So 2015 track season begins to close out and the cars hibernation begins, unsure how other folks minds work but when the Magpie is in the garage for long periods of time and not being used much… I find myself researching and buying new shiny bits!
Just before hibernation I was given the chance to drive the Evora 400 by Lotus Silverstone. I never drove the original Evora so can’t provide a comparison. However, what was immediately noticed was the precision of the new gear change in the 400… initial thoughts as I man handled the gear stick… reminded me a little of my old GT3… this is nice!
Other than the gear change, I had no other lasting memories of the 400 I’m afraid, I didn’t feel it was very fast for circa 400bhp. The interior to be fair was nice thinking about it… anyhow what followed after the test drive was this sudden research into how I could get Magpie to shift better.
A bit of context, for me personally, and I know many feel different. I’ve found the gear shift to be somewhat woolly on the V6 from factory. For example, when downshifting from fifth to third at Quarry (Castle Combe), or up from third to fourth coming out of Coppice fast, also a bit off going from 4th to 2nd for Melbourne Hairpin (Donington). Generally speaking under high load getting it into gear could be a little difficult.
My research came to the following conclusion, the gear change from the 400 or Sport 350 is not available and remains not available as a retro fit. Alitech at the time where working on a solution for the V6, but for me the construction looks too industrial. Neither did Sector111 have a solution for the V6. On recommendation I found Simply Sports Cars had uprated shift and cross gate cables available for the V6.
On impulse, with that lovely 400 shift still in my head, I went and bought both the shift and cross gate cables from SSC. A few days later the cables arrived from Australia along with a very hefty customs charge. From memory the total cost was about £650!
The installation was a ball ache and took double the quoted install time resulting in a £280 bill. So the total cost of the gear cable upgrade came to £930, I must admit in hindsight this figure really does depress me and it was a lesson learnt on being a little more cautious on impulse purchases.
In practise the install has tightened up the gear change, as an upgrade is it worth the money and did it cure the problems I faced on track and get close to that wonderful 400 feeling – NO.
The cost outweighs the benefit. That said, I feel the problem is getting the adjustment right, you see the cables can be adjusted at both ends and the adjustment is super sensitive.
Here’s an extract from the SSC instructions which gives you an idea on how the adjustment affects the gear change – Fiddly is an understatement.
Patience is another statement, and I think herein lies the problem. To get the adjustment right requires a lot of time and patience. I don’t believe the dealer who did the install put enough time into testing, adjusting, and optimising the adjustment.
I did go back and a few small tweaks where made, but I feel more could be done. Don’t get me wrong the gear change is a tiny bit better, but I believe it could be a lot better with more time optimising. That said is it an upgrade worth near a £1000 I still believe my answer would be NO.
In 2017 im led to believe both Alitech and Sector111 (design below) will be bringing to market a V6 solution. Im hopeful the Alitech solution will be a little more discreet as I do prefer to back local engineering.
January comes around and I start to get itchy with the lack of track time during the winter break. I start preparing for the warmer and dryer times ahead… my brake pads where near dead after last season and I needed to replace my brake fluid.
I’d used Pagids before on my GTR with good results and after reading several reviews decided to try them out on Magpie. I went with Pagid RS14s.
I very soon learnt the perils of brake pad transfer. Nightmare, huge vibrations, couldn’t use the car without feeling I’d done an arm workout! Tried to persist and re-cover the discs, but nothing seemed to work.
Super frustrated, and with the track days now starting to come into season, I just wanted to get the brakes sorted. Speaking with @Win911 I learnt how Komotec had been developing and testing a big brake kit. Knowing how Winny drives I knew it would be near indestructible. So I bite the bullet called @Hangar 111 and became the first UK guinea pig to install the KoBra4-4 kit.
The kit basically increases the brake discs front and back from a standard 330mm to a 343mm diameter. The 2-part disc setup uses Performance Friction rotors and pads. There’s a tiny weight reduction of 0.5Kg per side – Nothing you could ever feel but every little helps…
Very high quality kit, no complaints, and decent instructions for install. Cost wise it isn’t cheap but compared to upgrading to the Cup 2-part brake setup it was cheaper with the added benefit of having grooved vs drilled as well as larger diameter rotors than the Cup.
Off to Williams Automobiles in Chipping Sodbury, my local authorized Lotus dealer, and back on the ramps for installation. I would have gone to Hangar 111 but due to the distance (near 8 hour round trip for me) I decided to stay local.
I never thought I could get so excited by brake discs! But the kit just looked gorgeous.
Even pornographic during the bedding in at Castle Combe.
Note, with any of the big brake kits, you need to be super careful with the placement of your wheel weights. The gap between the caliper and inner wheel is now very tight with the increased diameter of the big brake kit.
You can get slim line weights, there’s also a slight depression of the lip (about 15mm from further into the inner wheel) which gives you an extra mm or two which makes all the difference for the weight placement and caliper clearance.
In terms of the performance of the brakes – EPIC just EPIC. This is possibly the most impressive upgrade I’ve done on Magpie. The car never failed me at any point in 2016, never any brake fade, just perfect all day every day. For anyone using their V6 for track, and getting to the point of needing to replace their one piece solid drilled discs, upgrading to a two piece big brake kit is definitely worth considering.
Since purchasing this kit I know Dave at @Seriouslylotus has developed a similar kit with floating bells released a few months ago… I haven’t tested this kit and haven’t checked pricing differences so please DYOR.
As per a separate thread on TLF I’ve now got to the point of needing to replace my front discs due to excessive crazing. Another lesson learnt take more time and do more cool down laps before coming in! Replacement rotors and pads can be purchased from any PFC dealer. I’ll post the correct part codes once I’ve had confirmation.