Lotus Elan

Classics Monthly Magazine

PostPost by: andyelan » Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:49 pm

Hi Everyone

Has anyone seen the latest Classics Monthly magazine yet. Several interesting Lotus articles includind one compairing a Zetec Plus 2 with a standard car, and comming up with some quite surprising conclusions.

Regards
Andy
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:56 pm

Come on Andy....you know I'm too tight to buy one....what are the conclusions?

John :wink:
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PostPost by: jono » Thu Nov 20, 2008 3:56 pm

..the conclusion is that the guy wants to sell his Spyder for ?21k :wink:

...and the original Plus 2 is more comfortable as an everyday drive.

I'm glad I decided to stick with the twink 8)
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:08 pm

Conclusions:-
The Zetec is more of a track car, stiffer, noisier and faster. The standard car is softer and better suited to road use. They also like the patina of the older car.

The Zetec gearchange is worse than the standard car and that's a five speed! Hard to believe and not good news for someone building a Zetec like me.

Jerry and wife are not using the car, it's worth too much and they're afraid of damaging it so they use the Audi as daily transport!

How much of this is due to Jerry's specification (poly bushes, tuned engine etc) and the age of the other car (did it need a suspension refresh etc?)

As usual, the article left us with more questions than answers. For instance, Jerry (who isn't familiar with +2s) gave his impressions of both cars. It would have been great to have the views of the +2 owner - are you on the net Craig?

Mike
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:25 pm

A few comments after looking more closely at the pics..........

Jerry didn't refit the chrome strip under the doors and the roofline trim. This is a clear mistake, Chapman's bling really works. Neither car has the nosecone trim but that seems less important.

Jerry's wipers are on the wrong way round (parked to the right) and it looks very odd.

The sill fasteners are shiny (stainless?) and the car is body coloured here - black looks better.

Even the badges on the front wing seem to add to the overall effect, Jerry's car hasn't got them!

Jerry's rear bumper isn't mounted square enough, it tilts upwards at re sides and this spoils the line of the car.

And of course it rides too high, are the spring seats not adjustable enough?

It's surprising how all the variances from standard look wrong, a clear guide to how good the original is.
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:48 pm

Mike wrote:-

"The Zetec gearchange is worse than the standard car and that's a five speed! Hard to believe and not good news for someone building a Zetec like me".

"How much of this is due to Jerry's specification (poly bushes, tuned engine etc) and the age of the other car (did it need a suspension refresh etc?)"

I expect everythig will work fine including proper ride height on your Zetec +2, when the job's done properly.
It can be done :wink:

Cheers
John
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Thu Nov 20, 2008 5:12 pm

John,

many thanks for those words of encouragement. Much appreciated.

Mike
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PostPost by: peterako » Thu Nov 20, 2008 6:48 pm

I was excited, as a sometimes Classics Monthly reader, when they announded that they were going to restore a +2 Elan.

2 issues in...and I was less than interested.

He was just going to gut the car and sell the pieces off to create a Spyder +2 :(

BUT.....I'm definitely going out to get this latest issue :D

Peter....proud of my 1973 REAL Elan +2....
I is an Inginear....please excuse my speeling!
'73 +2S 130/5
Opel Zafira, Some bicycles, Wife, Kids, Cats, Dogs....chickens....cluck cluck...goldfish...ducks flew away!
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PostPost by: Craig Elliott » Thu Nov 20, 2008 6:51 pm

It was a really fun and interesting comparison - and to see the resulting discussion here! :wink:

My car is, more or less, a standard +2 S130/5. It had a body/chassis restoration in the early 80's following a front end shunt. This included a new lotus galvanised chassis etc and a re-spray by Robin Alabaster. Over the 5 years I've owned it the engine has been re-built (about 12,000 miles ago), the brakes re-built where necessary, and a few weeks before the test I more-or-less entirely re-built the suspension (spyder front top and bottom wishbones, new ball joints/trunnions, superflex bushes, new TTR adjustable shockabsorbers and springs) on the rear it has nearly new struts, new adjustable spyder wishbones (again with superflex bushes) and Mick Miller CV joint intermediate driveshafts. The suspension has all been set up to the recommended specs provided by TTR and Spyder but still follows the original Lotus approach. I haven't touched the gearbox and it does show some signs of wear but is fine (fingers crossed).

