Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking a Break to See the 2013 Esprit - Paris Motor Show

When I learned that the new Lotus Esprit would be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October, I was lucky to schedule a work trip around it and get myself to Europe. In all I was incredibly impressed with everything Lotus brought, but my clear favorite was the Esprit. For some of the criticism the car has received (too heavy for a Lotus, too much overblown horsepower, it looks like other Italian super cars, etc.), I think they nailed the design. I love it, and I also love the Elan, which will be priced considerably lower than the Esprit.

It remains to see if they'll actually produce all the concepts, but it was fantastic to see Lotus with such a strong presense and glimps into their future.

I was waiting for this for a very long time. At last the new Esprit is coming.

The basic wedge shape lives on. Too bad they didn't retain the classic
"Esprit" font from the late seventies but the brand has to move on!

The new Esprit had carbon everywhere - in the trunk lid, rear panel, rockers, interior bits, and even the wheels. The basic wedge shape is still retained but utilizing Lotus' new front end styling.

The Elan is extremely sharp, and in reality isn't too far differentiated from the Esprit.

The exhibit was fantastic. They had actual crash helmets from ex Lotus works drivers like Ayrton Senna, Jochen Rindt, Nigel Mansell, Elio de Angeles, and many others. Actual track notes from Colin Chapman and ex- race engineers were on exhibit as well, and video on a theater size screen displayed footage of fallen greats like Denny Hulme and Jim Clark. Lotus definitely stepped it up in Paris.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

S1 Lotus Esprit Gearbox, Refurbished and Ready to Go!

The gearbox is one of the components I didn’t have a hand at rebuilding. I take my hat off to those who have done it before. You’re brave. It’s a complicated job.

It has been rumored that the old Citroen box is good for life in the S1 Esprit given its conservative power output. I was tempted to give the gearbox a good scrub and simply bolt it back up, but given how far I’m into this project I decided to do it right and send it out. Thankfully, the gearbox was perfectly solid with the exception of a few major oil leaks which were fixed with new gaskets and some Well Seal.

While the gearbox was out for service, I had the flywheel resurfaced and ordered a new clutch. I also ordered a new slave cylinder and zinc plated the remaining odd parts (clutch fork, clutch adjusting screw, and return spring). I also purchased all new hardware for the bell housing.

After the gearbox was returned in good health, I mounted the rebuilt brake calipers, resurfaced rotors, and mounted the lower suspension arm beam.

What the gearbox looked like after removing it from the car. Many
hours of cleaning ahead.

The new clutch, ready to go in.

The pressure plate was ok, so there was no need to buy a new one.

The resurfaced flywheel ready to bolt onto the crankshaft.

The completed gearbox assembly. Job done!

Rebuilding the S1 Lotus Esprit Clutch Master Cylinder

Don't rebuild it. Buy a new one. The clutch master cylinder on early Esprits happens to be common across a variety of cars (Land Rover 90 is the one I referenced) and is readily available for next to nothing. Instead of taking a chance with mine and having it leak later on, I ordered a new one. I discarded the external plunger arm and used the same one that I removed from my car. Otherwise, the length isn't the same and it will cause problems when it's time to mount to the pedal box.

Rebuilding the S1 Lotus Esprit Slave Cylinder

The slave cylinder from my Esprit was too far gone for a simple rebuild (re-sleeving was necessary), so I decided to do some research and try to find a new one. It turns out the slave cylinder on the S1 Lotus Esprit is virtually the same as a Nash Metropolitan and Austin A55. Many Formula Ford racing cars use the same cylinder as well. I found one cheap on eBay and I figured it was worth the money to simply buy a new one. The mounting holes (where the two bolts secure the slave cylinder to the gearbox) are too small and require some filing. It's an easy job though (5 minutes max), and then the bolts can slide through.

The fitting came as part of a SJ Sportscars kit that also included a braided stainless steel hose. It's a worthwhile upgrade to eliminate the old red hose, which swelled in the heat and caused the clutch engagement to be inconsistent.