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saggitarius

LS4 Engine into Esprit S2

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Hi there Lotus friends in the great cyberspace

I'm relatively new to this forum, but I've been a Esprit fan since Roger More hit the big screens with the S1, and a fanatic since I tried a friends S 2.2 some years later. The cost issues and really lethal Norwegian import taxes have kept me from buying one until a couple of years back, when I bought a REAL project 1979 S2, consisting of a bare frame, an empty body without doors or lids and an engine in need of a major rebuild.

EnglandKarossPlen02.jpg

EnglandOvernatting02.jpg

When I started really reading the forums and stories of reliability issues and parts prices I decided to investigate into other possible alternatives than rebuilding the 2.2 liter engine.

I decided to find a modern high capasity engine, complete with engine management and enough power out of the box to get the car up and running in a decent way. It's always possible to uprate it along the way. And that's why I prefer to use an engine that has I price tag within sensible limits, not only when buing, but also when you have to repair or upgrade it in the future.

There was a lot of engines on my list:

The V6 Duratec that has been covered in another topic in these pages. (And what a beautiful engine and beautiful job that was done with the transplant) These engines can be had with several different logos, both European and US Ford, Mazda and Jaguar.

Then there's the V8 Duratec that sits in other Jaguars.

The Alfa V6 - preferably the four cam version would make a fun installation, comes with up to 235 HP from Alfa.

Another cheap and greatly overlooked engine is the Vauxhall / Opel four cam V6.

I was also in contact with a bloke in Sweden who had a long block BMW S62 engine with a blown head gasket for sale. This is the 400 HP V8 that propells the E39 BMW M5, and I was very tempted, but knew that engine needs a gruesom amount of electronic gadgetery to work properly, and since the head gaskets are made from steel there will probably be something really wrong with it internally to make them blow. And that's when your wallet starts to regret what you did.

The Audi V8 was high up on the list for a long time, and I was reading the Hilly story with great interest. I even downloaded it to my computer for future use, as I see that he has dealth a lot of things that I may have to to as well even if I went for another engine in the end. Before that happened I put in a bid on eBay for an Audi 40 valve RS6 engine that needed a rebuild. But again, sanity crept in and a chickened out before I got cought in that expensive trap.

The one that I ended up searching for on eBay was the (holding my breath on this) General Motors LS1 engine that saw the light of day in the 1997 Corvette. The LS series of engines has been extended a lot during the years since its conseption, first with the LS2 and LS6, and then LS7, LS3, LS9 etc. I bid on several, but they were either too expensive or too worn down, until I discovered an ad for an LS4. Never heard of that one, so I went to Wikipedia. There I found that the LS4 was a 5.3 litre version installed TRANSVERSELY in FRONT WHEEL DRIVE Chevrolets and Pontiacs!!! Crazy Americans :-)

But the more inportant part was that due to the redused space in those intallations, GM had made two important alterations:

The auxillary drive package on the front of the engine seems to be sticking out half a metre from the front of the engine on normal V8s. On the LS4 this was made into a very shallow package, with only one belt placed directly in front of the front of the engine and water pump, alternator, PS pump and AC compressor pointing BACKWARDS along the sides of the engine.

The other thing was that the inlet was facing the other way around on the engine, so the throttle body ends up facing backwards when you install the engine longitudinally. Much better than having it roaring directly in your ear :-)

To sun everything up, I bought one from a 2006 model Pontiac that had run around 50 000 miles, complete with inlets, exhaust, all sender units, coil packs and a lot of other bits, and had it sent from the US to Norway at a very reasonable price.

Motor_LS4_AnkomstUtpakking4.jpg

With my Lotus project, I didn't even get a gear box, so I was completely free on that issue. I have read several issues about this as well. Some people think both the Citroen- and the Renault sourced versions are up to the tasks of propelling the car with big engines istalled, whole others find them lacking even for normal Lotus istallations.

I bought something different: A six speed trans from a 2005 Audi A6 2 litre TDI. I believe that if it's built to handle the torque of a modern TDI it can take a somewhat stronger V8. Maybe unless I practise 5000 rpm clutch dumps.....

And since the V8 is not as high revving as the sports engines from BMW or Audi, the diesel box may be more suited to the rev range.

Now that both the engine and trans is lurking in my garage there is really no way back :-)

And I have also got some way of collecting other parts needed for the build.

See you soon, but this won't be a weekly update thread I'm afraid. From previous experience I expect it to take 3-4 years before the thing is up and running.