I've also done some bits and pieces of cosmetic work (a pristine air intake trim is stashed in the garage awaiting a future re-spray!) but nothing like the work carried out on Jerrys car. All in all I reckon the car is mechanically excellent, and cosmetically not bad. It gets used regularly.

The article was very fair and more or less summed up what I also thought about the differences between the two cars. Jerry's car was a lot of fun and really nice but probably a little harsh for lots of road use. The extra power was great, turning a reasonably quick car into a very quick one. Also the brakes on Jerry's weren't as good as mine on the road because he was using competition pads and when I tried it I wasn't getting them hot enough. I suspect all, or most, of this could be dialled out relatively easily using different settings/pads/bushes etc, assuming that the differences aren't down to the use of more modern suspension components, changes in unsprung weight etc.

I agree the extra height of the Zetec +2 looks a bit odd when put side by side with an original. Again you could probably fix this with different springs and/or adjustable spring platforms - although the extent to which you could do this depends on the exhaust being used (i.e. if you have an additional centre silencer as mentioned in the article). There were two things that I found a little hard to get used to - the first being the centre handbrake which felt as though it was in the way, and the second was the width of the gate on the gearbox. You'd probably get used to these - esp the gearbox, or could go back to the umbrella handbrake :shock:

In the end most of the differences are about your choices in building the car - and how much you want to spend. The cosmetic finish on Jerry's car is excellent with a fantastic body restoration/paint job and interior, and brand-new running gear. With the remaining cosmetics, again taste/choice comes into the equation and Jerry has chosen not to fit some of the trim pieces - easy enough to do if you're minded to. The key difference is the extra oomph. I strongly suspect that you'd be very hard pressed to get the same car starting from scratch on a budget of ?21k.

Oh and I still think the 5 speed gearbox isn't that bad. To my mind the main problem with it is that the spring loading on the change into 5th is too stiff and apparently this is relatively easy to fix.

And on that note... (lights blue touch paper...) :D

Craig
Last edited by Craig Elliott on Thu Nov 20, 2008 10:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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PostPost by: gerrym » Thu Nov 20, 2008 7:11 pm

Mike and John, echo many of the comments.

There sure is quite a bit of fettling and finishing between a good Elan Plus 2 restoration and a naff one. The Zetec just adds to the complications.

Case in point is the ride height. I found that the Spyder chassis front mounting lugs were too high in relationship to the body. In the end they had to be chopped off. Design for their replacement is complete awaiting better weather in Spring for the welding. The sump for the Zetec Twincam is critical. Dave Colledge at Retro-Ford fabricated a steel sump with baffles and wings in order to reduce the overall height. This makes it possible to lower the ride height without grounding out the sump. The exhaust manifold is the critical bit of kit. Lots of work needed there. Remember from previous magazine articles all the effort on chrome plating (of the manifold) Sound quality and sound suppresion don't just happen by chance.

In terms of external aesthetics, after ride height and trim*, wheels make or break the car in my opinion. This include the centre knocks-offs. With modern bolt-ons, the car loses so much of its original character. However this is not intrinsic to fitment of the Zetec engine, but just a consequence of going down the performance/modern Ford components route.

* surely only the blind would not paint matt black the sill and shiny fasteners? all part of lack of finishing and fettling

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PostPost by: Gordon Sauer » Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:05 am

As an aside, with all the indignation about the lower sill strip not being black, doesn't seem that from the factory it was black. Sure the screws in the sill need to be painted--is this just an appearance prefereance, not a originality comment? Gordon Sauer
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:05 am

Mention has been made about the ground clearance problem with the Zetec sump.
Is this the reason why Spyder raise the ride height so much.
I recognised this sump protrusion as a problem during the first trial fit of the engine into the chassis.
A decision was made to chop off the sump to achieve a depth that was less than the front cross member (vacuum tank)
This actually resulted in the sump depth being the same along its whole length.
The resulting hole was covered with 4mm aluminium.
To regain some oil volume side tanks (wings) were incorporated into this.
Additional 4mm vertical plates were welded onto the existing vertical walls and to the bottom of the sump, these provided what turned out to be effective baffles & were strong enough to provide suffient support to let the engine stand on its sump.
Purely by chance when I filled the engine with the recommended 4.5 liters of oil, the oil reached the max. marking on the original dipstick.

