-ties for now. These 2 clamps have the same part number. I thought if the same clamp is used on 2 very different sized cables, then the clamp cannot be a critical mounting piece. All it is probably doing is to “hold” the cables down so they don’t pop out of their respective mounts.
I was also missing the ball type end piece for the shift cable that attaches to the shift lever. This piece is not a separate part on the part list and should have came with the shift cable. While it is being shipped to me as we speak, I went ahead and found some alternative and made it work.
Lastly, the shift knob. There is only one part number for the shift knob (maybe the part list that I was referring to wasn’t the most updated version). But as I quickly found out, the threads were different! The new shift knob is M12x1.25. What the hell Lotus! Luckily, I have a Subaru STI OEM shift knob lying around that I could use. Best part is the shift knob has a waiting time of almost 6 months.
Anyhow, here is the finished product vs the old one.