But I'm REALLY looking forward to it :-)))

Edited by saggitarius

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Geir,that's a fantastic post and a very ambitious project....I salute you sir! Sounds very promising though and you have obviously

thought this through. best of luck and don't be a stranger...! Keep us inforned and tap into the knowledge and experience available

to you on this forum. thumbsup.gif

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:)

I don't have any doubts about making it in the end. But the time scale may be optimistic. A year ago I finished a project that I planned should take one or maybe two years. It took 11. But that was including moving house twice, going through a divorce, and having to build a new garage alone also twice. That was an old Marcos that needed a complete restoration down to the last nut and bolt. And this summer I've been enjoying the use of it.

With the Lotus it will go quicker than those eleven years, and I also found a person in the US who specializes in making adapter plates, and ordered one for this combination. He then supplies the adapter, flywheel, clutch and starter motor at a reasonable price.

I know it's a bit like cheating, but I needed the flywheel, clutch and starter any way so thought this was OK.

It's still going to be a couple of other issues to find out about though.

But to me, working with computers and spread sheets for a living, going into the garage and getting oily is a recreation, like charging my personal batteries.

And I must say, reading the threads in this forum gives me a good feeling about the Lotus fraternity. Loots of good and friendly advice and lots of really ambitious projects. But one thing I'm really impressed about is the short time people use to finish really grand projects.

I need to take my time to get there.

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Geir

Fantastic another monster being built! Welcome to the club im about to embark on my engine conversion. Keep us posted on updates. Lots of pictures even if its just an engine on the hoist hovering above the chassis. Post them here were all keen to see what others are up to. I have not been a member that long but everyone on here is great.

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hi there

well i would say hats off to you and that is an interesting engine - is it very popular in the states ?

have you got a chassis yet and doors etc ?

let us know and furthermore if you need any help -there is no place like this forum for that.

good luck

richard


Technically sound ...Theoretically poked !

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Thanks for the support. I may need it :-). I was also under the impression that most Lotus fanatics were really fanatic about the originality of their rides as well. But it seems I found the right part of the forum this time.

One answer and some thoughts

The chassis

The one that came with the car was probably the original S2 one, but since this was made before Lotus started to galvanize their frames, it was not fun to look at:

RammeOppbevaringNov06.jpg

(hanging from the ceiling of my newly built garage)

On the trailer - ready to go to the tip with some other rubbish

EspritS2Ramme07.jpg

EspritS2Ramme05.jpg

EspritS2Ramme04.jpg

EspritS2Ramme01.jpg

Most of the rust was only on the surface, but some of it had gone deeper, and I also found more than one patch that had been welded to the front crossmember.

So I decided this was not what I wanted for a high performance sports car. The thought had also come sneaking about converting the rear suspension to S3 specs with upper links. I went to eBay for the best parts of a year, looking mostly for S3 parts cars, where I could get a complete chassis, doors, lids and lots of other small parts that I needed. But in the end I bought a more or less spotless bare frame for £250. But how do I get it home from England to Norway? The weight of the thing is not bad (It's a real Lotus) - it should be possible to stack it on top of my "civilian" car with a decent rack. Then I was in for a small shock: The ferry companies wanted to charge me more than £800 to freight me and my car from Norway to England and back. That's a provocation in my book, so what other possibilities are there?

What I ended up doing was buying a plane ticket for £40 (Ryan Air) to Stansted outside London, bought a spotless 1992 Volvo 940 SE in Maidstone for £375 off eBay - including an old roof rack - drove it to Leeds, picked up the frame

ChassisHenting_00.jpg

took a detour to Bradford to pick up a Vauxhall XE engine that it would rude not to buy at the price

ChassisHenting_06.jpg

drove on to Dover (had a high speed puncture on the M1 motorway but the speed of the wheel kept the tyre in shape until I stopped and had it changed), caught a ferry to Calais and drove up through France, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and back to Norway. Then I used the autumn to dismantle and sell the Volvo as parts, financing the trip and Lotus frame.

That Vauxhall engine is a gem by the way. Made by Cosworth, using the two litre Vauxhall/Opel block and with forged rods and pistons and a head construction that is pure racing. You can get nearly 200 HP from it without taking it apart. I mean even without changing the cams or valves. Just get a set of throttle bodies, a decent exhaust and a new ECU. It even has a Cosworth name: Cosworth KBA. But that's a small detour, even if at one pint I thought of putting into the Esprit - with a modern supercharger....