Another thing that had to be altered were the roll bar drop links, in order to lower the roll bar away from the rear end of the sump they need to be longer.
I achieved this by cutting the link rod off of the end which has the roll bar bush in; this was then threaded with M8.
Steel bar with an internal M8 thread was welded to the separated bush. Screwed together they provide drop link adjustment. A lock nut secures the set up.

Cheers
John
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:40 am

Gerry/John,
Do you think the issue is ride height or the height of the body in relation to the chassis (or both)?

Chassis ride height can be altered via the spring heights and affects all chassis mounted components such as the sump and exhaust. However, the relative height of the body above the chassis depends on the mounting points as described by Gerry.

The rolling radius of the tyres also affects the look of the car enormously as the space between the wheel arches and the wheels is very obvious.
Jerry's 195/14/55 tyres are 3.6% smaller in diameter than the standard 165/13/80 tyres. Is this significant?

Mike
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:34 pm

Mike,

I'm not sure why the Spyder Zetec +2s all seem to display this ride height anomaly.
The most frequently used Tyres are 185/60x14 so the 55 aspect ratio tyres on Jerry's car could highlite this problem a bit.
Nevertheless it should be possible to dial this out by lowering the spring platforms.(However see below)
The Spyder Zetec tubular chassis does differ from the standard +2 Spyder tubular chassis. The differences are, as far as I know, limited to the rear end to accomodate the Sierra differential. Also the central tunnel provides more room for the MT75 g/box & oval section tubing is used in the diagonals towards the rear of the front "Y" split.
I expect that this is now standard irrespective of Zetec or Twincam application.
I did my S4 Zetec conversion on a tubular chassis but that was before Spyder started making Zetec specific space frames.
The Spyder Zetecs also use their "Double wishbone" rear suspension & in most cases their own front uprights, all to accomodate the Sierra brakes.
At the time I bought the Spyder space frame I also bought their rear suspension set up & front adjustable spring seat dampers & springs.
Assemling the springs to the dampers was a frightening experience.
The amount of compression required & the resulting closeness of the coils gave me a "funny feelin' in me water".
When fitted to the space frame the massive difference in the rear "wishbone" lengths just didn't look right to my eyes & would, I thought, cause massive camber changes.
The result of this was reverting to the rear struts using TTR damper, 2.25" springs & adjustable platforms. A pair of matching TTR front springs were also fitted ( a darned sight less hairy to fit)
Sorry to have rambled on but these were some of the things that I had noticed, changed & could possibly have an influence on ride height.
In a previous mail I mentioned the sump height problem.
If Spyder use an unmodified Mondeo sump they may have decided that the increased ride height was/is necessary in order to provide the necessary ground clearance.
Someone also mentioned an additional central silencer. This would also be ground clearance/ride height factor.

Dear purists, I hope you've been looking in another direction during all of this Zetec splurge :wink:

To the Rivet counters I have generalised a bit in places just to prevent this mail turning into "War & Peace"
:roll: :roll:

Cheers
John
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:18 pm

John,
Thanks for the thoughts. I'll probably put another call in to Andy at Spyder to get his latest ideas.

My suspension is all fully assembled so no I've issues with spring compressors - until I start looking at adjusting the seats!

I've got some slave tyres on at the moment (185/60/14) and I'm considering eventually going to 185/65/14 to get as close to the standard rolling radius as possible for looks. This decision is some way off yet - I've a lot of work to do first. The trade off in terms of compromised handing but better ride will probably suit me! The overall gearing will be slightly higher (1.5%) but this should be within speedo tolerances.

I need to talk to Gerry about the height of the front body mount - mine looks too high as well but I assumed that was because the unsupported nose of the car had drooped a bit, again I'm sure Andy will have ideas on the subject.

Gordon,
Thanks for putting me right on the colour issue, you'll have gathered that I'm no purist - I'm aiming for a 21st century +2.
I think that a lot of cars have the bottom flange painted black and it certainly disguises the bolt heads and the rather rougher finish of the edge of the fibreglass. It also makes the car seem a little slimmer, especially in lighter colours like Craig's white car.

Mike
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