But yes the doors and lids are also in house by now. With a story of their own that I'll come back to later

Edited by saggitarius

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Good luck with this project it's going to be an interesting read over the next month and years (?).

By the way they is a guy who posts on her as Wookie, a friend of Sparky and many others, who I suspect would be very interested to hear about your Marcos project. Give him a PM if you get the chance.


Normally Aspirated - and lovin' it!

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Hi Geir,

Great project, I'd like to do something like this myself one day. Only one question; What is your plan with respect to the authorities? They are usually not very fond of these kind of conversions. Will you do a brake upgrade for example?

Bjorn


Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today - James Dean

"If it isn't leaking, it's empty" - Comment from a British sportscar enthusiast after being made aware of an oil slick under his car

Lotus Car Club Norway (LCCN) - lccn.no

LCCN on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/LotusCarClubNorway/

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Yes there will be a brake upgrade. But as you say I have to be careful to avoid being hit by government rules.

The basic ideas - which is already in motion - is

1

To install the complete suspension from an S4 - with outboard brakes at the rear. All the rear links an radius arms in my custody already and will get the uprights/hub carriers soon. The fronts will follow. Then it's a question of using more powerful brakes from later versions, like the S300.

2

The engine will - at the time of inspection - have a set of red coil covers that resemblance the top of the later Lotus V8.

This would look nice with red inlets and coil covers with LOTUS spelling in silver don't you think? Instead of the "5.3l V8 active fuel management"

LS4.jpg

3

When showing up with the car for an inspection, I'll have to "play innocent" about the origin of the engine - pretending it's a Lotus - and point to the fact that the engine, chassis, suspension and brakes are basically from a later Lotus (and bringing documentation about some of those items)

4

If that doesn't work, I'll have to go in an other direction from there.

Always an optimist :)

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Good luck Geir,

Looks like you an interesting project on the go mate, keep us posted and hope it gets back on the road soon. Im pretty sure you will end up with a great car with the suspension upgrades and v8 in the back, what sort of bhp can that engine produce and can aftermarket up grades be got hold of.

Best of luck with the project and look forwards to the updates on your progress :)

Regards danny


A

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If you need help with brakes/suspension try Henrik at www.chassisteknikk.no. He knows almost all there is to know about Lotus Esprits and is a specialist on brakes and suspension. He can also supply you with products from


Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today - James Dean

"If it isn't leaking, it's empty" - Comment from a British sportscar enthusiast after being made aware of an oil slick under his car

Lotus Car Club Norway (LCCN) - lccn.no

LCCN on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/LotusCarClubNorway/

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Awesome, what a brilliant project. Welcome on board Geir, I'll look forward to reading this thread :)


88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

Evora NA

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Be careful with the authorities, Geir! With the change of frame and engine, you absolutely run the risk of having to register the car as "oppbygd" rather than "ombygd", especially since it hasn't been registered in Norway before. I would think it would be a lot easier to get through all the red tapes if you first threw it together with a 912 engine, however shabby, just to scrape through initial registration. Then you could start altering stuff. Pick up the phone and call Stein Arne Lindvall at Heistad, he knows how to get through the red tape.

Would be a shame if you end up with a trailer-around-only Esprit.

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The LS4, including its auxillaries has 303 hp and 323 lb:ft / 438 Nm out of the box, and since the exhaust looks a bit restrictive in its front wheel drive form, with one side going over the gearbox and connecting to the manifold at the other side, I'll have to do some research there.

These engines have something called "displacement on demand" which basically shuts down half the cylinder when cruising on light throttle. The process is controlled by the factory ECU, which alters the hydraulic pressure in the valve lifters to keep the valves closed and stops the signals to the injectors. This is a little bit to much hazzle for me, and I'm going to use a normal modern ECU on normal delivery.

I expect the engine to deliver in the region of 310 hp when staring up. But since it's a part of the generation IV engines from GM, most items are interchangable, like camshafts, lifters, crankshafts, rods, pistons etc. Which means there is almost no limit to the power you can extract. GM themselves has a seven liter version (LS7) with 505 hp and 417 lb:ft / 640 Nm and a supercharged 6.2 liter version (LS9) in the Corvette ZR1, with 638 hp and 604 lb:ft / 819 Nm of torque. Tuning companies have managed much more, and this engine series has become very popular with tuners, hot rodders and street car builders in the States.

However, I don't have any plans of going berserk with this. I believe that the LS4 with its big valve heads from the LS6 will be good for a start, that over 300 HP in a a car as light and nimble as an Esprit should give a lot of driving pleasure. And then it's a question of subtle improvements if I find myself left behind by too many cars on the track days to come.

And as some of the other Norwegians here say it might very well be smart to check things out with the technical authorities before going too far with the work.

But worst case will be a track day special :)

Edited by saggitarius

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Can you share were in the USA you used for making adapter plates, etc for this combination of engine and transaxle?

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What a fascinating project. No one could complain at you not trying to put the car back together as a standard car. With part of a bare body and a chassis as a starting point you are going to end up with something special.

Of course, you are completely mad and I think that's the only way you are going to get through this. Going to be a fascinating journey.


S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE

 

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Can you share were in the USA you used for making adapter plates, etc for this combination of engine and transaxle?

Yes - that should not be a problem. I found him on the GT40 forum where they obviously have some of the same needs as Esprit owners have if going away from the original Lotus/Renault or Lotus/Citro

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Looks like there is another mad man on the forum. I have spent 2 years so far and still seem to be far away from completing the car. What seems to happen is you make really good progress then what you think will be a simple bit turns into a nightmare. I usually end up locking the garage door and leaving it for a month or so.

Are you using the standard ECU for the engine, I am looking at getting an adaptronic one for my project ??

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I'm thanking you for all your encouragement folks. And all kinds of question and suggestions will be received with interest.

To answer the question from CobraEsprit:

The standard ECU of this engine has some unwanted features in my opinion. The worst being what GM calls displacement on demand, a programming feature combined with hardware inside the engine. The combined result is an ECU that manages to cut out half of the cylinders when cruising at light throttle. And then there is the starting prohibiter when you don't have the original key, the limp home mode when the gear box is misbehaving etc etc.

I have a Megasquirt laying around that may be possible to use, but most likely I'll have to fork out for a good quality free standing ECU and take it from there. Haven't decided on which one yet, but all the sensors on the engine are present and supposed to be in good working order, so I believe that I'll use them for monitoring everything.

Bought a booklet on wiring up these engines and plan to do that as part of the project.

And I also agree that Murphy's law has a tendency to stop things at the worst possible moment. But since my previous project is on the road now I'll try to manage taking the necessary time and iron out the snags as they show up :-)

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How are you getting along with the authorities?

Bj


Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today - James Dean

"If it isn't leaking, it's empty" - Comment from a British sportscar enthusiast after being made aware of an oil slick under his car

Lotus Car Club Norway (LCCN) - lccn.no

LCCN on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/LotusCarClubNorway/

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Haven't really started on that route yet.

In the process of preparing my garage for the build. Which means building shelves on all the walls and getting all sorts of parts, tools and equipment up from the floor. The two big compressors, engine hoist, floor jacks, sand blasting cabinet and lots of other stuff takes up all the available floor space when crammed in between the Lotus project, the Marcos and lots of other stuff.

I have come to the conclusion that this winter will be used for a lot of preparations and gathering the parts needed. And indeed starting the process of sorting the red tape out.

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Everyone I talk to say the same: If you want to have it street legal, talk to the authorities first. If you present them with the final solution they will in 99.9% of all cases say NO. Sad but true. I think you have some major "sucking up" to do towards your local "Biltilsyn" smile.gif

Good luck, and keep us posted.

Bjørn

Edited by Yeti

Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today - James Dean

"If it isn't leaking, it's empty" - Comment from a British sportscar enthusiast after being made aware of an oil slick under his car

Lotus Car Club Norway (LCCN) - lccn.no

LCCN on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/LotusCarClubNorway/

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He may be in too deep already, since he threw away the original backbone (or did I misunderstand something?). Chances are BT will consider it "oppbygd" - thus costing the same as the import duties for a brand new car.

Edited by USAndretti42
Removed quote

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hi

could not help noticing the picture when you picked up your car- who was the broad hanging out on the west end corner?

richard


Technically sound ...Theoretically poked !

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I was never going to first install everything on the old chassis, without the provision for upper rear links etc., building up the complete car for legal presentation, and then pick everything apart to build everything up again using an S3 chassis this time. If it doesn't work legally with the S3 it won't work at all. So yes - the old S2 chassis has ended up racing the "eternal freeways in the skies" in some form. It was delivered to the local metal recycling plant this summer. And now things will roll as they come.

And the West End Girl in the picture seems to be my beloved wife, who wanted very much to come with me on an excursion to England that summer, to pick up the Esprit and visit some friends in the process :rolleyes:

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